Currently I am taking part in the MA Art and Environment at the University Falmouth.
Connecting with my own practice, my exploration of hand made, stitching, sustainable material and participation I am exploring ideas and artist, with whom I feel that there is a relevant connection.
Today was a busy day involved with college activities, in the morning I went along the induction of the 3D workshop. Hopefully Andrew will very kindly help me to learn how to make my own Nalebinding needles.
before lunch making friends with the Mac and d projection screen in preparation for my talk to the 1. Years and giving talk after lunch. I appreciate so much to be given the chance to share my enthusiasm for Wool and my thoughts about a sustainable approach in my art practise.
the afternoon flew by and as in walking the talk I need to sit down for a while over a coffee and do some Nalebinding.
For everyone who’s wondering about Nalebinding, there will be a more in-depth text about the ancient technique soon. For today, Nalebinding is a technique to create a “fabric’ with wool using a wooden needle. It’s predates knitting and archeological find go back to prehistoric times. It was used worldwide, but remained in use predominantly in Scandinavia to make socks, mittens and hats or other small household items. It is closer to sewing and uses a length of yarn at a time. This explains why it went out of use when knitting, which uses a continuous thread.
it is quite here on a Friday afternoon, people go home early.
I get lost in the process of spinning.
The rhythmic movements, repeating, spin, draw, wind unto the spindle, spin……. The fleece feels sticky, after a while there is on my finger brown grease residue. The yarn feels rough, I am pleased about a reasonable consistency in the thickness . I realise, I hardly notice the smell anymore.
Another small bucket full of fleece is washed and will dry over the week-end.
alongside I am listening to some Scandinavian or far more correct Sami music, Joiks, songs often with out words.
Spinning and listing to ancient music evokes a strong sense of appreciation in me. We are linked with our ancestors and in rediscovering these old links we can strengthening our sense of belonging to this earth.
Today is my 2. Day on my residency at Camborne College. I will keep a diary throughout my time here.
I appreciate so much to be given the chance to share my passion about wool,particular local and British with the students on the BA Conteporay Creative Pracises.
Friday, 10. Oct 2914
I am officially here now, with tag, email and internet log in!
Monday was my first day and I arrived with 6 sacks of wool!
The wool ranges from a Shetland fleece, I was given earlier this year for my birthday ( in conjunction with a lovely old spinning wheel), fleece from Bosigrian Farm on the North Coast of Penwith and carding discharge from the Natural Fibre Company in Launcton. Along side a big bag with spindles, carders and a niddy noddy ( skein winding tool, no joke! ).
Today, like Monday, I am washing the Shetland fleece, bit by bit, soaking with laundry detergent, rinsing, putting into a washing machine to spin and let it try.
In between I have picked out some fleece and I am carding it “in the grease” meaning unwashed. This is a very new experience for me, my hands love it, all the lanolin!
Today I will try to spin some of the raw wool.
The whole process give a strong in depths feeling to the material.
My thoughts wander to times when this was nessity for clothing people…….. Every piece of clothing we wear, starts with a spun thread….
The hand spun yarn, Wensleydale locks and White Shetland slows down the process even more. The ends don’t felt and I knot them, which creates a resistance in the movement, and yet I persist .
Sitting in a very busy cafe in Totnes ,deeply absorbed in my movements , thought fleeting in and out……. Last night my mind needed a quite movement and soft chanting sounds to be able to settle into relaxation before going to sleep. My mind was troubled.
I had come to Totnes to attend a evening about GMO, the most prominent speaker was Vandana Shiva among a very diverse range of talks. It end with a video address by Deepark Shopra, a passioned call to action. The fact about the damage directly on humans and animals through consumption of GMO food was shocking as was the absurdity of of manipulation of science, politics and power.
Small scale farming based on traditional and organic methods feed 70% of the world population, while the remaking 30% of industrial farming is destroying wide stretches of land which becomes dead and useless.
People like Vandana Shiva advocate for the farming communities and pressure governments to take action against giants like Monsanto .
It is so easy to forget all about it, it is easier to slip back into everyday life….. And yet, everyday we make choices, where we put our money, whom we support , how we life, what we consume , how much we or how little we consume.
It is our choice to remain either part of the problem and live as if these threads as the life we know doesn’t exist and as we have no responsibility for what we leave behind for future generations. Or if we change, reassess, what are our priorities in life and what really matters; we can choose to support local and organic food producers to strengthen local and independent economy.
We can make the choice to reevaluate our real needs in everyday life. Living a simpler life…..simpler food, simpler clothing………….
I pick up my small wooden needle and thread my hand spun wool, my daily engagement with a ancient technique and and a sustainable material becomes a daily meditation, becomes the thread I can hang onto .
Resting in my backyard, knitting my summer shawl, quit music , a coffee and the dog under the table.
sometimes it take a bit of mental discipline to actually follow and do what I know to be beneficial for me, such as quite times.
the summer appears to be a time full of activities, swimming in the bay, dog walking, taking teenager to the beach for barbecues and surfing, Summer festivals, left, right and centre, Penzance just had the LitFest ( more in a separate post about my KnitLit afternoon last Saturday.
