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

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STANDING AT A CROSSROADS

Hiya, comrades!
I have missed you!
I did not mean to disappear for over two months!

The truth is, there’s been rather a lot going on… A festivalPodcasting… Knitting…

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Mainly, I have been having a Big Long Think about What Comes Next (this involves The Knitting).

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I find myself at a crossroads. My job at Oxford Brookes is ending on 1st May. The year has flown and there is no cash around to renew my post. This is scary but it is also exciting. The scary part is How Will I Eat and the exciting part is asking What Shall I Do Next? The research post has been wonderful; I have been prolific and busy, researching my socks off, and not having to worry constantly about money! The stability provided by the post has given me an opportunity to get a broad overview of my work, and I feel supremely glad to have had a little time to think.

Mostly I have been thinking about knitting + wool + sounds. [Warning: this idea comes with LOLcat.]

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Before I held this academic position, I was in a kind of fear-based craziness of doing far too many projects all at once, many of which were somewhat underpaid – or at least which took more time than the available donuts covered. I am grateful for every opportunity I’ve ever had, but with my head above water, I’ve realised all I want to do forever and ever until I die is KNITSONIK. KNITSONIK is my own take on the world; it’s a vision that celebrates the everyday world through listening and knitting and thinking. It’s about appreciating ordinary things in knitting + wool + sounds, and it is completely unique.

KNITSONIK started with my knitting some speakers and playing the sounds of making my dinner through them.

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I then knitted teabags (between making radio about the perfect cup of tea) and spuds (meanwhile recording the peeling of potatoes).

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KNITSONIK was always mixing The Knitting with The Sounds.

However as KNITSONIK has evolved, it’s grown into something about WOOL, too, and celebrating the origins of this glorious substance in distinctive regions and places – In Cumbria, Estonia, Shetland. KNITSONIK now combines knitting + wool + sounds to celebrate why Cumbrian wool, Estonian wool, Shetland wool – are different from each other. Distinctive, special, specific.

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The KNITSONIK mobile on Pam Hall’s farm in Cumbria, recording Herdwicks!

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The Estonian native sheep on Jaani Talu, the fine wool farm of Joel and Julika Roos!

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Fishing for sounds off St. Ninian’s Isle, Shetland, in my allover, knitted by Alice Simpson of Whalsay!

KNITSONIK now also has a podcast. I am especially honoured that the forum on Ravelry where this is most discussed is the Goat Devoted forum. Best of all, I am assured that some of my listeners are actual goats: you can’t argue with that.

Here I am proffering a baa-ing, 100% Shetland-wool clad speaker to an audience at “Playground on Fire” in Oxford. I am explaining that the pillow is made of Shetland wool, and that there is a special map where one can hear this wool growing in the landscape and being loaded onto a lorry to be spun into the very yarns they are holding. I’m in my Tall Yarns ‘n Tales spinning pinnie, with knitting + wool + sounds in my hands. The photo was taken by Pier Corona and I reckon it’s the most me I’ve ever looked.

09_PierCorona_FFord

It is sad that my contract is ending at Brookes, but it is also exciting that a possibility may exist for me to move forward devoting myself 100% to The KNITSONIK Mission. I have been Scheming on How It Could Be So. With my Scheming, the fear of an Uncertain Future is turning into a lovely feeling of The KNITSONIK Dream Unfolding. Even though I’ve not been here writing, I have been here, thinking about the things that I always think about.

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This blog has always been like a veg patch where I grow my ideas, and a burgeoning need to reap a good harvest has been steadily gathering force in me since Shetland Wool Week 2013. There is a book in my mind – seeded here amidst all the chatter and the HUGE PHOTOS – and I really feel I must write it. There will be knitting + wool + sounds.

There are new enterprises in the wings, one of which you will soon be able to read about here, and another of which shall soon arrive in the form of a glorious Kickstarter Campaign. So whilst having A Big Think, I have also been asking everyone I know for help, support, skillz, input and feedback. I’ve been whipping my mission into shape, and writing to all my comrades in KNITWERLD to ask “is this bonkers or do you love it?” The responses here have been very warm, very encouraging, and extremely humbling.

I am blown away by your kindness and support, and I feel a little bashful. Thank you everyone; you know who you are.

There is a super-duper blog tour planned, with some turbo awesome stops on the way, and a grand unveiling on Saturday 29th March. I do not wish to spill all the beanz just yet, but I will leave you one last tiny teaser…

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They say “go hard or go home”, so here I am, standing at a crossroads, absolutely positively definitely not going home… it’s going to be very exciting around here in a minute.

18 Responses to STANDING AT A CROSSROADS

  1. Laura's Loom says:

    Go for it Felix, I’m backing you all the way. Ride that wool wave while you can!

