make (a garment or other item) by interlocking loops of wool or other yarn with knitting needles or on a machine.
relating to or using sound waves.
I am Felicity Ford (AKA Felix).
Knitter, podcaster, soundartist.
I have been combining textiles with sounds in my work since 2006.
The book is a practical manual for designing your own stranded colourwork based on everyday objects and places.
However my straightforward approach to creative knitting is underpinned by a philosophy for appreciating and paying attention to daily life – a theme developed through my ongoing work with sounds.
How did I end up working in these two different fields?
In 2005 I moved to Oxford to do an MA in Sonic Art & Composition. In search of comrades, I joined The Oxford Bluestockings – a local knitting group. In the daytime at University I discovered avant garde composers and field recording projects and, in the evenings, I rediscovered the pleasures of knitting first taught to me in girlhood by my granny.
I enjoyed exploring sounds imaginatively on the MA but simultaneously grew to love many aspects of knitting. I learnt that knitting can be conceptual but that it is also embedded in everyday life; that knitted garments can be useful and expressive; and that knitting exists in an exciting tension with the history of labour and clothing, gender politics and ideas of national and regional dress. This view of knitting as a charged site of meaning connects with the social realities which I am interested in exploring through my work with sounds.
I worked on a PhD exploring the domestic soundscape and presenting everyday sounds to audiences between 2007 – 2011 and grew progressively interested in how sonic practices like field recording can enhance our experience of ordinary life. As I grew ever more interested in the provenance of my hand knitting yarn, I also became interested in what sounds can tell us about where our wool comes from.
I’ve been mixing the KNIT with the SONIK ever since.
Selected KNITSONIK commissions & projects
I am currently working on an album of everyday sounds and sonic textures related to the places and objects featured in the book: the KNITSONIK Audible Textures Resource. You can see some of my selected sounds for that project plus the places in which they were recorded, on this online soundmap created using Udo Noll’s amazing aporee platform
In 2016 I produced a commission for the Charles Dickens Museum entitled Hearing Catherine.
Sonic Weave . Exploring Silk and Viscose Through Sound for TATE Modern – sound work commissioned by TATE Modern exploring the provenance of silk and wool in sound. Created to accompany Richard Tuttle exhibit in 2014
Listening to Shetland Wool – soundmap exploring sites and sounds relating to the Shetland wool industry. Created using Udo Noll’s aporee sound mapping platform as part of the research for the lecture presentation presented at Shetland Wool Week in 2013
Hûrd – A KNITSONIK PRODUKTION – installation featuring 32 miniature speakers clad in hand-knitted British wool and collected recordings and interviews from Cumbrian shepherds and sheep farms. Commissioned by Rheged gallery and the British Wool Marketing Board in 2012
S H E E P for framework:afield – radio show exploring the sheep to shoulders journey in sound. Created for framework:radio in 2009
Selected knitting patterns
Layter – a gently-fitting garter stitch jacket with a modular construction, celebrating the colours and textures of different sheep breeds and their wool. The varying shades and textures of different native breeds’ fleeces add interest to knitting the jacket, and the appearance of seamlessness in the construction is a homage to the way that skilled shearers remove sheep fleeces all as one piece.
Listening to wool through wool – with this pattern knitters may listen to sounds from the very landscape where Shetland wool is grown through a speaker made of that same material. The KNITSONIK speaker pillow has been designed in conjunction with a special online sound map featuring freely downloadable mp3s recorded in Shetland by Felicity Ford.
For updates on the KNITSONIK mission, please sign up on the right to the quarterly KNITSONIK newsletter!