When Mollie Makes came for tea...explained.

Our friend Carol McNicoll invited Mollie Makes to tea. Carol's friend Polly Eltes is a photographer, and Carol brought over Polly and their friend Jeanette, to tidy up Prick Your Finger and make it look glossy, and ask about how it works. Amazingly they liked the mess, and I didn't have to actually clean. 

Here I am pouring tea from Mrs.G - For those of you who didn't take a class at PYF and have tea,  Mrs G. is a 75% acrylic tea pot cosy lady, who once lost her head and arms in a tragic kitchen incident. Being an ethical yarn shop I re-knitted her arms and head in a mixture of pure wools, but then I forgot that as a consequence, her machine wash temperature had changed. So Mrs. G post makeover has a rather startled look.

Here she is...  Mrs. G poured 10- 20 cups of tea on average per day - more when there was a party or workshop. 

MRS. G'S Eyes didn't shrink as much as the rest of her face and hair.

MRS. G'S Eyes didn't shrink as much as the rest of her face and hair.

It was lucky that Lisa Anne Auerbach was showing her Chicken Stricken jumpers in the shop when Mollie Makes came for tea. Her protest knitting exaggerated everything that the shop was about. As Lisa left to go back to LA, I remember she said I needed to make more of an issue about the shop being a protest. It was a very freeing statement, because it actually meant that I could close the shop and do something else instead...I'll talk more about that later. 

The funny thing with a shop, is that as you are working the till,  customers often ask you if you live upstairs. There are probably hidden clues, like I am wearing pyjamas or eating cereal or something. I did live upstairs. I lived on the roof in a house I built out of scrap wood, found on the streets of east London. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, it enabled me to rent out my bedroom for some extra dough when times were tough. Secondly there was a space on the roof where the sky was open, and I was lacking the outdoors. Thirdly, I just starting building it without realising what I was doing. It started by camping on the roof in summer thinking I was sleeping in a roof garden, and then gradually it turned into a house where I lived for 6 years, all year round, in my kind of luxury. I was lucky to have such understanding neighbours. The whole thing cost me under 200 quid. More about that later too...

 

What they never show you in these casual visits from Magazines, is the chaos behind the scenes. This is the back room which had to hold the weight of all the projects, workshop tools, stock, dye pans, knitting machine parts, accounts, and general stuff which was important but had no where to go. It was impossible to organise, and took 3 years to clear. Carol and Polly were so inspirational they almost had a go at styling it, but we ran out of time.

One day I'd like to make a photographic collection of creative back rooms, lofts and garages called 'Guess Who's Mess' 

I think I shall stop with that pull quote

'I have to stop myself from dabbling in too much at once.'  

 Running a yarn shop gives you an enormous window on the world. It is the most fantastic education in human beings, creativity, process and materials. Inspiration would strike many times a day and I was never bored, just over dabbled.   

 

Excerpt from my book 'Mindfulness in Knitting' to go with the confused weather today.

'In the simplicity of the great white light all colour lives.' 

Winifred Nicholson (1893–1981), pioneering painter of abstract colour

Light through prism on banana yarn.

Light through prism on banana yarn.

Colours cannot be classed as good or bad, only as ‘true’. Nature teaches us that the colour spectrum works in perfect harmony, and through playing with the placement of colours we find their affinity with each other. Mindfully noticing this reminds us how our own energies and emotions balance. 

Rainbows sit soundless, triumphantly displaying the colours that reside in the rest of nature. There may even be more colours that we cannot yet see. As light moves around, the colours around us darken, lighten, and play wonderful games. The rainbow’s translucent colours may fade, but for that short time they beguile us into finding a more permanent luminosity elsewhere. The rainbow hints at colours that are hidden in flora and fauna, waiting to be extracted as natural pigments. The rainbow is always beautiful, and there is no colour within it that does not bring us at some time a deep sense of wonder or contentment. 

Colour depends not only on the quality of light under which we see it, but also on the ability of our eyes to truthfully receive the colour. When we are unconscious in the present, or feeling low, we might not perceive the power of colour. Even on the brightest days we might see only the separation of colour, and its degrees of light and shade, but not the full experience it offers our eyes. When we are alert and feeling perceptive, the differentiation of colours deepens and exciting things start to happen. Colours dance, changing each other by their juxtapositions. Some colours radiate, while others withdraw into themselves.

