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Archive for December, 2013

Just before 2013 ends I want to share with you a special commission I took on earlier this year. It must’ve been early summer when Rosemary contacted me about knitting her a little lace jacket for her wedding outfit.

unwrapping of knitted Kasha jacket commission

Rosemary unwrapping her lace jacket on the big day

Rosemary had seen my work at Prick Your Finger, and she loved my attention to detail and technical approach to knitting. She had already chosen a beautiful dress for her wedding day, but a little lace jacket would complete the outfit. She had seen the Kasha cardigan I had knitted for Susan Crawford, and this was just what she wanted. Well, almost. Instead of the short sleeves, she wanted three-quarter length ones, and as her dress already had a lace collar, she didn’t want one on Kasha.

Kasha Alteration three-quarter sleeves

A gorgeous wedding bouquet and three-quarter sleeves

I had to search around a bit for a suitable yarn, but after consulting with Susan, Rosemary and I settled on Alice sock-weight yarn from Juno Fibre Arts. This luxurious blend of alpaca, silk, and cashmere is very soft, has a nice drape and great stitch definition. The colourway is called Oyster, which is very appropriate considering I found some 1920s mother-of-pearl buttons for the jacket.

Kasha cardigan with mother of pearl buttons

1920s mother-of-pearl buttons for the perfect finish

In the above picture you can also see I used a tubular cast-on. I played around a little bit with the right needle-size for the cast-on, to make sure it wouldn’t flare or draw in too much, bearing in mind that the yarn was quite drapey, and therefore might not snap back into shape as easily as a 100% wool yarn would.

Kasha cardigan alternative collar

An alternative collar for Kasha in reverse stocking stitch

Leaving off the collar was easy, as in the original pattern the collar is knitted separately. I replaced it with a few rows of reverse stocking stitch, and left it to curl up naturally. The original pattern asks for large sleeve pads, which Rosemary felt were too big, so in the end I knitted small sausage shapes, and these can be put in with teeny-tiny snap buttons. The sleeve pads give a little bit more structure to the jacket for a more formal look, but can be taken out for less formal occasions.

shoulder pads with snap buttons

teeny-tiny snap buttons for the shoulder pads

Instead of knitting the front and back pieces separately, which would then need to be seamed together, I knitted them all in one piece. Although knitting seemed to progress slowly in the beginning, it saved me a lot of time at the end. Sometimes I think a sewn side seam can give more structure to a garment, but in this particular pattern the side seam would zig-zag anyway, so there was no structural advantage to keep them.

After teasing you with all these close-ups, I will now present to you Rosemary’s Kasha cardigan in its full glory:

Kasha Cardigan with modified sleeves and collar

 

Kasha just before wrapping up in tissue paper

Rosemary in her Kasha cardigan and her husband

Rosemary and her husband; what a handsome couple!

As an aside, Rosemary and her husband are great appreciators of art and crafts, and for their wedding day they also got a corn dolly made by Elaine Lindsay, which is absolutely stunning. A corn dolly was traditionally made for the spirit that lives in the wheat or corn fields, and which would be without a house after harvesting the last sheaf. The corn dolly would be taken home and in spring it would be plowed back into the land when the new wheat was sown. Corn dollies come in many different shapes and many villages and towns had their own design; Rosemary and Richard was based on the Mordiford heart.

Mordiford Corn Dolly

Rosemary and Richard’s Mordiford corn dolly with their initials worked in

More knitterly details on this commission can be found on my Ravelry project page.

Being a great believer in sustainable fashion and appreciating the clothes you have, I was so pleased to hear is that Rosemary has been wearing her cardigan many times since the wedding. What a great way to be reminded of a beautiful day.

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Welcome to the third stop on the blog tour about A Little Book of Craftivism! I’ve been following Sarah Corbett and her Craftivist Collective events for a couple of years now, and I was very excited to hear she was working on A Little Book of Craftivism. The book is now released (you can buy it here,) and I have been invited to take part in a blog tour (other tour stops at the bottom of this blog.)

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Sarah’s Little Book of craftivism provides a wealth of information and ideas for those people who do care about social issues, but don’t feel comfortable running around with a placard and shouting out loud, for whatever reason. In fact, Sarah called herself a burnt-out activist doing just that. She decided to do things differently, and she found other ways to get her voice heard. A Little Book of Craftivism not only shares the journey from a lone Craftivist to a whole Craftivist Collective, but it also shows you how you can join in. And that’s the great thing about it all: you cannot do all of these things on your own, so you can either join an existing project (you can see what’s going on at the Craftivist Collective website,) start your own event as part of one of these projects, or be inspired to highlight an issue that’s important to you and find out how to engage other people.

