KNITSONIK 07 – Finding The Fabric of The Place (Part 2)

Welcome back!

This is the second part of a bumper edition of the KNITSONIK podcast dedicated to “Finding The Fabric of The Place”. It shares work from the worlds of soundart and knitting which celebrate or explore our relationship to different places. As ever, find it on iTunes, play it through the player below, or download it direct from here.

I chose the word “Fabric” as a title here because it refers to textiles, the built/constructed environment, and complex structures or systems.

fab·ric (făb′rĭk)
a. A cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers.
b. The texture or quality of such cloth.
2. A complex underlying structure: destroyed the very fabric of the ancient abbey during wartime bombing; needs to protect the fabric of civilized society.
a. A method or style of construction.
b. A structural material, such as masonry or timber.
c. A physical structure; a building.

We begin with a quick recap on the work of German-born sound artist, Christina Kubisch. The audio here is a binaural recording created at the Botanical gardens in Brussels by me, while wearing Kubisch’s special headphones and exploring the electromagnetic frequencies in the environment there.

Then I talk about Holly Rumble’s project, “Hear a Pin Drop Here“. In this project a sonic survey of a place is conducted by dropping pins and listening to see whether or not they can be heard landing. Where the pins can be heard, a photo is taken to document the quiet situation. Please do go and check out Holly’s website, where you can see beautiful images of people exploring the city together with each other and their box of pins and read more about Holly Rumble’s process with this piece.


Next I talk about James Saunders’ project, “Make Sound Here“, in which everyone is welcome to document a soundmaking activity in a place, and contribute their discoveries to a shared soundmap. Inspired by Geocaching, and exploiting the new capabilities of smartphones, this project uses audioboo as a tool. Audioboo allows users to record a sound on their phone, take a photo documenting the situation, and then upload sound + image + description + geolocation to the internet. That data is then hoovered up into the “Make Sound Here” map, and made available to others. At Audiograft 2013, myself and Stavroula in our duo-identity STELIX composed and led a soundwalk themed around “Make Sound Here”. We made sound recordings of making sounds in Oxford, and discovered some beautiful sonorous railings in the process… plus several other sounds!


You can read more about the STELIX “Make Sound Here” experiment here, and I’ll reprise the route we took for a soundwalk at this year’s Audiograft Festival. Stavroula Kounadea will also once again co-present AudioHEARth, this time with another Oxford-based artist, Claudia Figueiredo. I cannot wait to see and hear what they have put together, and know it will be warm, participatory, and fun, and that some of my favourite moments during the festival will occur at AudioHEARth events.

After talking about “Make Sound Here”, I talk about the KNITSONIK workshop I’ll be leading during Maker’s Month at the Old Fire Station in April; “Finding the Fabric of the City”. I’ll publish full details of that workshop shortly, but – in essence – it’s about exploring the textures and surfaces of Oxford through a combination of knitted stitches and sound recordings.


I then revisit an old pair of socks and an old bit of radio. Originally broadcast on BBC Oxford, “Swaledale Socks” celebrates the process of gathering black walnuts from the grounds around St. Mary’s Butts in Reading, and dyeing some 100% WOOL Swaledale yarn with it. I then knitted socks in a pattern resembling the brickwork on the church, and walked back to it, wearing them, to record its bells (which you can hear).

This is KNITSONIK to the max; a longer piece about the process can be found here.


Next up: “Knitting the Map“, a totally incredible project happening in Brighton. “Knitting the Map” is about making a knitted representation of the 1792 Terrier Map of Brighton. This map shows the lines of territorial ownership in Brighton in 1792 upon which the modern city has grown. Sue Craig and comrades in Brighton have assembled wool from the local sheep and dyed this with plants from the local landscape, using materials OF Brighton to make a map ABOUT Brighton. It is a thing of joy, please read about it here.


Short reviews, then, of some of my favourite designs in Knitting Architecture by Tanis Gray. A special focus on the wondrous Fisher Building & Rococo Mitts designed by Jane Dupuis, AKA Spilly Jane Knits!

A rave review of the wonderful “Stevenson Sweater” by Kate Davies – my top pick from the truly beautiful collection of designs that is “Colours of Shetland“. I love how this design in particular celebrates the rhythms of the lighthouse lamp as well as its distinctive colours and textures. But the whole book is a very rich exploration of relationships between textiles and places, in the very special, knitterly context of SHETLAND, and for anyone interested in Finding The Fabric of The Place, it is a classic.

We then travel South and West to Pembrokeshire where the songthrush in Brenda’s Garden sings to us while I tell you a bit about Brenda Dayne’s “Welsh for Rainbow“. Some of the essays we worked on together in “A Knitter’s Manifesto” also feature in “Welsh for Rainbow”, so I play you some sounds from those times and reflect on my own memories of the same Welsh landscape that inspired Brenda’s book.

I muse on links between the places photographed and mentioned in the book and the knitting projects they’ve inspired with a special focus on Amroth Beach, Anthracite, Shepherd’s Mitts and Tintern Abbey, and feature recordings from Amroth Beach, the train between Whitland and Swansea, and Lara’s buttons which were recorded in 2008 for The Fantastical Reality Radio Show.

Thanks to everyone for listening and for your comments and feedback on the show!

Until the next episode…
Felix XXX

1 thought on “KNITSONIK 07 – Finding The Fabric of The Place (Part 2)

  1. Hi Felix

    It’s so weird meeting someone through sound … I love your podcasts, and particularly enjoy knitting (and sewing up the map) listening to you as if we were knitting together. And feeling connected to Tom too because I know he also listens to you as he knits.
    Many themes resonate – the use of stock sounds, universal goat, birds and birdsong etc.

    I haven’t seen Tom for a while so wasn’t expecting the name check -thank you. The map’s almost reached the end of phase one and is about to take a leap into the surrounding sheep downs and I think it’s time it had a sonic perspective. What you said (in Part One) about place creating the texture of the sheep recordings made me think about the sheep whose fleece we use – they graze in different locations all around Brighton. And each place must have such a different unique soundscape. Oooh.

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