Back at the wool stash, we can investigate the abstract quality of our emotions by carefully arranging yarns, letting them form relationships that hint at our mood. We do not need to clarify that mood intellectually, as the colour spectrum is not an intellectual scale. Find colour stories that satisfy different moods, take you out of your safety zone and evoke a sense of freedom. 

 

 

Psychologies Magazine Review

Here is a review of my new book 'Mindfulness in Knitting' In Psychologies Magazine.  You can win a free copy of it if you act fast! Win it and that could be one Christmas Present for a knitting aunty crossed off the list. Follow this link....

https://www.psychologies.co.uk/win-copy-mindfulness-knitting

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Dry Stone Walling with Alan Titchmarsh

Here is a picture from the green room at the Alan Titchmarsh show.

When you go on telly these days you have to wear extra make up because of the high definition screens. If the telly width is now up to 110 inches, and they are filming you up close, then your pimples could be as much as half an inch, if your not carefull...

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So they literally use an airbrush to flatten your face. Here it is being loaded with foundation cream.

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I was invited to show Alan my knitted dry stone wall, alongside Ingrid and her giant needles, and Helen from up north who knitted tea time and was very nervous. We were there as support for Pauline McLynn who was staring in a comedy at the Globe Theatre, and was wanting to talk about her knitted tea cosies which she sells. I think Pauline is a genius. She played Mrs Doyle on Father Ted. 

Here is ~Pauline helping Ingrid with her giant knitting. 

Mike Rutherford from Genesis was there too talking about his new book. I got confused and thought I knew him from the French House pub in Soho, so got too embarrassed to ask for his autograph. Here is a picture of Mike which I lifted off the internet. 

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Strange world television. I don't think anyone I know saw it, but I'm not sure. Its an experience. Its culture, and culture is good. We went to see Pauline in her play at Globe Theatre shortly afterwards and that was amazing.  

Preparing for Yan Tan Tethera Sampler Culture Clash at Cecil Sharp House home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society...

It's kind of impossible to tell the whole story with David Littler's Yan Tan Tethera show. Everyone in it had doors opened into their own heritage, whatever that was..Roswitha Chesher made a film which skimmed the surface of the project with great depth, here http://www.textilefolksong.co.uk/

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The Yan Tan Tethera project culminated in a live performance from sonic arts collective sampler-cultureclash as they unite Gaelic song with spinners, weavers and knitters, and traditional and electronic musicians in an exploration of things that spin. My knitting machine produced waves, slow and fast, crunchy waves, with some green space dyed seaweed stripes in Herdwick during the rehearsals.

The Yan Tan Tethera project culminated in a live performance from sonic arts collective sampler-cultureclash as they unite Gaelic song with spinners, weavers and knitters, and traditional and electronic musicians in an exploration of things that spin. My knitting machine produced waves, slow and fast, crunchy waves, with some green space dyed seaweed stripes in Herdwick during the rehearsals.

Knit a Door to Enter or Leave....

Apply to something, Knit to open, knit to close. Here is a pattern for a door. A paneled door, option one,  one way up;  option two,  the other way up.  Work in one, two or more colours. 

Taken from my pattern book of knitted charms, made for Yan Tan Tethera at Cecil Sharp house with David Littler 2014. From the song, 'Off Jumps Jack.'

Unravelling Ceremony

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Prick Your Finger

invites you to an Unravelling Ceremony presented by

Sallyanne Wood

(Please understand we are unravelling the ravelling done by the action of knitting, not the actual work)

Tea, wine, beer, soft drinks, cake and bargins.

Prick Your Finger, in it's present form will not re-open after Christmas.

Ever transforming, it has outgrown its original home and is ready to be fashioned into phase 2.

A new suitably crazy space is emerging, at it’s own pace.

In the meantime, I am writing a book about Mindfulness in textiles, and on-line sales will continue as normal.

So please come and celebrate the great times we have had here, and add your transforming energies.

You have been delightful and fascinating visitors and supporters, giving us an encouraging window on the world.

When I open the next door, I hope you will be there.

Love Rachael x

Poster made by Sally Anne Wood and Rachael Matthews

Open Tues-Saturday until December 20th

at Prick Your Finger, 260 Globe Rd, London E2 0JD

Insulin Darn.