The first time I got wind of Sarah planning her book, was when she asked around on twitter how one would describe craftivism in 140 characters. I replied with: “@craftivists shows, inspires and facilitates craftsters to unite their individual creative powers to raise awareness of social issues.” As Sarah is someone who inspires me and many other people, I wanted to know who inspires her. Sarah said:

“I’m inspired by many people from political leaders such as Martin Luther King & Ghandi, filmmakers shining a light on injustices but making hopeful films to inspire us all to be the change we wish to see in the world and see that individuals can make a difference. I’m inspired reading the magazine Dumbo Feather which is in depth interviews with inspiring people around the world doing innovative, kind work & by people I meet who see a need and decide that they have the skills & passions to tackle them such as JP Flintoff who wrote ‘How to Change the World’ book for The School of Life series.” [as an aside, I can recommend Flintoff’s book, too!]

After talking to Sarah a few times, and now having read the book I realised that standing at the back and saying: “oh yes, that looks like a really good idea” just isn’t going to cut the mustard. My way of craftivism is often of a very practical nature: like helping out Fran from Skulls and Ponies to take pictures when she handed her “Don’t Blow It” Hanky to Caroline Lucas, MP.

Obviously I jumped at the chance to support Sarah with a Pop-Up Craftivist event at Brighton and Hove Museums, helping people to stitch a thoughtful message on a footprint.

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Sarah Corbett and her Pop-Up Craftivist Kit enter Brighton Museum

SarahCorbettPopUpCraftivistKit

The Pop-Up Craftivist Kit, with inspirational slogan in case the chips are momentarily down

Earlier this year I went to Lisa-Anne Auerbach’s Chicken Stricken workshop at Prick Your Finger (Chicken Strikken is a 21st century  interpretation of a 1970s Danish movement, using subversive knitwear design to highlight social issues and feminism.) There, we talked about putting personal slogans and messages on your clothes, and how in this opinionated world where everybody can and does use social media to raise their voice, many people still feel a great reluctance to wear a jumper with a statement like the ones Craftivists often embroider on hankies, masks and mini-banners. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sarah Corbett without her craftivist belt: so I wanted to know how she felt about wearing a statement as part of her outfit. Her reply:

“I think a lot before I stitch any slogan in my craftivism work to make sure it’s not attacking the reader, it’s not negative and it’s not telling people what to do (which can stop people thinking deeply about the issues). I always try and make the slogans hopeful, clearly links to social justice, positive and provocative so people are interested in thinking more about what it means to them and their role in society. The response has been really positive with people asking me what my belt means, or a badge I’m wearing or my banners hanging up & are often a great tool as a catalyst for a respectful conversation. If my slogans where telling people “the answer” then I would feel reluctant to wear then too because it seems very top down and possibly arrogant which is why I stick to provoking thought in an encouraging way.”

Since reading A Little Book of Craftivism, I think that the craftivism-mindset has managed to permeate more of my crafty pursuits.  I care a lot about sustainable fashion and a Slow Wardrobe. No need to chuck out a favourite, comfortable jumper if it has a hole: you can repair it instead, and wear your darn as a badge of honour! This has always been one of the drivers to run my darning workshops, but I now make sure to emphasise this during my classes. I also stress that I’ve learnt through making my own clothes (knitting and sometimes sewing) that it takes time, skill, and effort to make garments, and that this actually also applies to the clothes you buy in the High Street. I ask my darning class attendees to think about how it is possible that these clothes are so cheap; and to honour the invisible, but skilled person who has stitched it together for you, by making sure they last as long as possible. And another aside: I hope to make it to the next Sew It Forward event this Thursday, where Zoe Robinson from The Good Wardrobe has teamed up with John-Paul Flintoff, to share skills, and to ask you: who made your clothes?

All this to say: I can heartily recommend A Little Book of Craftivism; you can find out what others have to say about it here:

2nd December: Crafty Magazine http://www.craftymag.com/

3rd December: Helen Le Caplain http://mancunianvintage.com/

4th December: Tom Van Deijnen https://tomofholland.com/

5th December: Laura Kim http://www.otesha.org.uk/blog


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