Wovember

Wovember is the brainchild of Felicity (Felix) Ford and Kate Davis, and is celebration of all things wool and a cry to arms for all of us who value the wool we use and wear in support the UK wool industry. I would urge readers to investigate Wovember and do their bit to support their local wool industry, whatever happens in the UK will be replicated across the world.

I’m lucky enough to know Felix, she’s a really passionate advocate for what she believes in. She places value upon artist- made hand crafted products,whether that’s the yarn she uses in her knitting, the patterns she knits, products and projects made by her friends or items and knowledge that she’s come across. Felix is one of those genuinely inspiring people who manages to convey thoughts and passions in such a way that she challenges what I know and causes me to gain insights and understanding that has broadened my horizons. 

For a year now I’ve lived in a rural idyll in Wiltshire, surrounded by fields, in a house called West Farm, in this time my awareness of the importance of local “produce” has grown immeasurably, as has my understanding about the responsibilities I have in order to sustain this lifestyle. I’ve been trying to reduce my footprint by using what I have on hand (not always successfully) in my craft activities, to give more thought to the origins of the food I buy and to avoid wasting less, to recycle more and try to change the resources I use for more sustainable, environmental ones.

For several months in spring and early summer my neighbours were a flock of sheep, all of which were heavily in lamb. My husband and I became very attached to these rather wild-looking beasts, and watched them eagerly each day as they gave birth to their lambs. We enjoyed the sight sounds and smells of the sheep, and became involved with the flock when some terriers set upon the lambs. Seeing the anger and passion of the shepherd about the irresponsible owner of these dogs caused me to understand and care more about my woolly neighbours. 

Wild Looking Beasts

Being a shepherd in the twenty-first century in Wiltshire isn’t always about tending an established flock in one place for a single farmer. Paul, the shepherd who tends the flocks near us, looks after a number of flocks, for a number of people across part of eastern Wiltshire. He has the requisite border collie, a shepherd’s crook and drives a traditional pickup truck, to check his far- flung stock in their fields he rides a quad bike, with his collie behind him. His sheep weren’t a specific breed, these were hill sheep which until days before they arrived in a Wiltshire field had been grazing high on some fells in the North West. They weren’t used to human contact so appeared skittish and wary of the edges of the fields, and of us. We were genuinely sad when our woolly neighbours were moved to different pastures, and the fields around us ploughed up for wheat.

West Farm Lambs

 

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On Being Creative

A few years ago I bought a copy of Twyla Tharp’s book ” The Creative Habit”, this book was an affirmation of something I already knew and understood that being creative involved habitul practise. Over the last few years I’ve had an on-going struggle to maintain personal creativity, I am being creative, I’m knitting or crocheting daily but this creativity lacks my own design input and originality. I’ve lost my habitual use of a sketchbook and textile practise. I’ve made lots promises to myself of good intentions and had lots of  false starts on projects that were meant to get me back into the creative habit.

About 2 weeks ago I was looking at Art House Co-Op when a theme, Stitches and Folds, caught my eye and suddenly I was thinking clearly about drawing and note making that might lead to the creation of some textile work. I knew straight away how to work with this theme, both as a sketchbook for the project and as the basis of new work of my own, so I signed up. I’ve been transported back several decades to when I was doing needlework as a school subject and the endless samples of seams, tuck, pleats and darts that had to be worked. Suddenly I was seeing a mixed media sketchbook and larger textile pieces celebrating this functional stitching. My  initial initial sketchbook is a very basic one I had on hand that has just kicked off my thinking and enabled me to get some simple preliminary thoughts down.

Giving thought to the materials I want to use, I’m going with simple: brown paper, dressmaking patterns, a sewing reference book, glossy fashion magazines, black and white fabrics, machine sewing cotton and stranded embroidery floss in colours to match. What I’m really not sure about is how to layout and put togther what I want into a sketchbook format suited to the book to be used for the Sketchbook project.

August Planning

Knitting plans:

Knit 3 pairs of socks- 2 will be wips, 1 is new

Finish Pimpelliese, knit the Westknit’s Mystery Shawl, keeping up with clues as published, clue 1 posted and finished yesterday

Crochet plans:

Work on Grace motifs, I’m hoping to have enough yarn for a small asymetrical shaped scarf

Sketchbook plans:

Start to create small stitch samples of tucks, pleats and darts for Sketchbook project 2012, work in my own sketchbook to the same theme (stitches and folds) in preparation for my own work

Sewing plans:

Make a few simple applique cushions to replace the ones in the living room. I’ll need to buy some furnishing fabrics and maybe a few new cushion pads.

Work on my slow cloth