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Today starts a new project with East London Textile Arts.

Our brief is to learn all there is to know about Type 2 Diabeties, through textiles.  Some of the Adults with learning difficulties are diabetic and some aren't.  Their first mission is to make all this sugar disappear into these knitted blood vessels, made with pink Wendsleydale ply yarn!  Next week, they will represent Insulin with green yarn, which will travel in little running stitches, along the pink vessels, and when the Insulin Stitchers arrive at the sweets, they have to avoid picking the sweets out of the lace stitches, and instead, darn them 'in' until they disappear.  Sophie, Fareen and Sandra have the job of making this happen, and I have armed them with some spare sweets, in case of strong protests.

Once 'the sugar is dejested' we will make the body parts connected to this, like Pancreas gland etc.  Watch this space, and watch that sweet tooth.

The Tower of Babel.

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Babel1

Barnaby Barford's Tower of Babel at the V&A  is a richly-layered work that tells an array of stories about our capital city, our society and economy, and ourselves as consumers. Standing an imposing six metres tall, it is made up of 3000 individual bone china buildings, each between 10 and 13 cm high and each depicting a real London shop. Barford cycled over 1000 miles during the making of The Tower, visiting every postcode in London and photographing well over 6000 shops in the process. These photographs were used to produce the ceramic transfers that have been fired onto the shops, making each shop a unique work of art in its own right. And Prick Your Finger features about just under half way up!

Barnaby asks us.....“This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st century and I’m asking, how does it make you feel?”

When I went to see it last week I found it very difficult to find Prick Your Finger, but when I did I felt proud to see it hanging on in there.

At The Tower’s base, the shops are derelict, closed-down and boarded-up. Then, as we start to ascend, we find chicken shops, pound shops, and bookies. Climb further and we encounter specialist retailers of all descriptions, chic boutiques and artisan food stores that cater for the aspirational consumer’s every need. Nearing the top, the shops become ever-more exclusive, until finally we reach the pinnacle with London’s fine art galleries and auction houses, where goods are sold at eye-watering prices.

This hierarchy of consumption is echoed in the retail prices of The Tower’s shops, every one of which is for sale. Buy a derelict shop and you might pay £95. Choose a fine art gallery and you could be looking at £6000.  Prick Your Finger was  suprisingly valued at a sturdy £250, along side some quite major brands.

Playfully, Barford likens our efforts to find fulfilment through retail to the biblical Tower of Babel’s attempt to reach heaven. His seemingly precarious Tower poses questions about the nature of our society and the fragility of economy, exposing the divide between rich and poor.

Text mainly by Alun Graves and Barnaby Barford, 2015. but heavily edited and slightly added to by me.

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It is HUGE. Here is a clever picture from the V&A website which makes it look smaller but at lease it all fits in the picture.

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2015HU6560

Autumn Sale!

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This is the sort of Sale which stretches your imagination...in that we are selling off cheap the things which stretch your imagination.

Like why did knitters feel so confident in the 1980's?

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And in millions of years, what will the fossils of acrylic yarn look like?

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And for those of you who wonder what our Bundles are for, well they are purely an opportunity, only now they are a bit cheaper.

Not pictured here are some additional sacks full of oddities and rarities, and things that we can't imagine what you will do with.

Mae has arrived - get your UFO's ready!

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MaeShow

Dear All,

Mae Finlayson has arrived from Tazmania to administrate and remove any Unfinished Craft projects, we can no longer live with.

The service is free and comes with a free beer and a free conversation.

Mae will be answering questions about her practice, and study of the 'Never Made'.

Our event starts at 6pm today and finishes at 9pm. Un Finished Objects will be emigrating to Tazmania next week. Please make sure you package the works your self and that they contain no dangerous substances.

FOr more information, please visit maefinlayson.com

Rope Making with Sound UAL Thinkers.

https://vimeo.com/133047873 'Crap-tech ' was a name given (usually by non-believers) to some of my early textile engineering projects.  Crap they might look, and low tech they always are, but here is proof that high tech has to start with the low.  On Monday, I jointed the UAL 'High Tech Low Tech Community', to help  investigate how sound could travel through rope.