It is good to remember those precious moments of sitting still, hands gently moving and breathing ………..
I am essay writing and as it is heartbreaking to sit in front of a computer on such a beautiful day, as it is today, I am grateful for the chance to completely be immersed in the thoughts of Sustainability and Art and where I place myself. And I got roughly an idea…….. In the meantime, it is good to walk the talk and do a few stitches, almost to rewire myself and let the other brain half have a go…..
My Backyard is my World
Six Nations and my Backyard
The idea of Six nations is a metaphor for the all non-human and human being, equal, it sees plants, insects, birds, fish, mammals and human as a nation with equal rights. An image which is strongly related to ideas from Deep Ecology.
“In the old days, the old fellows were sitting around, all the women were laughing , joking – so all that conversation has gone into the basket.”
Verna Nichols , Tasmania
This quote gathered to much up, how I feel about my practise.
When I look again at the cloth were people have embroidered on on now 4 occasions, it seems as if I can still her the voices, the stories and the laughter. And I see as well those, how were quietly stitching, not saying much, but listing and still part, adding their stitches.
My practise has these two aspects
– creating spaces where people can experience again a communal situation, of working with their hands creatively and being with people
– working on my own with very slow technique using Embroidery, Knitting, Crochet and very recently hand spinning as a meditative activity
– Working with my “traveling” projects where ever I am, on the train, in Cafés, with friends talking at the Folk evenings in my home town
Sometimes when I pick up a embroidered cloth, or a hat, knitted from my own pattern and from well chosen wool, I smile as the memories flood back.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that the underlying intend for my activities, shared and alone is Wellbeing.
I’ve started knitting again after a year-long break. I bought some beautiful hand-dyed, locally spun yarn in a brilliant mottled fuchsia, and then I got to work, knitting furiously for two days straight until I realized that my new infinity scarf was disproportionately huge. I had to undo everything and start over, my enthusiasm somewhat dampened.
When I took my knitting to a friend’s house, someone asked an interesting question: “Why would you bother knitting a scarf? It’s so much work and you can buy a great scarf for cheap anywhere.” It’s a good question. If it’s easy to buy a decent scarf for $10 at H&M, why would I spend $50 on handspun yarn and another week of knitting in order to get a finished product? It’s hardly economical.
But there’s more to it than that. The act of knitting is a strange combination of relaxation and activism, of protest and tradition. My urge to pick it up again started last month after reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. (You can read my review here.) The author pushes for a “slow clothes” movement, the fashion equivalent of “slow food,” in which consumers start paying attention to the background of their clothes and what has gone into their production. Knitting is my small contribution to the slow clothes movement for the following reasons:
I’m creating a product of high quality. Because I’ve invested money and time into this scarf, it is far more valuable than anything I could buy for $10. I will care for it and it will last for many years, keeping its shape and colour long after cheaper scarves have fallen apart. Clothing is devalued in North America to the point where it’s practically disposable. It would be far better for the Earth if we stopped buying cheap items that don’t last and invested in fewer, higher quality items that do last.
Knitting is a way to reclaim independence. We live in a world where we depend on certain individuals and companies to perform highly specialized tasks for us. There’s something satisfying about taking on some of the responsibility for clothing production and sending a message to the industry that I don’t need them to make my scarves.
Knitting can help a local industry. It wasn’t cheap to buy two skeins of that locally produced yarn, but at least I’m making a statement with my consumer dollars to a nearby farmer, endorsing his or her decision to make a living raising sheep. According to Cline, if every American redirected 1 percent of their disposable income to domestically-made products, it would create 200,000 jobs. Cheap imported clothes become a lot more expensive when you calculate the loss of domestic jobs.
Finally, it feels really good to make something by hand. There’s something very peaceful about performing a simple, repetitive act with my fingers that results in useful yet beautiful things.
Do you knit or have another ‘slow clothes’-related hobby?
Some years ago, during the annual “Woolfest” in Cockermouthnear Carlisle, I found at the stand off the Mulberry Dyer (http://www.mulberrydyer.co.uk/) a tool called ‘Lucette’.
This tool predates French Knitting and was used for braiding a wide range of everyday items.
In my research on the internet I found a very interesting range of design, some with a handle, some without like the one above.
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopaedia
A lucet is a tool used in cord making or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking and Medieval periods, when it was used to create cords that were used on clothing,or to hang items from the belt. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loop like knots, and therefore will not unravel if cut. Unlike other braiding techniques such as kumihimo, finger-loop braiding or plaiting, where the threads are of a finite length, lucetted braids can be created without pre-measuring threads and so it is a technique suited for very long cords.
Archaeological finds and a literary description of lucets strongly suggest that its use declined after the 12th century, but was revived in the 17th century. Its use waned again in the early 19th century.
A modern lucet fork, like that pictured, is normally made of wood, with two prongs at one end and a handle on the other. It may also have a hole through which the cord can be pulled. Medieval lucets, in contrast, appear to be double-pronged, straight-sided implements, often made of bone. Some were shaped from hollowed bones, left tubular, presumably so that the cord could be drawn through the centre hole.
