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7 minutes | Aug 23, 2021
On Taking Space - A Podcast Pause
where do we begin? it's been a ~ time ~ we're collectively living through. i’m feeling a little frayed around the edges, like a piece of fabric that’s been through the wash. lately, i’ve been drawn to unraveling, literally and otherwise - unraveling things down to their fundamental parts - and i’m noticing that my relationship to close knit is in a state of transition. folks listening to, finding each other through, and enjoying the podcast has been the lifeblood of this work for me. i look forward to a future where i have rested and realigned to be able to bring you more of these conversations.if you’ve just found the close knit podcast, i’d love to gently nudge you to check out the archives, and if you’re a long-time listener, thank you so much for being here. you can always reach me at hello [at] closeknit.com.au (until I amend my domain name, at which point I’ll update that here :)) until next we meet, with deep & tender care,your ani
65 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
EPISODE 65 :: Damien Ajavon
In episode 65 of the Close Knit podcast, I speak to Damien Ajavon. Based in Oslo, Damien Ajavon is a queer textile artist, born in France, of Senegalese and Togolese origin. Their work explores the different methods in which textiles fibres can be manipulated by hand: knotted, braided, tangled, and woven. The interaction between visual and tactile experiences has always played an important role in their process; they use their African and western influences as a vehicle for their textile storytelling and as visual markers of their creative approaches. It is through textile languages rather than oral ones that Ajavon has been unearthing and weaving connections with their ancestry.They have accumulated substantial experience internationally that honed their expertise and technique. They learnt to weave hemp, dye cashmere in Italy and work with feathers (Bevagna, Sant’Anatolia DI Narco, Florence), felting hats and making accessories in Quebec, pattern making and knitwear in New York City.Ajavon grounds their practice by positioning themselves in the world through their heritage. In doing so, they put into practice their mother’s teachings of African cultures and conjures artistic gestures in honor of intergenerational learning.This conversation felt just so special to me - at a time when I have felt particularly unmoored (after getting off of instagram), it was so heartening to connect with Damien over our mutual love of fiber. Their work is so beautiful - anchored in physical movement and a wonderful sense of curiosity about how fibers can be manipulated and transformed. I loved hearing their perspective on textile construction, design, and working with human-aided machinery.We discuss the ways the “craft” is often separated from “fine arts”, and how imperative we feel it is that that viewpoint is shifted. Damien blows my absolute mind when they tell me about their friend’s work with nuno felting, and we share our perspectives of reverence for every craftsperson out there. We wrap up by discussing Damien’s next steps - a residency in Berlin and a master’s program in Oslo, and we realize our mutual love of socks. We delight in discussing the opportunity Damien has to explore their textile language through their studies - to move beyond 2D technical construction into a realm of expressing their perspective and history through their work. Finally, we talk about the protection inherent in fiber work - both from the elements, and just the harshness of the world - we revel in the protection that textiles bring to those who make and wear them.
54 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
EPISODE 64 :: Sharifah Emalia Al-Gadrie
In episode 64 of the Close Knit podcast, I speak to Sharifah Emalia Al-Gadrie. Sharifah Emalia Al-Gadrie is a multidisciplinary artist & community development worker based in nipaluna/Hobart, lutruwita/Tasmania. Her creative practice is responsive and explores belonging and cultural heritage in contemporary Australia, drawing on intersectional feminist theory and lived experience as an Asian-Australian woman. Emalia's work is both research and process driven and is based in mediums including painting, textiles, installation and photography. She currently works for Tasmanian not-for-profit organisation, A Fairer World, managing the Hobart Human Library and Women’s Business projects.I have so deeply admired Emalia since I met her in 2017 when I lived in Hobart. She has been persistently living her values, doing incredible work in her community, and maintaining a thoughtful and critical artistic practice. I was particularly excited to catch up with her and hear about her life these past few years, she has been absolutely prolific in her artistic practice. We share stories about life over the last year and compare the ways our community spaces have been altered as a result of pandemic life. She tells me about the shows she’s been part of and in particular, we discuss a project that is especially near to her heart, Women’s Business. Women’s Business is a show that explores the culture, religion, and personal journies of Tasmanian women from migrant and refugee backgrounds through the fashion of their families.Much of Emalia’s textile work is soft and inviting on the surface, but deals with heavy subject matter - we discuss the ways in which Emalia’s use of textiles is both a response to her personal affection for textiles and their tactility and an act of political meaning. Some of her work is deeply bodily and contains references to or literal body hair, an exploration of her experience growing up on the coast of Australia as an Asian-Australian woman, being bullied for her body hair. We wrap up by discussing Emalia’s piece Sticks and Stones (pictured above) which took a critical lens to the Islamaphobia that is rampant in Australian media. This piece exemplifies Emalia’s purpose with her art practice, drawing the viewer in with this soft pastel palette, and asking them to consider something they might shy away from. She hopes to engage her audience in these difficult conversations, even if just for a moment, or even just to have them acknowledge that the thing is real and happening.
