Perth Festival of Yarn 7 & 8th September 2019

 

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There’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement but finally the tickets for this year’s Perth Festival of Yarn are now on sale. I’ve known a lot about the classes, events and vendors on offer for some time but now all the secrets are finally out of the bag so you’d better be quick if you don’t want to miss out. 

I’ve never been to PFY before but I’m making up for that by taking on two very important roles. First and perhaps most nerve wrackingly I’ll be there as Keynote Speaker to talk about BIPOC representation in the knitting community; why it’s important and how the community needs to change to make it more truly diverse. The website describes this as a lecture but I hate the idea of ‘lecturing’ people although having been married to me for years my husband Sam would no doubt disagree. 

‘BIPOC and the need for representation in the Knitting Community’ at 1:15pm on 7 September at the Dewars Centre. For more details click here

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I’ll also going be teaching a class where you can learn the technique of ‘dipped stitches’. This is a really interesting and unusual technique that explores working through the knitting to create dense, squishy fabric textures with exciting surface effects. As a designer I’m excited by any technique that makes me question how it might done so I’m really looking forward to teaching this class. In it you’ll learn the basics, learn how to read dipped stitch charts and start to create your own dipped stitches. 

You’ll nee to bring along a few basic materials such as 4.00 mm needles, a could of balls of DK weight yarn and small amounts of DK / fingering weight in contrasting colours as well as scissors, notebook and pen.

Dive Into Dipped Stitches  2:30pm – 5:30pm on 8 September in the Methven Room, The Station Hotel, 1 Leonard Street, PH2 8HE. For more details click here

I’m not going to list everything else that’s happening as you really should visit the website for all the details but I will just add that as well as me the other tutors are Francoise Danoy, Steve Malcolm, Beverley Dott, Karina Westermann, André de Castro, Julie Dubreux  and Lyndsey Roberts. There’s also a Gin Flight Night (I think tickets may have sold out for that, oops) plus a fantastic marketplace full of incredible vendors including the amazing Lady Dye Yarns from Boston, MA USA who I worked with earlier this year for one of their Craft Club Collaborations.

One of the major issues in the continuing conversations about lack of BIPOC representation, diversity and racism in the knitting community was the call for organisers of fibre festivals to step up and be much more intentionally inclusive when planning their events. Well having contacted me back in October last year Festival Director Eva Christie was already ahead of the curve when the discussion set social media alight at the beginning of January this year. Having had the pleasure of getting to know Eva over the last 5 months I know how carefully she’s curated this event and the lineup of tutors and vendors shows how diversity can be thoughtfully realised when it’s always at the heart of what you do and not simply a just knee jerk reaction. 

Roll on September!

J x

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Diversity and inclusion at EYF 2019

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This time next week I’ll be travelling up to Scotland for my first Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Initially I hadn’t planned on visiting the show but a couple of opportunities arose which made it a good excuse to combine these meetings with seeing some of our non knitting friends. (As for who I’m meeting, can’t say, sorry!) Plus going to EYF meant I could basically drool my way around the Corn Exchange at a fibre event which started after Sam and I relocated to the south coast. What I hadn’t envisaged was being asked to be part of a panel discussion on  Diversity and Inclusion taking place on Sunday the final day.

Those of you already aware of the current conversations about racism and the lack of diversity in the knitting community will know that this was arranged to replace the scheduled speaker, Kate Davies who unfortunately had to withdraw due to ill health. I’m sorry that she won’t be speaking and I genuinely wish her well.

The discussion about racism in knitting is both difficult and uncomfortable. It takes many of us out of our comfort zones and forces us to look within and examine how we humans behave towards each other. Or at least that’s what it should be doing. If we as BIPOC (Black & Indigenous People Of Colour) / POC are to see ourselves represented in the fibre community we need to be able to have open, honest and respectful conversations about the racism within it. Ones where BIPOC  / POC can share their experiences and non BIPOC / POC listen, learn and work with us to move forward.

When I posted on Instagram that I was taking part in this panel I saw a comment that referred to ‘waves of aggression’. Perhaps it’s due to my age but I really don’t do aggression, I like to be measured in my responses and thoughtful with my words. So when I take part in this discussion on Sunday along with Cecilia Nelson @creativceci, Aimee Gille of @labienaimee and Sophia Cai @sophiatron I’m hoping to hear voices from knitters of all colour; black, brown, white and every other combination. EYF are making this a ticketed event with priority going to BIPOC / POC but it can’t be a ‘one sided’ conversation if we want to make the fibre community one that reflects and respects us all.

