Knit nIt
make (a garment or other item) by interlocking loops of wool or other yarn with knitting needles or on a machine.

Sonic son-ik
relating to or using sound waves.

Knitted swatch, based on digital sound recorder
Knitted swatch, based on digital sound recorder

I am Felicity Ford (AKA Felix).
Knitter, podcaster, soundartist.
I have been combining textiles with sounds in my work since 2006.

presenting a knitted speaker to audiences at "On Fire" at the Old Fire Station in Oxford
presenting a knitted speaker to audiences at “On Fire” at the Old Fire Station in Oxford in 2013, photo by pier corona

In 2014 I self-published the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook following this successful Kickstarter campaign.

The book is a practical manual for designing your own stranded colourwork based on everyday objects and places.

the knitsonik stranded colourwork sourcebook - a practical manual for designing stranded colourwork based on everyday inspirations
the knitsonik stranded colourwork sourcebook – a practical manual for designing stranded colourwork based on everyday inspirations

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.

recording the sounds of sheep in the auction mart in Shetland during Wool Week 2013
recording the sounds of sheep in the auction mart in Shetland during Wool Week 2013, photo by Deb Robson

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.

Speakers covered in hand knitted and crocheted covers
Speakers covered in hand knitted and crocheted covers

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 2017 I produced the Town & Country soundmap for the Museum of English Rural Life exploring the urban/rural context of Reading.

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!

Fishing in the seas around Shetland for sounds, using hydrophones hand-made by Jez Riley French and wearing a sweater hand-knitted by Alice Simpson. Photo by Lisa Anne Auerbach.

15 thoughts on “About KNITSONIK

  1. Hi Felix

    I’ve been trying to contact you to find out if you’d like to take part in Readipop’s Festival of Noise later this year (November TBC).

    Please contact me for a chat about creating a Reading Knitsonik event.



  2. It all sounds fascinating….and also I think Oxford Brookes University must be a wonderful institution. I’ve been associated with its OBERTO (Opera Research) section, which does a lot of interesting work in the field of opera and music research.

  3. Ehttp://www.theiet.org/resources/library/archives/exhibition/women/eaw-pub.cfm
    Just read what you said in Kate Davies blog about plugs and diagrams and it reminded me of the tea towel one of the women I garden for has in her kitchen. She used to work for the EAW and has the tea towel with the different types of electical wires. The whole organisation is interesting and seems strange now.
    Best wishes

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