Here is a draft film featuring the Rope Making Machine Mark 1, cobbled together with one end of an old 3 ply rope making mechanism bought in Huddersfield, an industrial trolly,  a wheel made from a revolving cake stand, some ply wood and two cupboard handles, and two ply controlling tools cut out of scraps of pine.

Sound effects on film to be improved upon soon...

Clamps were also essential.

The group consists of Anne Marr Course Leader BA Textile design CSM, Tom Gardner, Senior Lecturer in Communication at LCC, Kevin Walker, Head of Program in Information Experience Design RCA, Colin Priest, Course Leader, BA Interiors and Spatial Design, and Nicholas Marechel physical Computing specialist from LCC.

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These UAL tutors really love their investigation work.  Here they are recording everything.  I now refuse to accept Crap - Tech as an applicable adjective.  The most simple tools can enable big thinkers to come up with beautiful ideas.  The discussions after we made rope, gushed. 

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Rope Making becomes really interesting when you mix the materials.  The thin rope on the right was made with paper and copper wire, which came in thin strips, which we then knotted together.  The Paper yarn, which was twisted before we started, remained strong through out the process. The Copper however became very loose with the first twists, and then as the plying together happened, it became very tight, to the point of us wondering whether it might snap. It didn't snap. Usually when you free the newly made rope from the machine, it behaves as we all do when let loose from a tight situation - it bounces, dances a bit, likes to untangle itself and feel a bit free. A Rope needs to be giggled about a bit before it finds it's true nature.  The wire and paper rope didn't do this - it just stayed the same, happy to do as it was told.  The Group gave this rope the working title of  BT/Infinity/Virgin.

Colin bought some pom pom yarn from the pound store, which made some interesting effects when mixed with flatter yarns.  Here it is twisted with jute and cotton.  Working title name 'Referendum'.

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Anne had a fascinating sample of rope  which could withstand the heat of a kiln.  Anne had covered a knot in slip and fired it; no burn effect on the fibres at all.  This could lead to amazing works, but a big hinderence is that it costs £4,000/m, which makes this sample worth at lease £1000, possibly more if you add the value of Anne's genius and simple idea. Nicholas Marechel's  edition of a 'We' enabled the collecting of data, which could later be used to guide composition.  Here it is bound to one ply of cotton rope, and below the information being gathered as Colin wound the handle,

I really liked Tom's idea that the Rope Making Machine has 3 ply, and in music the basic Chords,  have 3 notes.  That got me thinking about 3's and I was led to a Wikipedia page about Philosophical Trichotomies!

Yes! Everything fits into 3's for philosophers through the ages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichotomy_(philosophy)

Including my favourite philosophers, the low tech Punks.  Here are the 3 chords you need to start a band, as seen in 'Sniffin' Glue ' magazine 1976.

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The High Tech Low Tech community have asked me back to work on a sound piece with them in September.  Watch this space for the next installment.

Yan Tan Tethera -Mandala Construction #2.

   

In May 2014, Prick Your Finger presented the first opportunity for a  Knitted Mandala at the 'Yan Tan Tethera' Show at Cecil Sharp House in London. The Show was curated by David Littler, who gave us a wonderful chance to go through the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Sharps and pull out songs about making textiles, which we could then sing with Aimee Leonard's Folk choir.

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Last weekend we went on tour to Winbourne's Walford Mill,  to show our works and take part in the Winbourne Folk Festival. Here we all are,  at the mill, gathered like we are in a band photo, in between Freddie Robins's artworks.  We were all camping in a field down the road, and as you can see from the photo, we had kept 'it' all together.  Top left is David Littler our curator, and the one who makes everything funny and possible. In the middle is Aimee Leonard, who sings like a lark, with a soft Orkney accent, and can get any tune out of her drum, which she made herself.  Shane Waltner is crouching down at the back, and he is our master of lace dancing in the street, and on the dance floor.  He can calmly mastermind many dancers to weave fabric whilst dancing to a fiddle.   Faye McNulty with her practical boots, is a wizard in the print room, and runs the events at the English Folk Song and Dance Society. This means she can  make anything run smoothly, and give you that feeling that you are  on holiday, which is the emotion that I am expressing on the  floor on the right hand side.   Those flipflops were hopeless for barn dancing later.