If you’re coming on Sunday, already have tickets for the Make:Wool event and are interested in attending you can find out more information on the talk here 

As I mentioned doing this really takes me out of my comfort zone but I feel this topic is far too important for me not to be part of this discussion. I’m looking forward to meeting up with people I’ve only previously spoken with on Instagram so if you see me and want to say hi, then do!

J x

Jonah’s Hands

Screenshot 2018-11-17 at 10.25.29One of the many beautiful things to have come out of my continued search for names to  to add to the POC Designers & Crafters list is that I’m always discovering something or someone new. In particular what I love about Instagram is that I don’t always have to actively search for a name, sometimes a comment or a tag on a post in my feed is all I need before I’m off looking at new work, podcasts, video channels or blogs. 

 

This is how I came across the work of Jonah whose account @jonahhands is on Instagram. He began teaching himself to crochet around aged 5 and now aged 10 he’s started creating his own designs but not content with just churning out granny square after granny square Jonah likes to mix it up when it comes to yarn weights and size of hook. From simple pot stands and mega chunky baskets to colourful afghans so big you can barely see his beautiful face behind them to say this young man is prolific would be something of an understatement. Oh and you should see the speed at which his hands work – he crochets like lightning. I asked Jonah to tell me how he got started and I thought it would be nice to use his own words to tell his story.

“When I was 5 years old my Aunt gave me and my siblings a bag of unwanted craft items from her basement.  In it was a crochet hook and knitting needles. I asked mom what to do with them and she told me you made pretty things out of yarn with them.  She doesn’t know how to knit or crochet so she told me to go online and find a video. And I did. I started with knitting and made a long tail winter hat. Then I used a crochet hook to make mom a winter ear warmer. Crocheting was easier for me. It was hard to hold the knitting needles when I was five. I will try again some day.  

I liked the feeling it gave me when I crocheted. I felt calm. My mind is very busy and it made me focus.  I made many items and then mom put them in the county fair. I won 4 ribbons (and I was against the grandmas- not the kids). So, I kept on watching videos and making things for people. Everyone loved my gifts. When I was in grade school I wasn’t very well behaved because I was bored. I am very advanced in math … I’m 10 now and take high school classes. When I was misbehaved last year in 5th grade my teacher let me crochet when I was done with my work.  I didn’t get any more behaviour slips at school! I even taught other kids.

People think I will get teased or bullied but I don’t. Because I crochet fast and they think it’s cool. My big brother even likes my crocheting. My grandma crochets but lives far away. When I do see her I go to the bottom drawer of her dresser and take out all the doilies she’s made. So nice. She shares patterns with me and give me new hooks”.

You can tell from the beaming look on his face that Jonah lives to crochet often making things for his Mum (who must be hugely proud of her son) or making items to sell using the money he makes to either donate, invest, save for college – remember he’s 10 years old –  …or buy more yarn. I really admire that as a young black boy he’s confident enough in his creativity to share his skills with other kids at his school and has a generous heart that makes him want to gift what he produces to other people. Interestingly the fact that crochet also helps him to feel calm, and to still his ‘over busy’ mind makes me think that Jonah is probably pretty advanced for his age. I’m so glad to have found him and absolutely love what he’s doing particularly when he posts using the hashtags #guyswhocrochet, #adoptionrocks #kidscrochet #menstitchtoo  and #jonahlovestocrochet  in fact I think he’s a genius….. we should keep an eye on him. 

You can keep up to date with what young Jonah is up to by following his Instagram account @jonahshands here

J x

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No 1 Skeete Road, Knitting issue 188

No1SkeeteRdGMCNo 1 Skeete Road is a lace design worked on a 4.50 mm needle and for those of you who love a stashbuster project – and let’s face it who doesn’t – it takes just one hank of 4ply / fingering weight yarn. This design came about through me falling in love with a yarn back when I wrote the Yarn Reviews for Knitting Magazine. As someone who’s a bit of a sucker for an alpaca yarn I knew from the moment I unwound the hank of John Arbon’s Alpaca Delight that knitting a sample swatch wasn’t going to be enough, somehow I had to keep hold of the rest of the yarn. Promising to create a design that would take just one hank meant that not only could I hold onto it for just a bit longer but I could also scratch my creative itch too. 

