Finally installed my machine knitted and embroidered piece into the attic at Ordsall Hall today. It’s taken a while to make with all that dyeing of yarn and a misbehaving knitting machine. It’s not the machine’s fault, it has just been too humid this month to work with wool, so it’s been a bit of a battle to keep it on the machine. Despite these difficulties, it was a joy to see it in situ and looking even better than I’d hoped.
The theme of the project was commemoration, linking in to events commemorating the start of First World War and with the bigger Poppies Project that starts with The Big Poppy Picnic at Ordsall Hall this weekend. My intention was to create a comfort blanket to suggest warmth, memory, attachment, care and repair and the passing of time to add warmth and homeliness to the housekeeper’s attic.
The design of the blanket developed from images of the textures found in the hall.I’ve gathered lots of stories about how people commemorate events, family and friends, and particularly the objects they use to commemorate them. The felted tiles include stories of an ice cream bowl that reminds someone of Wilfred Owen, a missing propeller, and a collection of unwanted shells. One lady brought in the postcard her mother posted on holiday from Scotland the day before she died unexpectedly and which arrived the day after, and a gentleman brought in his grandfather’s WWI sergeant’s fitness manual. There’s a sadly missed cat, and clogs that a lady’s dad made for her. I’ve included my Granddad’s WWI Medals. There’s Margaret Radclyffe – aka The White Lady (see Ghost Cam).– and her twin brother, Alexander, as children playing and lots of images from the patterns in the hall.
The middle panel was made by members of the public using my simple knitting machine, The Knitmaster (now Silver Read) LK 150 Option 4 in the Frederic Shields gallery. This was to represent the wattle and daub that is integral to the structure of the hall. We created loops to thread twigs through as shown above. Using the knitting machine in public triggered many memories of the 1970s, as people recalled their mothers and grandmothers making jumpers and scarves for them. Many older people remembered with fondness what they made and who they made it for, with many regretting that they gave the machine away!