55 minutes | May 14, 2021
EPISODE 63 :: Zak Foster
In Episode 63 of the Close Knit Podcast, I spoke to Zak Foster. Raised in rural North Carolina and now living in Brooklyn, New York, Zak is a self-taught textile artist whose work draws on Southern textile traditions while incorporating found fabrics and natural dyes. He practices an approach to design that is intuitive and improvisational and he is drawn to preserving the stories of quilts and specializes in memory quilts. His work has been featured in various magazines, websites, and galleries. Zak and I start off by talking about his most current work, and how he has been developing his relationship to sharing his art practice through social media. He tells me about two concepts in his work that felt particularly tender to me, especially in light of the pandemic, his memory quilts and burial quilts. Zak has such a special way of approaching his work, primarily working with reclaimed materials - clothing he finds on the street in his neighborhood, fabrics he’s been given in his travels. He explains that he came to working with reclaimed materials first out of interest, and then from a desire to continue to pursue his joy while lessening his impact on the planet.I have long admired Zak’s work, and I’ve been so taken with all the work he’s shared, especially lately, and it was such a treat to sit down in conversation with him. Zak is such a brilliant storyteller, and I so admire his resolve around his practice - I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I loved having it!
60 minutes | Apr 2, 2021
EPISODE 62 :: Vivian Shao Chen
In Episode 62 of the Close Knit Podcast, I spoke to Vivian Shao Chen. Vivian is a potter, sewist, and knitter, and architect by profession. The order of that list changes frequently. She has been pursuing pottery for almost four years. She learned sewing from her parents when she was a child through their clothing manufacturing business. She picked sewing back up as an adult in the last 20 months or so, and now she has transitioned to drafting almost all her own garments. She taught herself to knit about two years ago as a way to keep her hands busy when she’s too tired to be in the studio. She recounts memories of her childhood in the factory her parents managed in Montreal after immigrating from Taiwan - a unique look at the manufacturing process that gave her an early understanding of garment construction. Vivian only picked garment sewing up more recently as an adult, and we talk about the ways she approaches her garment-making - from a place of form, function, and technical skill. She tells me how all of her many creative pursuits have some mix of this triad of things. We talk about how she came to knitting as a way to occupy her hands on her commutes from Philadelphia to her job in NYC at the time, and how she came to understand knitted garment-making, and how she made it her own. Vivian is a person who enjoys the technical and problem-solving elements of her creative process, a quality that has lent itself to many pattern alterations, and overall a responsiveness to garment-construction process. Much like in her pottery practice, Vivian’s aesthetic has come about as a result of making work - her forms organic, her materials natural, a reflection of her interest in light and shadow, and her affection for rustic and complex natural yarn colors. Vivian is a multi-talented creative person, and it was such a treat to hear her perspective on how all of her experiences across her various practices have come together to influence each other in what you see of her present-day practice.
