Since signing to Granta in May I’ve had a whirlwhind six weeks of furiously churning out funding applications, plotting possible research trips and renovating the new house. Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat, but I’m happy to say that I’m now back on the horse. Here’s some updates from the last few weeks
I am hugely happy to say that Creative Scotland have awarded me a small grant to help meet the cost of researching and writing This Golden Fleece. Their generosity means that I will be able to visit some of the more distant-from-me places on my knitting itinerary, including Fair Isle and Shetland, and Cornwall and the Channel Islands. I’m now busy planning and booking over some exciting forays for the coming months – watch this space….
May’s challenge was to knit a bikini to an 1940s pattern and swim in it. Following a North Sea water test at Craster in Northumberland, I can confirm that knitted bikinis are not as bad an idea as they sound! Also props to The Border Mill for manufacturing yarn that is non-itchy on the nether regions and anti-sag to boot. Knitters, you can get it here: http://www.thebordermill.co.uk/product-category/alpaca-tweed-silk/
As well as testing bikinis, I’ve been down to Yorkshire on the trail of the UK’s industrial knitwear history. Thanks to Richard and Peter, the father-and-son team behind West Yorkshire Spinners, for spending a morning sharing your story with me; and to Mick and all the wonderful designers and pattern-makers at Sirdar who patiently answered all my many questions. Thanks too to Lynn, Cynthia and Irene from Spinners of Aire who shared their spinning tips with me over sandwiches at Armley Mills!
My role as Writer in Residence with the School of Geography and Sustainable Development has now developed into Knitter in Residence. Last month I worked with Dr Rehema White to bring craftivism and academic study together at a UN conference on learning for sustainability in Edinburgh. I lead a group of participants as we knitted squares using leftover wool remnants during a workshop on values and talks on sustainability action. One participant even crocheted a square using a pen! Squares were sewed together to create a matrix symbolising the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This piece of crafted work was hung in a tree to raise awareness of the work of the conference and to signify the needs to work in partnership and to acknowledge different actors and skills in our pursuit of sustainable development.
The crafted piece will be taken to the European UN RCE conference in September, representing the inputs and aspirations of UK participants. It’s only a small thing, but I’m glad my knitting and my voice are out there in world, being counted and considered.