KNITSONIK & Eclectic Gift: A Collaboration

Hello, today I want to introduce a collaborative project between myself and Nichola McGuire – the artist behind Eclectic Gift. Nichola has designed a new range of KNITSONIK greeting cards which will launch in my shop tomorrow. We’ll celebrate their arrival there with a Q&A with Nichola but today I thought I’d show you a sneak peek at the artwork and give you a bit of background.

For the last few years I’ve been buying cards from Nichola’s Etsy shop, drawn to her uplifting and inclusive aesthetic.

Four women of different ethnicities, each doing a powerful yoga pose and wearing brightly-coloured outfits

Nichola’s work uses bright colours; takes a playful, bold approach; and unapologetically centres and celebrates black and brown girlhood.

A row of black and brown women, wearing matching outfits of black leotards and berets and standing in formation, in homage to the dancers in Beyoncé's music video of the same name

I think her images are beautiful.

Three full-bodied women linking arms in a beautiful embrace, each with different skin tones and wearing cropped black t-shirts, matching briefs and high heeled shoes. We see them from the back

After placing several orders of cards from Nichola, I searched for her instagram account and learnt that she shares my wish to demystify, de-stigmatise and remove shame around representations and discussions of mental health.

I started wondering whether we might be able to collaborate across the shared ground of our different practices, and wrote to ask if Nichola might be interested in working together. I sent her copies of my books so she could see if anything in them spoke to her. We met to agree a brief for a set of greeting cards, each of which was to frame KNITSONIK practices of knitting and listening as mental self-care; self-expression; and uplift. After some months of correspondence, drawing, writing and planning, Nichola came back to me with a beautiful set of images.

There are five greeting cards in all and they range from a beautiful image of a girl enjoying – as I have enjoyed, for many years – the enhanced auditory qualities of hearing the world through the microphones of an EDIROL R-09 digital sound recording device

A black girl holds an EDIROL R09 and takes enormous pleasure from hearing everyday sounds around her amplified, as if listening through a microscope

…to a woman dancing, like my friend Madeleine, to the glorious textures of Missy Elliott’s music (while wearing her Missy Elliott Sweater)…

A full-figured black woman wears a sweater with motifs on it which celebrates Missy Elliott with lyrics and drawn motifs from her albums. The dancer is in a pink environment surrounded by musical notes and the words SUPA DUPA FLY in the background in colours that match the sweater she wears

…to a knitter who draws comfort from the patterned brickwork of her town and knits them into an uplifting cowl

A black woman with an upright posture, a natural afro-hairstyle and a nice knitting bag filled with brick-coloured yarns strides along a street lined with highly-patterned brick walls and a sleeping black and white cat, who is curled up on a window sill

…to another knitter who, like all the knitters who joined in with the POLKAMANIA! KAL at the start of this year, delights in the pleasures of dotty design…

A black woman sits in a lovely curvy egg-shaped chair, knitting a dotty cowl. The pyjamas she wears are dotty; the walls are dotty; the rug under her feet is dotty; the curtains are dotty... everything is dotty and all the dots are inspiring her happy-making knitting. She smiles as she knits her dots.

…to a disabled knitter who, like a good friend of mine, uses a wheelchair as a mobility aid and is a wonderful knitter.

A disabled knitter sits in a stylish, self-propelled wheelchair, knitting a complex stranded colourwork blanket based on dandelions. As she knits, Dandelions from the ground around her feet are caught in the wind and fly up all around her

These cards feature the kinds of images I want to share and I hope you’ll want to share them, too: women confidently enjoying sound-recording technology; the ecstatic brilliance of Missy Elliott; brickwork, weeds and other commonplace items as everyday sources of inspiration; the endless permutations and possibilities of polka dots; and the normalisation of images of people with disabilities. When I look at them, I feel they reflect the joy that creative practices of drawing and knitting can induce. I wanted them to be applicable year round; to be blank inside for your own messages; and to reflect the direct, emotional language at the heart of Nichola’s illustrative style.

I really love the end result. Thank you so much Nichola for agreeing to collaborate with me; for bringing your gaze, vision, perspective and skill to this work; and for representing KNITSONIK designs with so much warmth and sensitivity. You rock!

The A6 size cards will go on sale in the KNITSONIK online shop tomorrow in sets of five at £8.99 per set. They are printed on high quality 350gsm postcard board and are supplied with colour co-ordinated envelopes made from 100% recycled paper. To celebrate their appearance in the online shop, I’ll share a Q&A with Nichola so you can hear more about her amazing work. We’ve spent a little while writing back and forth and it’s been lovely. I’m so excited to share our conversation with you all.

Until then,
Yours in greeting cards, greetings, and gratitude –

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