It has been such a busy few weeks working on various sound projects… busy, and extremely inspiring.
But as all you fashion-conscious knitters will be asking yourselves, just what should one wear when it is still cold near the start of spring, and when one is engaged in a constant and packed schedule of sound-related cultural events? It’s a pressing question indeed, and one I began answering a couple of years ago when I commenced the KNITSONIK project. Here is a blank worksheet made in 2011, all ready for me to begin designing handknits specifically for the purpose of making field-recordings. I love mixing utility with design; practicality and enablement with pattern and statement; and I longed for an expressive and personal garment, but which would also be empowering to wear when I first embarked on KNITSONIK pattern designing almost two years ago…
Back at the start of this venture, I decided that when a lot of recording is required, one main outfit feature should definitely be deep and sturdy POCKETS for the secure placement of recording devices…
…of course if one is recording a lot, and also blatting around between events such as those detailed in the extremely dense Audiograft and related HEARth programmes, it would be good to have some tiny holes in which to secure microphone and headphone cables, no? This would be great for stopping the busy field-recordist from tripping over loose cables and also means one can be stylish and tidy whilst documenting interesting sonic phenomena…
…and if one were going to be super-technically-specific, the ideal field-recordist garment for this brisk springtime weather would also include some strategically placed holes near the neckline, so that microphones exiting the garment wherein they have been neatly stashed away could be placed one on the left shoulder, and one on the right, for collecting nice stereo impressions of the soundscape.
For instance if one stood for 45 minutes on a chilly evening on the Ladeuzeplein in Leuven, listening to the Carrilon in the library there playing James Bond, one would need to be warm, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a nice silent woolly yoke for one’s wind-covered microphones to gently rest against. In this way, one could become a temporary human microphone-stand, one’s shoulders cradling the microphones and one’s woolly garment protecting one from the freezing wind.
It would also be good for a custom-made field-recordist outfit to feature some sort of visual cue or indicator of the wearer’s status and vocation… perhaps the play, pause and record buttons so frequently used within field-recording would do the trick?
Also, because the work of a sound-artist often requires careful listening, the ideal garment would be comprised of a silent, non-rustling material. Manmade fabrics such as outdoor jackets are made of, are notoriously NOISY. They fill the air around microphones with an irritating layer of self-noise, unlike very quiet WOOL which does not rustle when knitted at a tight-enough gauge, and which, when stretched streamlined across the wearer’s body, is excellently flexible and quiet whilst on the move or out sound-hunting.
Finally, because the work of a soundartist is varied, a custom-built listening/recording KNITSONIK TUNIK should be versatile. It should be therefore equally appropriate for recording and listening to the nice waterfowl beside the river Thames…
…presenting one’s research at The British Library, during a symposium about field-recording (and before you ask, yes I did record my presentation on little microphones placed at my shoulders!)…
…or DJ-ing at the Audiograft after-party!
But WAIT! According to the photographic evidence, my dreamed-for field-recordist/sound-artist/KNITSONIK LISTENING TUNIK exists! At some point between speaking about my work, presenting and performing at festivals, writing funding applications and applying for jobs, I appear to have completed the longed-for garment!!!
It is such an incredibly niche item – specifically shaped to my precise measurements – that I do not think a commercial pattern release for the sweater makes any sort of sense at all. But legwarmer and beanie patterns are in the pipeline for those of you who need more TEKNIKAL DESIGNS in your lives, and for those of you who – like me – are all about mixing the world of SOUNDS with the world of LISTENING.
The best thing so far about KNITSONIK LISTENING TUNIK are the things we have discovered together as wearer and garment. We have heard amazing things; the speakers and sounds presented at “In the Field”; the Carrilons of Leuven; and – at Audiograft – the wonders of mixing Valeria Merlini’s 2012 Audiograft recordings with Daphne Oram; a record of steam-train sound FX; and Meredith Monk mixed with “Do the Bartman”. I also got a request to play Peter Cusack’s “Swifts over Stoke Newington” during my set, which I shall take as an omen that future instances of FELIXDJ are a given career progression.
I blame the sweater for this profusion of sonic outpourings; it’s just impossible not to go all out on the listening, the sound-making, the sounding, the hearing and the TURBOSONIK whilst garbed in my custom-made KNITSONIK TUNIK. I hope the legwarmers and beanie have a similarly inspiring KNITSONIK EFFEKT, so that once they filter out into online KNITWERLD, a profusion of listening and appreciation for our wonderful world of sounds will follow…
I am empowered and enabled by my design!
Pattern design: ‘KNITSONIK LISTENING TUNIK’ by Felicity Ford
Yarn: assorted 100% British Wool Yarns in 4-ply from Blacker Yarns – including Corriedale, Border Leicester and Shetland
Needles: 3.25mm 120cm circular needle and DPNs (for sleeves)
Photo Credits – many thanks to Mark Stanley for the photos of me in the TUNIK beside the Thames and at The British Library. Thanks also to Pier Corona for the great DJ Shots! Pier takes amazing photos every year at Audiograft and I love that he captured the moment when I was trying to synchronise Daphne Oram’s “Snow” with a wonderful 7″ record of steam train sound effects which someone had bought along for our DIY DISCO HEARth set… thanks Pier!