69 minutes | Mar 5, 2021
EPISODE 61 :: Francisco Diaz of Cisco Sews
In Episode 61 of the Close Knit Podcast, the first episode of 2021, I spoke to Francisco Diaz of Cisco Sews. Francisco is a multidisciplinary creative craftsman with a keen visual eye. A sewing newbie focused on second-hand upcycling and material transformation. Francisco aims to be constantly trying new things, sustain imperfect sustainability and remain queer af.Francisco and I covered a ton of ground in this episode, and I loved every minute. We talked about gender expression and dressing in a way that feels (and is) safe, and how this sense of safety can be modulated by community. We discussed how our creative expression is shifted by the area around us - in Francisco’s instance, the difference in their creative expression between their time in LA and in their current home in Arizona. We discuss our perception that attitudes, in general, toward thrifting and sustainability have shifted over time and how the upcycling community has grown after the past decade or so. Francisco talks me through his approach to upcycling and how he first got into making his own garments, taking inspiration from the online fashion community, and finding ways to make his own garments through trial and error. We talk about the well-intentioned advice-giving that is widespread within the making community, and how sometimes, we just want to make the mistakes on our own and learn as we go. Francisco explains to me how they believe that social media has accelerated the learning process for many when it comes to making & upcycling, but that they themselves can also feel constricted by social media norms when it comes to expressing their identity and their making process with nuance and care. He has also at times felt pressured to sell his work, a feeling that has sometimes stripped some of the joy of making for him. (In case it’s not obvious, I related to a lot of what Francisco spoke to!) Francisco’s work is just phenomenally beautiful - I love the way he has cared for and nurtured both his dressing identity and his curiosity about garment construction and sustainability through his sewing practice. Be sure to browse Francisco’s Instagram for loads of lovely garment-making inspirations & stop by his site to read his wonderful interviews with other makers in the community!
62 minutes | Dec 18, 2020
EPISODE 60 :: Grace Rother
In Episode 60 of the Close Knit Podcast - the final episode of 2020, I spoke to Grace Rother, a lesbian quilt-maker and writer. I have long admired Grace’s practice - her way of making things accessible and her deep clarity on how she makes and shares. We talk about her quilt raffles this year, most recently culminating in her virtual quilting bee raising funds for Assata’s Daughters, an effort of more than 100 quilt-patch makers. Grace and I discuss the ways that textiles hold a softness for concepts and ideas that might feel a bit scary or out of our norm, like defunding the police and abolishing prisons. We talk about translating cozy sweater trends through DIY knitting, and how boundaries come into play when sharing online. Grace has shifted her practice over this year to change how she engages with Instagram, a shift I have been taking notice of and wondering if I might find a similar path - and we talk about how that shifting attention feels and looks for her. This is the final episode of 2020, and I feel so grateful that Grace joined me for this chat! Find Grace: Website | PatreonWant more?Subscribe: ItunesFollow along on InstagramSupport the podcast through patreon
67 minutes | Nov 12, 2020
EPISODE 59 :: Carolina Jimenez
In Episode 59 of the Close Knit Podcast, I spoke to Carolina Jimenez. carolina is a mexican-american textile artist and designer living in brooklyn. she is currently the creative director at caroline z hurley and also maintains an art practice. she makes monuments - memory signifiers, vessels into which the past is poured, molded, or reshaped (woven, unraveled, or stretched). these monuments reference the body-my body and yours-they speak to the magnificence of our daily lived experience and the monumentality of the mundane.Carolina and I cover a whole range of things you might expect in a conversation in 2020 - anxiety and learning to name it as such, voting (and the whole host of barriers that keep folks from voting or having information to vote), and learning to quiet the voice that tells you you’re “behind” in your career of life path.Carolina remembers learning to embroider as a child from her grandmother and having an overall interest in craft and keeping her hands busy. She also decided at an early age that architecture would be her path - until she took a weaving studio class in college and immediately felt its magic. She went on to study a masters program in textiles as RISD, and began working for Caroline Z Hurley, all while keeping her own textile practice going. We discuss the ways that colleges can be a source of a network, and also how we aim to practice ‘networking’ in a less extractive way than the term can imply. We both have noticed mutual aid networks growing this year and are excited by the opportunity to get involved at the local scale in our communities. Carolina and I tie up our conversation with a bit of conjecture into Instagram culture and how we might subvert the influencer culture in our own ways of sharing our process & practice. She speaks to her current studio practice and the garments she is collaborating with Nayila Wright to bring it to life.