 

walford_ytt_mcgrath1We missed our absent friends, Freddie Robins, Stewart Easton, Celia Ward and the McGrath Makers, and all our friends from Spin Cycle.  Here is a morris dancing outfit made by the McGrath Makers, the adults with learning difficulties, who would have loved to see all the other Morris Dancers at the festival.

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The idea of a Mandala came about when thinking about  the communial knitting projects we had experienced before, and the singing of traditional songs to help us get through the work. Curating site specific knitting events is always strange because time has to play such a huge part in your plans.   Here is a booklet I produced for Yan Tan Tethera's knitters, showing patterns for little charms which could be added to the mandala.

Knitting is slow, so music and dance can be the key to getting a project finished.  There is a temptation for group knitting projects to produce something 'big'.  The knitted mandala was designed as an event piece having no beginning or end, and small pieces could be made and added to it at any time.

 

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Here we are one year ago, at Cecil Sharp's with the Mandala Mark#1.  This mandala had a solid, knitted background, which we realized made the application of charms, less fluid.  Each charm had to be stitched on, which prevented it from being moved easily.  We learned that charms need to be moved so they can relate to other charms as they arrive.

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The fluidity of the Mandala came with a re-build from 'string art'! Using the 'Knit by Numbers' range of Merino DK, the new background was woven in multi - shades of the same colours, giving a new depth and plenty of space to hide, gather and accentuate the charms which had been added. string-manadala1

As new groups bring new charms to the piece, we can now arrange new patterns.

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It took a long time to bang in all the nails around the edges, but the work was a joy to make and it cast beautiful shadows on the floor.  It was fun hiding the sheep in between the grass, and letting the mini socks fall out of the sky.  string-manadala4Sometimes the mandala looks good with lots of yellow ducks gathered together to form the sun, (as seen above)  and sometimes it is nice to have the space in the middle just left black. string-manadala5

 

Here are the Winbourne knitters having a go at the Yan Tan Tethera Patterns.  Aimee taught us folk songs while we worked, and pretty soon we were all joining in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

walford_ytt_knitters2David Littler our curator, learned to knit again! He's really good when he gets going, but his little tie is still too small to wear. It really doesn't matter though - he got us all there in the first place, so we reckon he is a great knitter whatever he does.

walford_ytt_knitters7The Winbourne knitters made their contributions in acrylics, despite the free matching merino on offer. It was their choice of yarn, and as a result their work really stands out, so we will always remember them!  walford_ytt_matthews5The amount of knitted orange chickens continues to overwhelm us. They are so popular.

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It's a nice vibe at Walford Mill.  If you don't want to knit you can sit and watch the YTT film in one of the arm chairs, which is asking for embroidered graffiti.  There are Shane Waltner's Bobbins from his lace dancing hanging in the window.

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Shane's lace dancing was great out in the street. Ben played the fiddle and Amiee her drum and her you can see all the threads from all the dancers, taking over the street.

walford_ytt_waltener_performance_13It's a bit like maypole dancing I guess, or friendship bracelets on a rather large scale. Shane calls the finished piece a 'score'.

These were my favourite Morris Dancers, the Exmoor Borders.  I bet they wear John Arbon's teal and purple 4ply alpacca socks in winter.

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Knit-a thon at Grant Museum of Zoology.

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Ruth Marshall is an Australia artist knitter, who's craftivist practice is concerned with the extinction of animals. She has knitted many skins, mounted as if they were hunting trophies.  Our Knit-a Thon was scheduled for 12 hours, and aimed to help knitters make Possom skins, and knit items from the amazing collection at the Grant museum of Zoology.  Max was really excited and the museum staff loved to see her knitted moths, which were amazingly similar to the real specemins, although much smaller! There were lots of bones to study. Marrianne crocheted a spider monkey skull, which she was then allowed to photograph in the display case.

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I studied a Gorilla Fumer, which I found really hard to knit.

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I was pleased later when a bone expert said it was ok. It's the top of the thigh were the socket goes into the hip, but I only got half way. 

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Many of the knitters, knitted possoms, starting with the tail.  Many posomms were finished and were taken home for pressing.