  2. You go girl. Transitions sometimes suck but sometimes are glorious, and those of us with an attachment to wool, yarn and knitting are saved from boredom and inactivity by holding on to that yarn. Kickstarter is a good idea, and also networking like this.

    I have a thought for you….get in touch with Greg Budney at Cornell University’s Library of natural Sounds (and say I sent you). It’s an amazing place housed in the Ornithology Lab here at Cornell. The keep and make recordings of birds and such, but why not sheep and yarn. He’s a really nice guy and would be intrigued by your work. And they let people give talks and they have a big fan base here in Ithaca and the world. Come to Ithaca. Make them pay for it. And check with the textile people in the Dept of Human Ecology which would love to have you. And you can stay with me as I live right down the hill from the University. An American Tour! yea! Feel free to contact me by email and we can chat about this and other American possibilities.

    Meredith Small
    ms32@cornell.edu (a former Woovember winner with the foto of tams)

  3. Deborah Gray says:

    Fantastic Felix!! an exciting and very brave development, which I am sure will be a huge success whichever direction(s) you take it, because of your unstoppable enthusiasm and way of engaging people.
    Looking forward to participating in the blog tour, and of course to our woolly adventures in Shetland during Wool Week 2014

    Deborah Gray
    http://www.prefectweatherforspinningandknitting.blogspot.com

  4. Linda says:

    Would LOVE to be part of your journey, in whatever way, shape or form. Maybe just as your personal dresser (ha!), or in a more involved way (yarns, other materials, show presence, studio, who knows!). Please let’s try to connect one way or another, either at one of the shows I exhibit at, or at my brand-spanking new studio/shop! Drop me a line when you have a minute and we’ll take it from there!
    Lindax

  5. Elaine says:

    This is all quite exciting, Felix. So many challenges and things to think about. I wish you the best in whatever endeavor you go for!!

  6. Jane says:

    Just to say this sounds so exciting – I can feel the excitement coming out of the screen! I’m someone who has enjoyed your podcasts very much, so the more/longer the carry on, the better. Good luck!

  7. Go for it and good luck!
    Jacqui x

  8. Jen says:

    I’m one of your fans … cheering you on. Hey, you must record the sound all those clapping cheering folk wishing you the best success ! I will subscribe to your blog… and keep up !

    (((by the way , ILOVE your tea towel of Kate’s designs. I have always been a drawer myself, and now I know , that in retro old-fashioned way of pre-computer days, I can also now draw my schematics. How empowering ! Thank you for that interview of your technique.)))

  9. Stella Adams-Schofield says:

    I find your Knitsonik project and ideas really exciting, good luck with the next step Felicity

  10. Liis says:

    Felix, this sounds really exciting – your adrenaline must be pumping! I can’t wait to meet you in May and talk about it – I guess we won’t do much sleeping…

  11. Nicky says:

    Yay! Go Felix!

    Anything I can do to help the dream, just let me know!

    (accommodation in yorkshire always available!)

  12. Sydney Levinson says:

    The fabulous Ed McKeon put you on my radar …. do you know about Music Tech Fest ? ….. just up your street !
    http://www.musictechfest.org/
    Loving your project and excited to see where you take it !

  13. Mark Stanley says:

    Hello gorgeous Felix!

    What a beautiful, honest, reflective post you’ve written ..sorry it took me a few days to get round to reading it!

    It has been a curious time watching you figure out which way to turn and Joey and I are both very excited by the direction you have chosen.

    xxx

  14. carys davies says:

    Great post Felicity. I agree it’s so hard to focus on the EXACT thing you want to do but so necessary. I’ve been recording sounds of ceramic pots being piled up (I’m a potter), without knowing quite what to do with it, how it all fits in, but there’s definately something about quiet, ambient sounds. Sounds about touching, sitting, being that’s something to do with awareness, mindfulness: that’s important. Like the slow films in Norway. Craftivist Collective too has this make-zen moment.

    You are Brave too. Very very best wishes – I am wafting you all my good feelings to support you and look forward to future posts.

  15. Jeannette Smyth says:

    so excited for you. just talking about you today in a coffee shop in albuquerque, new mexico, with a young artist whose last installation featured stinky cheese semi-washed wool.

  16. Joanna says:

    I made a note to comment on this days ago and have only just got around to it, spurred by your exciting tweet yesterday. I just LOVE your approach here: so positive, so full of creativity. I am convinced only good things can come from the combination of Felix, writing, wool and sounds and am hugely looking forward to whatever transpires.

  17. Jacqui says:

    Great blog with your drive and passion it will all work out for you. Now children love knitting and sadly for some there is nobody to spend the time and show or share with them. Try to get a school skills programme I am thinking knitted head phones per your pic knitted mobile and tablet covers?? I have seen felted versions why not knitted?

    • That’s a nice idea, Jacqui! I would love to show children how to cover headphones with knitting, but I wonder if there are any schools with budget to pay for workshops like that?

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