59 minutes | Oct 9, 2020
EPISODE 58 :: Aisling Camps
In Episode 58, I spoke to Aisling Camps, Trinidadian born, mechanical engineer turned knitwear designer hustling out of Brooklyn.Aisling and I talk about her early days in NYC, working as an engineer on sustainability projects, and her desire to express more of her creativity, which led her eventually to a BFA program at FIT.We chat about her relationship to NYC and Trinidad and how her business was born on a couple of knitting machines back home in Trinidad after a visa ran out. Her work is heavily influenced by the climate and her Trinidadian background, resulting in the ephemeral and striking pieces she makes today.We discuss her in-home production and the necessity of bringing in outside help as she grows, how she built a relationship with a family in Italy to work on some of her pieces, and how beautiful that relationship is.This year, in particular, has brought new challenges and peaks for her, and talk about both the heavier moments and the lighter ones - from George Floyd’s murder to the opportunities and mentorship that has resulted from the cultural reaction to racial injustice.Aisling’s work can be found both online in her store, and in Oakland at McMullen.
83 minutes | Sep 11, 2020
EPISODE 57 :: Sonya Philip of 100 Acts of Sewing
Sonya Philip is an artist, designer and teacher. In 2012, she started a project called 100 Acts of Sewing, making dresses while documenting the process. Since then Sonya has made it her mission to convince people to sew their own clothes. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found fermenting, knitting or baking things. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family.
61 minutes | Aug 14, 2020
EPISODE 56 :: Catarina of The Olive Trees and the Moon
In Episode 56, I spoke to Catarina Seixas of The Olive Trees and the Moon. Cat is a homesteader, maker, folk herbalist and mother living in rural Portugal. She likes to spend her days exploring her local flora, photographing and creating magic. Together with her partner, they've built their house by hand and grow nourishing food.It was such a joy hosting Cat - we talked about so many of the things that she and I have bonded over and questioned aloud on Instagram - from the “fast fashion mentality” and she so aptly puts it, that permeates our expectations of production and cost, even within the fiber community, to a discussion of access to knitting and the materials it requires.We talk about knitting for others when knitting for ourselves is out of desire to make, instead of need to clothe - and how making for others means handing over some of the creative details we might otherwise do differently for the sake of ensuring the garment is loved, worn and cared for.Cat and I took a rambling wander through these thoughts together and while we didn’t have any conclusive answers to the questions we posed, I think we touched on many topics that so many of us folks in the fiber community consider throughout our time making, and it was a really special joy to host Cat on the episode. I’m grateful to have gotten to share space asking and conjecturing about these topics with her.
54 minutes | Jul 30, 2020
EPISODE 55 :: Marcee & Hubbard Jones of Housework
This is Episode 54 of the Close Knit Podcast - today I am joined by Marcee + Hubbard Jones of Housework. With an obsession for manufacturing details and a strict set of material standards, the cofounding couple of Housework bring their unconventional backgrounds in fine art and health food together to bear a meticulously curated selection of clothing and home goods with care for every detail – down to things like the dyestuffs of garments, as well as the glazes of ceramics and finishes on wooden wares.The Housework clothing catalogue is uniquely and strictly composed of truly natural fibers (no polyblends or pseudo-naturals like rayon), all undyed or naturally dyed with plants and minerals, with even commonly disregarded elements like the stitching thread being made of entirely compostable natural fibers.
