To craft something that has taken a journey of almost one year incorporating everything from the ill-tempered, sleeping cat that lies by my side as I write this piece to the deeply difficult-to-learn (for me) digital CAD knit design, to make a lace knitted piece that I never knew could exist an academic year ago, is a good place to be.
Is it craft?
If, as written by Louise Valentine in the paper ‘Craft as a form of Mindful Inquiry’ is the case, then, I feel entirely relieved.
‘On reflection of the intellectual and social meanings of craft practice, craft is often misunderstood as skilful making. The notion of craft as a concern for innovation, individual vision and future cultural concerns: a fusion of art, science, engineering and technology, is uncommon’
The relief is born from realising my knitted pieces are craft in the sense of a fusion, a journey of enquiry and perpetual activity, not as skilful making. Because, the result would be denied as skill by many. The knitted pieces look to ‘hold skill’ but don’t look quite skilful because they are messy and ill fitting. It is uncommon to consider the fusion of knitting and technology as craft but the outcome can be.
How to make messy – attractive?
The lace trousers are the embodiment of my practice to date. Each loop and knot and lace hole contains all that I have seen and felt in Shetland over the last two years – they are possibly my most intellectual activity to date but not the most attractive or practical. To make these trousers, unbeknown to me at the beginning, I navigated through the naivety of an idea (to make a tube of lace into sculptural trousers) through basic technical mastery of a software package (CAD), to develop an art practice that shows not tells. My thinking process was knocked and shaped by software and ideas whereby I gained an awareness and understanding of practical things to take forward such as drape, tension, size, linking, mirroring stitch patterns, and finishes. My initial aim was not trousers but to learn the software and to power knit machine lace. The trousers grew out of trial and error.
But really, the joy that has come far outweighs the practical learning. My joy in holding something that I have made which has drawn on stitch patterns developed from what I saw in the lace cabinets in The Shetland Museum and the Bod of Gremista. This joy far outweighs the acquired technical knowledge to get to this point.
The technical knowledge I can take away, the embodiment is within.
Hours of looking, seeing, sensing have gone into this small, slightly unattractive piece of wrongly shaped knitting, which now is the start of my second year as a part time student at NTU for a discourse for craft and mindful inquiry. The lace trousers are currently my ‘capacity to synthesize and integrate information’
Exploration in knit design is, for me, a dance with an unfolding imagination. To dance needs time and space.
I will be undertaking an Artist Residency at The Booth in Scalloway – December 2017, surely, I will be dancing with time and imagination.