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This triangular shaped shawl / scarf is worked from the top down with a rectangular panel of lace forming a central spine. In it a 28 row repeating pattern produces pentagon shaped lacy motifs whilst the wings of the piece are worked in a simple 2 row stitch that produces contrasting columns of lace on either side. Pointed edges give this design a fun feminine finish and as you can see when blocking it’s worth taking a bit of time to accentuate each of these points with pins.

This design gets it’s name from a road in the St Michael parish on the island of Barbados (where my parents were born) which lies in the south western part of the island near the capital Bridgetown. The original Skeete Rd is split into two parts – Nos 1 & 2 – and whilst developing the central lace pattern I thought it would be interesting to explore this same central lace motif in three (rather than just two) different shaped projects and thus design, No 1, is the first of this collection. I’ll be developing the others over the next few months and releasing all three together when the rights for this design revert back to me in 6 months time. 

IMG_5952It’s always interesting to see how my designs are styled in magazines and Christine Boggis Knitting’s editor has gone for a classic feminine look in the current issue whilst I’m more likely to wear it wrapped back to front around my neck as a scarf. And as Alpaca Delight is a deliciously soft blend of 70% Superfine Alpaca / 30% Organically farmed Falklands Merino it’s guaranteed to keep me warm without that irritating tickle. In terms of colour the 7 pastel shades available in Alpaca Delight are all very delicate so if for example Raspberry which I’ve used here isn’t your style, why not search through your stash and dig out 100g of fingering weight yarn in a much bolder colour? I’d love to see the results.

You’ll find the pattern for No 1 Skeete Road in the current issue (no 188) of Knitting Magazine

For the print edition click here 

For the digital edition click here

To subscribe to Knitting click here

To see the full range John Arbon Alpaca Delight colours click here 

 Enjoy

J x

POC designers & crafters

This post sort of follows on from my previous post ‘Black people do knit & the diversknitty conversation’. As I’d hoped there’s been a lot of very positive responses to the article and it’s got a lot of people not only talking but connecting with black designers, crafters, dyers & makers from across the knitting & crochet community. It’s also put the odd person’s nose out of joint with comments that the article itself is racist  –  well let’s just say they clearly haven’t read it.

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As part of the conversation we had over on Instagram I asked how many black knitwear designers people could name and it transpired that it wasn’t as many as we’d hoped. Well in an effort to address that imbalance I invited people to comment on my post with the names of any black designers they knew and where in the world they were located. What I actually wanted to know was the names of designers who, like me work in the craft industry designing patterns for others to knit for themselves. But because my original post was vague (as no doubt, was my brain that day) what I got was a wonderful list that included a variety of creative folk ranging from hand knitwear designers & fashion designers producing high end ready to wear garments to machine knitters, crochet designer/makers and indie yarn dyers. I did promise at the time that I’d compile all this info into a list to be made available to all who are interested and to be honest it’s taken me this long because I wanted to make it easy for anyone browsing through it to link directly to their work and Instagram profiles. I’ve called the list POC designers & crafters and although originally it came about on the back of the black people do knit hashtag what the discussion did throw up was that other non white ethnicities also knit. Well after all why wouldn’t they? Just in the last week there’s been chat about how Asian knitters are also under represented so knitters like Soraya Hussein (@mahliqawire), Hansa Sinha (@hansa.sinha), Sukrita Mahon (@su.krita) and Ankita Anupurva (@yarn.and.needles) are urging other Asian knitters and those from the Asian diaspora who knit to join in the conversation with hashtags like #asiansdoknit #asianknittersofinstagram #knittersofindia and #wedotoo. Looks like this is the beginning of a growing list of talent. How fantastic!

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Click here to see the POC designers & crafters list

The names are in alphabetical order by region with links to Instagram profiles, websites, Etsy shops etc. Please forgive me if I’ve spelt any names incorrectly and let me know any of the links go astray or just don’t work. Oh and I’m sorry to add this as a link here rather than as a new blog page but despite trying numerous times it just wasn’t showing up in the menu and to be honest my head just isn’t up to it today.

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Third Vault Yarns
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Lady Dye Yarns

Enjoy the list and if you’re wondering where all the crochet designers are, there’s more to come…….

J x