The Domestic Soundscape making, listening, thinking+44(0)7835136201
f.ford@brookes.ac.uk

02-Shetland
Shetland Wool Week

I feel honoured to have been invited to Shetland Wool Week 2013 along with the amazingly talented Tom van Deijnin, AKA tomofholland, and Di Gilpin, who was awarded The Balvenie Master of Craft award for the Textiles Category for 2012. Tom and I worked together on WOVEMBER last year, however I’ve not yet met Di Gilpin and am really looking forward to doing so at Shetland Wool Week! My involvement with WOVEMBER has made me much more aware of the need for fashion businesses precisely like Di Gilpin Ltd. and I cannot wait to learn more about this endeavor and Di Gilpin’s design work.

08-SWW

Shetland Wool Week, image © Dave Wheeler and used with kind permission

I am also really excited to see that some of my favourite people from WOOLWERLD will be there, including Deb Robson, (who is my hero for her amazing work with wool from different sheep breeds) and Susan Crawford, (who is my hero for her amazing work with Vintage Knitwear). I can’t wait to see you all there!

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while won’t be surprised to discover that one of my presentations at Shetland Wool Week focuses on Listening to Shetland Wool.

28-hurd

Hûrd – A KNITSONIK™ PRODUKTION – Listening to Cumbrian Wool

Everyone is invited to bring knitting projects along to work on during this event, which celebrates the role that sounds can play in our understandings and celebration of regional woollen textiles, and which will feature a selection of Oral Histories from the Shetland Museum Archives plus field recordings yet to be made by me, in Shetland.

You would think that all spinning wheels sound like spinning wheels and that all sheep sound like sheep, but this is not at all the case. In Estonia, shepherds are inclined to use huge Maremma guard dogs to protect their flocks from the wolves that roam in the forests. In the UK we do not have wolves, and all the shepherds I met in Cumbria use border collies to round up their sheep. These breeds of dogs make completely different sounds. Another example: the sturdy legs of Cumbrian Herdwick sheep produce a thunderous sound when a flock move en masse, whereas small, primitive breeds are somehow lighter on their feet and tend to scatter rather than consolidate when a dog tries to get round them. In Estonia – since there are no longwool sheep – there is no tradition of combing or worsted spinning and so the sounds of that technology (so prevalent in the history of British Wool…) cannot be heard in Estonia. And these sonic differences exist before you even get into regional dialects, and words for wool in different languages! Wherever you go, wool sounds distinctive…

Here are some of the recordings I created in Estonia while exploring Estonian wool in sound:

I am deeply looking forward to listening to wool specifically in Shetland. As a non-Shetlander whose principal focus is on sound, listening will play an essential part in helping me to discover and learn about this place.

02-Shetland

As well as “Listening to Shetland Wool”, I am offering two knitting workshops during Shetland Wool Week. One of these is themed around utilising the different sheepy shades of Jamieson & Smith Supreme Jumper Weight to knit a baby-sized version of Layter;

layter-sideways

Layter – the adult size; a babysized version is on the way!

…the other workshop is called “Quotidian Colourwork” and in this, knitters are invited to bring objects of personal significance and worth, and/or photos, books etc. in order to develop colourwork charts based on things that are meaningful to them.

This theme has preoccupied me for several years, and I am very glad for an opportunity to focus on it for Shetland Wool Week!

09-JandS

I looked back through my archives and found references to making knitted things based on sloes; tree bark; and beautiful Reading Brickwork; now I am galvanized to complete all the charts for these various ideas! I know I am not a very prolific publisher of knitting patterns, but I have many swatches and colourwork ideas charted out, and would very much like to share the pleasure of turning familiar, everyday things into personalised colourwork charts… to produce beautiful knitted versions of sloes, bark, and bricks.

03-sloes

2007 – ‘the bluish/purplish bloom on all wild plum-style things’

04-bark

2009 – ‘Is it just me or does that just seem like the most perfect readymade Fair Isle inspiration for something?’

05-bricks

2011 – ‘Yesterday started out with an installment of Reading brick-watching and knit-dreaming. (Don’t all these brickwork patterns just scream “FAIRISLE” at you?)’

Happily as well as the Quotidian/Fair Isle swatch-fest that is about to begin, there has been some actual garment knitting taking place around here:

06-legwarmers

I have been combining sonic and knitterly themes for me in the form of a pair of legwarmers for soundwalks, and churning out baby things for a new Nephew in the family (say hello to my tiny nephew, Tom). Actually, in Brussels after delivering the Tuned City field recording workshop with Valeria Merlini, I found a wonderful shop selling baby things; I went in and listened to every single rattle there, and picked out the one that sounded best to me… so perhaps sonic and knitterly themes were combined there, too.

07-baby-things

Finally, Tom and I are about to embark on a KNITSONIK/tomofholland collaborative experiment which mixes up the worlds of sound and knitting; full details to be revealed in time! I am looking forward to this immensely and feel I shall learn much in the process from Tom. It will be lovely to be able to share THE SOUNDS and THE KNITTING together in a joint project!

01-Tom-in-Gansey

Tom, making Sonic Wallpaper

I am really happy to be involved with Shetland Wool Week, and feel honoured to have been asked. THANK YOU! I really hope to see some of you there, Fx

2 Responses to Shetland Wool Week

  1. mark says:

    I can testify to Felix’s exuberance and enthusiasm for Shetland Wool Week – she has just given me an impromput lecture from the bathtub on something called The Truck System, which I now understand to be a BAD thing for Shetland women of yore!

    This post is perfect, the Quotidian Colourwork workshop sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and goodness knows what will happen to knitters who indulge in the mindblowing cocktail of a Felix/Tom workshop!

  2. Jen says:

    Felix, I am sad that there’s just no way this hermit (me) will be able to escape the guards of her self-imposed hermitage and make it to Shetland Wool Week, where you are no question, fast becoming the next celebrity ! I love , love,love the chocolatey , cafe latte-ey language of your Layter, and just want to give you a big ol’ round of applause !

    :: claps wildly ::

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