59 minutes | Jul 10, 2020
EPISODE 54 :: Sarah Nsikak of La Reunion Studio
This is episode 54 of the Close Knit Podcast, and this week I spoke to Sarah Nsikak of La Reunion Studio. I was introduced to Sarah’s work through a mutual connection a few months ago and I was immediately taken with her work. She centers stories of Africa in her work, bringing to life incredible dresses and tapestries that are full of color and made entirely of remnants & scraps. Sarah speaks to the ways in which COVID19 and social movements of this year have impacted her own work, and how it’s all helped lead her to invest completely in her La Reunion.We discuss her journey from studying art therapy to moving from Oklahoma to NYC to intern for a fashion designer, to making the move to work for herself full time, during a global pandemic. She details her history upcylcing garments and how she’s worked to source remnants for this current collection, and we trade tips on how we’ve sourced materials and attempted experiments in natural dyeing.Sarah’s work is beyond inspiring, in a realm unto itself, in my humble opinion, bringing together her personal life experience and heritage in a way that is so beautifully unique.I was so delighted to speak with Sarah & I can’t wait for you to hear our chat. And if you haven’t already, you gotta go feast your eyes on her work - don’t say I didn’t warn you, it’s the most incredible.
38 minutes | Apr 26, 2020
Craft & Care - COVID19
52 minutes | Apr 3, 2020
EPISODE 53 :: Geana Sieburger of GDS Cloth Goods
This is episode 53 of the Close Knit Podcast and today I am joined by Geana Sieburger, who founded GDS in 2015. Growing up in Brazil deeply influenced her work, a place where in the 80’s, bakeries could be found every few blocks and skilled seamstresses still sewed a good portion of people’s everyday wardrobes. Community was the connection between everything, including food and fashion.With both people and environment in mind, Geana's dream is for GDS to become a meaningful part of her community through products that excite consumers into learning about how their purchasing choices impact their direct neighbors as well as people on the other side of the globe.Find Geana : Instagram | Website
49 minutes | Sep 19, 2019
EPISODE 52 :: Gina Stovall of two days off clothing - Building a Sustainable Clothing Brand On Your Days Off
You’re listening to Episode 52 of the Close Knit Podcast and this week I spoke to Gina Stovall of Two Days Off Clothing.The final guest in my series of people who are working in production, for this year at least, is Gina Stovall - an intentional minimalist living in LA, working in Climate Research and designing clothing made sustainably in LA.From my time following Gina's clothing brand and her personal instagram, I got the sense that Gina and I might have a bit in common - but talking to her took that to a whole new level. From slightly sillier details, like our mutual love of data, and the way we get a deep satisfaction of packing clothes for traveling, to more profound things - like our shared wondering about how slow fashion can exist, and how to exist in an influencer culture.Gina was just so easy to talk to - and we covered so much ground in this chat - running a business alongside a dayjob, how it is that she keeps enough time for herself for rest, and her work in climate research.Gina is very generously offering Close Knit Podcast listeners a 15% off discount! Enter the code CLOSEKNIT at checkout on twodaysoff.com.This will be the last episode of what I am very informally calling Season 1 of the Close Knit Podcast (although it has technically spanned about 3 years). Something you might notice me doing in this episode (and I have noticed myself doing it a lot of late), is asking questions about the role of the influencer/social media in general on slow fashion and the making community. I have some half-baked ideas around it all, and am finding that something like a break sounds right for me for now. Something else I've been thinking a lot about, especially a few weeks ago when I was sick in bed for about a week - is the necessity of rest.I really do love making the podcast, so it's scary to think about stopping doing that - even if I know it's temporary, but in the interest of listening to my body while it's still a whisper and less of a scream, I'm taking a pause on making the podcast to rest more. If you're supporting the podcast through patreon, your pledge will pause until we're up and running again!We'll return in the spring of 2020 with more podcast goodness, and until then, you can find me via my newsletter, on closeknit.com.au, and sometimes teaching at various spots in the bay.I'll miss making the podcast, but I'm so excited to give my body a chance to really deeply rest, and come back with even more vigor and excitement to produce more episodes with all the wonderful, thoughtful folks working in fiber in our world.