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Some of the possoms turned into other things! Like this squid! Everything was so interesting. Here we are having a lecture by Sarah a Phd Student, who talked about artists showing wonderment in wildlife.  Claire'd mother had adopted a dissected cat in the museum, so loved coming to knit along side it. Claire was amazed that she could knit the dissected cat. Here are the start of it's intestines. Mother and daughter will be coming back to visit the cat more often, especially now Claire's mother has a lifetime adoption of her half a pet.  Half way through the day people were really understanding that you can knit 'anything'. The museum is such a wonderful resource and opportunity to turn your stitch vocab into something unusual.

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Max knitted this flying fish in the fastest time imaginable.  The curators and staff were so very kind and generous with their knowledge.

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They are very pro- creativity, and  open to suggestions.  They create a lovely atmosphere for knitting.

They might be finding odd knitted creatures coming their way for quite a while! Thanks for a lovely day everyone.

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There are 5 UFO's from yesterday. Please await a future post to see and/or adopt them. 

Tamari at the Trinity Centre.

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Adults with learning difficulties enlighten  teachers.  balls9

They require us look deeper into how things can be made.balls7

The Tamari making workshop gave each student a polystyrene ball, which they could wrap up in yarn. Pins could help them place yarns or control them if their hands were a bit shaky. The carers of our students also learned a lot.   Many of them learned to collaborate on design, helping to find the right colours and use pins to make shapes.balls8

Sheila has neatly placed direction in her winding and likes to see the colours coming through in shapes from the layer below.

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Josie loves the pastel pinks and oranges, to match her hair which is strawberry blonde.  She was wearing a shirt with a purple pattern, so we added a purple stripe to the ball. Not too much though, as the pinks were important.

Our workshop was on the day of the general election. There were a lot of red flags flying at the Trinity Community Centre in East Ham where we were working. Red yarn was the most popular .  balls5

The Candidate kept popping in to the centre to pick up her papers. Every time she did, the students nabbed her for a photo and gave her another red Tamari ball. balls15

The pins allowed us to make shapes in the ball, which meant we could add letters! Here is 'L' for Labour.  balls2

Eddie really loved the work. He changed colour a lot and enjoyed making the ball change shape.  balls11

One of the carers helped make a Tamari face.balls4

Some of the tamari balls are unfinished and will keep getting bigger and bigger forever.  balls3

Together the balls make a lovely collection. We have all learned such a lot.

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Finished UFO

  This little minty thing was hanging around in the UFO Project administration for years. It is  small, knitted on approx 2mm needles with  intricate decreasing in the middle and at the edges.

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Ellen made this detailed drawing.

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light greeen piece

The Piece was adopted by Jackie, after a talk about UFO's which I gave to the Guild of Spinners Weaver and Dyers in West London.

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A few weeks later Jackie sent us this picture of her finished piece, which she now has framed in her home.  The little decreases have directed Jackie into a delicate heart shape. What a gem. 

12 Hour Knit-a-thon, while specemins look on! Come!

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/whats-on/#1319  

 

Great Grant Knit-a-Thon

Date: 19th May | Time: 10am to 10pm | Location: Grant Museum of Zoology, Rockefeller Building, University College London, University Street, WC1E 6DE | Price: Free | Age group: Any

Strange Creatures After Hours The night owls amongst you can join the bats, aardvarks, hedgehogs and other nocturnal specimens to enjoy Strange Creatures After Hours. Animals have been presented in bizarre and the incredible ways, come take another look at the natural world with our film night, late opening, open mic night, talks and drawing sessions.

Inspired by artist Ruth Marshall's knitted skin of a Tasmanian Tiger on display, The Grant Museum of Zoology has teamed up with East London yarning Collective Prick Your Finger to bring you The Great Grant Knit-a-Thon. Bring your knitting needles along to stich one, purl one or your crochet hooks and create an animal skin of your own. From 10am till 10pm visitors are invited to pop in, at lunch or after work with a glass of wine, and craft a menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures. We have skilled tutors to provide a helping hand and for the experts there are prizes to be won for the best knitted beast inspired by the Museum’s amazing collection. Explore the museum's current exhibition Strange Creatures and hear from co-curator Sarah Wade how natural history museums can use contemporary art and craft to engage with visitors.

This event is free and there is no need to book, drop in at any point over the day.

For more details contact Dean Veall 020 3108 2052 | d.veall@ucl.ac.uk