stitchin fingers, cyborg knitting, and the threads of story

A couple of things have caught my eye recently …

First is the new social network, Stitchin Fingers, started a few days ago by Sharon B of In a Minute Ago, and already looking like a great place for anyone who practises textiles to explore and enjoy. 

Next is Spyn. Alan brought a short flyer back from CHI 2008 about “a system for knitters to record, recall and share information surrounding the processes of handcraft”. It’s a prototype design using digital techniques to literally craft personal stories into the knitting.

That set me thinking about metaphors we use in English that link story and fibre – we talk about losing or picking up the thread of a narrative; of spinning a yarn; of unravelling the truth. Maybe others…

I was also reminded this week, by this post on Blue Beyond by Tiree artist Colin Woodcock, of a Hans Andersen story I loved as a child. The princess spins a yarn of nettles to knit shirts that will free her brothers of the evil enchantment that has turned them into swans. Her hands are burnt and blistered and she is forbidden to speak, but the pain and love she may not articulate is embodied in the healing garments she creates.

And something else comes to mind – I’m always a little overwhelmed by the fact that text and textile are actually, etymologically, related:

“The word text is a cognate [of textile], coming from Latin textus ‘that which is woven’, referring originally to a particular style of Medieval script which was so dense that it looked like weaving.” 
Quoted from Take Our Word for It Issue 33

I’m suddenly feeling very excited about the possibilities here.

knitting, with woven yarn

in the bleak midwinter

It’s chilly here at the moment – hoar frost everywhere that’s lasting right through the day. Tansy and I went out to post a few straggling Christmas cards that may not make it for Christmas and to enjoy the wintry beauty and the crunch of frozen leaves underfoot. The moon is almost full and the trees make delicate traceries against the late afternoon sky.

frosty grasses

winter moon

I’ve only just started to put up decorations and still have shopping to do – and I need to pack away my art stuff so my daughter can have her bedroom back when she arrives on Sunday. And get organised with some portable creativity so I can make the most of the holiday. I don’t think I’ll be doing any coursework while the house is full – but I’ve been reading Ruth Lee’s book Contemporary Knitting for Textile Artists, and feeling inspired to play. Speaking of Ruth Lee, I forgot at the time to post a link to my review of her exhibition ‘Reading Between the Lines’ that came out in December’s Workshop on the Web.

In lieu of a virtual card for you, this is our homemade nativity scene – created by my daughters from self hardening clay when they were children – I always feel as if Christmas has really begun when these exuberant little figures come out of their box. I wish you all a peaceful, joyful and creative Christmas.



Just a round up of some things that have inspired me as I caught up with some of my favourite blogs today…

And two new blogs: Inspiration Boards, thanks to Claire at Little Fish Creations, and kris’s color stripes, thanks to my friend Helen.

visiting Scotland

I only live about 60 miles from the Scottish border but I don’t often cross it. Last week, however, I went twice! Tuesday was a visit to the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries to review Ruth Lee‘s exhibition, Reading Between the Lines, for the next issue of Workshop on the Web. It’s an excellent show of Ruth’s work and well worth seeing, if you are anywhere nearby before 3 November. There was also a preview copy of Ruth’s new book Contemporary Knitting for Textile Artists, which has gone on my wish list! I’ll post a link to the exhibition review when it’s published in December.

Then on Saturday I caught the train up to Edinburgh to visit my friend Lee and her husband Andy. Lee is a fibre artist who creates wonderfully vivid images in felt, like this "Sheep Number 12".

sheep by Lee Fitton

Lee took me on an eclectic tour of the city. First to the Elephant House – not the zoo, but the coffee house where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. I have a passion for elephants so I was overwhelmed by the sight of so many in one place – models, photos, books, hangings, furniture… this one was given to the Elephant House by “Linda Greer, on behalf of her brothers and sisters, in memory of her father Jimmy Ferguson”.


After delicious coffee and cake we took a circuitous route through the city, via the delightful Dean Village and along the Water of Leith to the Museum of Modern Art. In front of the museum is the stunning ‘Landform‘ by Charles Jencks – a landscape of banks and curved pools that you can walk on and around.

(The tall slender shadow is Lee and the small round one is me.)
landform steps

We ended up sitting in Lee and Andy’s pretty garden, drinking more coffee and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. A beautiful day in a beautiful city.


Draw Something Every Day


The Draw Something Every Day challenge. This started off with me thinking about pastel colours for an assignment. I saw a big heap of candy coated chocolate eggs on a market stall and started doodling shapes and arrangements for a potential design.

The assignment was to do colour mixing with pastel colours using a pointillist stitch technique in a design derived from an image. I tried to do some painting and drawing in pastel colours using shells and stones and flowers, but there was nothing I wanted to take further. I found it came more naturally to work the colours directly in the stitching in a more abstract way. It is inspired by the candy eggs and the doodles but has taken on a life of its own.

pastel French knots