49 minutes | Sep 6, 2019
EPISODE 51 :: Sarah Danu of Danu Organic - Plant-Colored Clothes & Designing and Manufacturing Wardrobe Staples
You’re listening to Episode 51 of the Close Knit Podcast and this week I spoke to Sarah Danu of Danu Organic. You’ve probably noticed this year that I’ve focused a lot on clothing production and slow fashion in my interviews. I was thinking about this recently and I don’t know exactly why that is - it’s just been a curiosity that I’ve had, and I’ve followed it. It’s led me to so many interesting conversations with people producing clothing - from designers to makers, and I’ve learned so much about the way that people produce clothing locally - and all the steps involved in this!So that all led me to Sarah - who runs Danu Organic, a clothing line made from organic color grown cottons. Sarah tells me about her memories from childhood of sewing buttons onto a scrap of fabric, as she learned to sew, and a beautiful quilt project she and her mom undertook as she prepared for her first year of college.Sarah made a bunch of bold career decisions that led her to WOOFing and an interest in the slow food movement, which ultimately led her to seeking out solutions in slow fashion to treat our bodies, the bodies of workers, and the planet with care and respect - which led her to seeking out Fibershed in the Bay Area, and ultimately connecting to scientist and farmer, Sally Fox.Sarah walks me through her journey with production so far, how she’s had to let go of some of the traditional advice around timelines and launching products, she tells me about her vision for her line - offering clothing for masculine folks and children (!! which is exciting, if you’ve been around in the slow fashion scene for a minute!), and some upcoming natural dyeing on her garments.And Sarah is generously offering a discount code just for Close Knit Podcast listeners! Head to Danuorganic.com and use the code closeknit (all lowercase, one word) at checkout for 20% off!The Close Knit Podcast is supported by the following people (& more!) through Patreon. If you'd like to support the podcast please check out patreon! Aleksandra Alex Alicia Alison C Alison S Amanda Bee Belle Brittany Caitlin Carolina Carolyn Casey Cath Catherine Chantale Chase Elizabeth Ellen Emily B Emily P Emily T Hanna Lisa Heather James Justice Laura Lauren Lawral leah Lindsay Lyle Marta Morgan Natalie Natasha Niki Rachel Sandy Sarah B Sarah H Shelby Shelly shivani - THANK YOU SO MUCH!Find Sarah : Instagram | Website Want more? Subscribe: Itunes or Pocket Casts & now StitcherFollow along on InstagramSupport the podcast through patreonLike what you're hearing? Awesome! I'm glad you've found your way to this podcast. Please feel free to subscribe, leave a review on iTunes (this makes all the difference to reaching more people!) and share with your loved ones. Thanks for tuning in.Until next time!xxani
13 minutes | Aug 2, 2019
A Series of Short Essays on Care-Taking Through Making (Knitting is our love language)
(listen via the audio played or read the transcription below) *a quick note about diction: I use “knitting” here because it is the medium I am most familiar with, but please, substitute crochet or your preferred making medium. How & what you make with is valid. We Knit to Care For: OurselvesIf you’ve been knitting for some time, you’ve probably had well-intended friends and family members post links on your Facebook wall about the “health benefits of knitting”. This NYT piece, written in 2016, has appeared at least 4 times on my own personal wall & a handful of other times in my direct messages. And it’s true, countless studies - particularly in recent years - have shown the neurological benefits of knitting. From stress and addiction management to chronic pain, knitting is cited as a key player in recovery and healing. You only need to browse the comments section of any of these articles and it’s clear that the notion of knitting as healing is widespread. I love that my friends and family members want to help me prove that my, ostensibly sometimes obsessive, interest in knitting is valid - healthy, even! To be honest, in the case of how knitting makes me feel and whether it’s valid that I spend many hours working on it weekly, I didn’t really need scientific studies or NYT articles to back it up, though I appreciate the scientific validation. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are - at least in some small way - a maker, and you might have a sense for what I’m talking about here. It’s the feeling that you get when you cast on a new project - the sense that perhaps anything actually is possible - and I don’t mean that in a grand sort of way, just in this simultaneously humbling and inspiring way. You possess these appendages on your body that can turn what is essentially a piece of string into a functional, wearable object. And the cast on is, I think, the most potent time for this realization of possibility. As you progress and this object starts to take shape, you have visible, tangible proof that you are, indeed, very capable. There’s something to that, especially for millennials, and especially in this remarkably digital age. The ability to physically manifest cloth that is practical, warm, and beautiful feels particularly relevant when most of us