Saturday, 24 October 2009

Po-knit-ical - blanket of ideas

Having followed the ‘little red blog of revolutionary knitting’ for a while, I was super-excited to hear that the lady behind it all, Lisa Anne Auerbach, was coming to Nottingham, as was an exhibition of her work. Auerbach is probably best known for her slogan sweaters which she has knitted with topics from elections, to abortion and now Nottingham!
This exhibition was accompanied by a totally inspirational talk by the artist, which was where I found out about the ‘blanket of ideas’ project. The project involved bringing along patterns and short political texts to discuss while knitting up political squares that will then be stitched together into Nottingham Contemporary’s very own Blanket of Ideas.
In her talk, Lisa mentioned that she doesn’t attend knitting groups at home due to the dull topics of conversation ranging from television shows to television shows. This inspired her to set up her own one-off knitting circle where those attending were asked to bring political texts to inspire their knitting and encourage more interesting conversation.
I left the talk excited by the prospect of the knitting event on Saturday and deep in thought about what my knitted square could represent. I decided on using the ‘Jigsaw youth’ song by Bikini Kill as my inspiration, the lyrics highlight the fact that you don’t have to fit into society’s pre-conceived roles if you don’t want to, you can make your own way! My design was a red square containing a black jigsaw piece. With my pattern plotted out and my Mum now coming along with me, we set off for a day of knitting. The event was held at ‘The art organisation’ in Nottingham, and this is what welcomed us on our arrival, a group of knitters deep in conversation and concentration in equal parts!

We pulled up our chairs and got our knit...and chat on! The lady next to me was freestylin’ her knit, the design of which took the form of a burning cross (some anger at the catholic church there)the finished piece was amazing! Her friend was knitting a very simple piece about equal pay and another design was a dove stitched onto a plain background. These 3 pieces alone spurred plenty of interesting conversation! Lisa Auerbach was a great leader for this project, always chatting to newcomers in the group and really interested in what everyone was doing as well as having an interesting stories behind her own squares.

The square Lisa was creating on the day was a lace knit design inspired by a story about a woman who was saved from an awful fate by her spider friends. This story came from a book of feminist fairytales by Barbara Wilson, an author who is best known for her great knitting books written in the 80s!

It was a great event and I really enjoyed the company, the conversation and the knitting, although I might have managed more knitting if I wasn’t chatting so much! As the pile of very varied finished squares grew you could see that the finished blanket was going to be a really interesting piece. Starting on November 14th The Blanket of Ideas will be displayed at Nottingham Contemporary, and I can’t wait to see it!

All Photographs by Alan Fletcher; Courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary

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