In a seminar, where we were asked to show an example of our practice, I decided to demonstrate how to use a Lucette.
Two of my fellow students, Claire and Vicky agreed to volunteer and received a crash course in “lucetting”!!!
We used wool from the Vicarage Farm in Penryn, which I had bought some time ago at the Falmouth Farmers Market.
My two volunteers learned the trick of the trade very quickly and enjoyed the new techniques.
I was inspired by the artist Francoise Dupre, whose work incorporates French knitting and participation.
de fil en aiguille snaith nasc, 2004 French knitting, Four needle knitting, Irish knitting stitches, wide range of yarns including plastic, cotton and wool and digital prints
Installation at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
The project is based on social interaction and creative collaboration between artist and participants. The design of the installation is inspired by the Museum Formal Garden and Irish knitting.
-Floor piece: 4m x 4m x 10cm-
-Wall piece: 209 video stills, 6cm x 4.5cm-
-Mixed yarns and digital prints-
Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment: the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relatewith the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social, and political movement, Deep Ecology has shaped the environmental debate among leading activists and policymakers—from former Vice-President Al Gore to Dave Forman, cofounder of Earth First!Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century contains thirty-nine articles by the leading writers and thinkers in the filed, offering a comprehensive array of perspectives on this new approach to environmentalism, exploring:• The basic philosophy of Deep Ecology.
• Its roots in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson.
• The relationship of Deep Ecology to social ecology, ecofeminism, the Greens, and New Age futurism.
• How Deep Ecology as a way of life is exemplified by two important environmentalists: poet Gary Snyder and Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess.
• The philosophical dimensions of this environmental movement by its leading theorist.
• The politics of ecological sustainability and the social and political implications of Deep Ecology for the next century.
Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political Action
Examining the development of ecofeminism from the 1980s antimilitarist movement to an internationalist ecofeminism in the 1990s, Sturgeon explores the ecofeminist notions of gender, race, and nature. She moves from detailed historical investigations of important manifestations of US ecofeminism to a broad analysis of international environmental politics.
Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political Action
Here feminist philosophers and ecofeminist scholars pursue the connections between feminism and environmentalism. Topics include the ecofeminist ethic; the role of patriarchal concepts in perpetuating the domination of women and nature; the grassroots origins and character of a thoughtful ecofeminism; the “ecofeminism-deep ecology debate” in environmental philosophy; deep ecological treatment of animal rights and the omission of ecofeminist analyses of the domination of animals, abortion, and nuclear deterrence; and ways ecofeminism and the science of ecology are or could be engaged in complementary, supportive projects.
The contributors are Carol J. Adams, Carol H. Cantrell, Jim Cheney, Chris Cuomo, Deane Curtin, Victoria Davion, Roger J. H. King, Stephanie Lahar, Patricia Jagentowicz Mills, Patrick D. Murphy, Val Plumwood, Catherine Roach, Robert Sessions, Deborah Slicer, and Karen J. Warren.
Women healing earth:
Third World women on ecology, feminism, and religion
Drawing on the insights of ecology, feminism, and socialism, ecofeminism’s basic premise is that the ideology that authorizes oppression based on race, class, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, and species is the same ideology that sanctions the oppression of nature. In this collection of essays, feminist scholars and activists discuss the relationships among human begins, the natural environment, and nonhuman animals. They reject the nature/culture dualism of patriarchal thought and locate animals and humans within nature. The goal of these twelve articles is to contribute to the evolving dialogue among feminists, ecofeminists, animal liberationists, deep ecologists, and social ecologists in an effort to create a sustainable lifestyle for all inhabitants of the earth. Among the issues addressed are the conflicts between Green politics and ecofeminism, various applications of ecofeminist theory, the relationship of animal liberation to ecofeminism, harmful implications of the romanticized woman-nature associationin Western culture, and cultural limitations of ecofeminism.
Indiana University Press, 22 May 1997 – Nature – 472 pages
“… provides readers with a much-needed cross-cultural and multidisciplinary perspective on ecofeminist activism and scholarship.” — Iris
“… a very important contribution to the literature on ecological feminism.” — Ethics
“I think the unique collection of so many different perspectives will help to push readers out of their disciplinary views and work to bring theory and practice together in meaningful ways…. an excellent resource for scholars and teachers…” — Teaching Philosophy
Here the potential strengths and weaknesses of the growing ecofeminist movement are critically assessed by scholars in a variety of academic disciplines and vocations, including anthropology, biology, chemical engineering, education, political science, recreation and leisure studies, sociology, and political organizing.
This is a book about simplicity – not destitution, parsimoniousness or self-denial, but the restoration of wealth in the midst of an afflence in which we are starving the spirit. It is a book about the advantages of living a less cluttered, less stressful life than that which has become the norm in the overcrowded and manic-paced consuming nations. It is a book about having less and enjoying more, enjoying time to do the work you love, enjoying time to spend with your family, enjoying time to pursue creative projects, enjoying time for good eating, enjoying time just to be.