work on computers, maybe even remotely, on projects that will never have a physical presence in the world. When we exist so much on the internet, these points of contact with the “real” world take on more weight. Of course, with the incredible diversity of the making community, there comes a wonderful diversity of personal experience and reasons for making, but I’d argue that this diversity is united in commonalities - the way in which we’re all navigating the human condition. We find ourselves drawn to knitting not just because it’s rad to wear something you’ve made (although it definitely is, and somehow even 10+ years into knitting, this novelty has not worn off for me), but because it’s something inherently human. We’re all making sense of our world, processing internal and external events & knitting helps us do this. In the rest of this series, I invite you to consider your relationship to knitting/making. In essay 2, I’ll look at the ways we use knitting to show our love for our friends and family, and consider the ways that we honor our familial and historical traditions through our craft. Essay 2: We Knit to Care for: Our Dearest Have you ever heard the phrase “knitting is my love language”? I assume (correct me if I’m wrong) that this is a riff off the Five Love Languages, a book about how humans express love, written by Gary Chapman in 1995. The love languages, according to Chapman, are: “receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch”. I’ve thought a lot about this (hello, hi, I’m a huge nerd about knitting and feelings, in case you can’t already tell), and while I think that the act of knitting falls into the camps of gift-giving and acts of service, I think it also deserves its own recognition, because once you’ve made something - particularly knit or crocheted something - by hand, you’ll have an appreciation for what exactly went into that.Knitting is our love language - it’s an enormous investment of resources, both materials and time. To earn a place in the heart of a knitter, to become a recipient of a knitted object, is a pretty big deal. For most of us, this looks like prioritizing knitting for our dearest - our family members, partners and chosen family. Some of us have beautiful traditions of honoring our family members and family histories with knitting & making. Once such maker is James Davis - a spinner, dyer and weaver from Colorado, who has spoken and written about his introduction to fiber art and his reason for making. James engages with fiber primarily to honor his mother’s memory and build on his family’s woven language. He openly shares his use of fiber to process the grief of his mother’s death and to continue on her legacy. Knitting objects, whether for yourself or someone you care about, is an act of devotion and dedication. As anyone who’s ever knitted anything knows, it’s often cheaper, and definitely faster, to buy something ready-made. But as makers, we know that this is not the point - there’s something much deeper to be gained by both the maker and the wearer (sometimes the same person) when we slowly and intentionally make by hand. In the next essay of this series, I’ll discuss the ways we use fiber to care for and connect with our communities and to find our place in our physical and online communities. Essay 3: We Knit to Care For: Our Communities In an age when we are increasingly isolated & disconnected from each other, knitting provides a welcome social engagement - both online and off. My firsthand experience of this came when I moved from the USA to Australia. I knew only one person - my former partner - and I am a classically extroverted introvert (you know, capable of extroversion, but generally exhausted by it). Instagram became a critical tool for me to find other knitters and make my place in this new-to-me country. These connections turned to IRL friendships and led me to the fiber arts guilds that exist in Australia. I found suddenly that I had friends spanning generations - which was the opposite of my everyday/work life, where I mingled almost exclusively with other 20-30 somethings. The guild became a deeply important part of a move I made to Tasmania, where for 2 years I attended weekly meetings of the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers’ Guild, and made some of the closest friends I have - most of whom are 30+ years my senior. It was there that I learned to spin wool for the first time, and caused a lot of scandal with my wool knit knickers during one particular show-and-tell. In addition to the ways we find our communities in-person and online, knitting plays an important role in creating dialogue amongst communities regarding socio-political and environmental issues. These projects are commonly known as “craftivism” - a term coined by Betsy Greer, and they range in size/scale and craft medium, but in general work to bring awareness within communities of important or ongoing issues. Perhaps the most recognized of these is “yarn bombing” - a method of graffiti art employing yarn in place of chalk or spray paint. Yarn bombers have created pieces with all sorts of motivations - from raising awareness of human-induced climate change (ie WARM, an installation piece created by SEAM Inc. (Sustainable Environment Arts Movement) & largely facilitated by Georgie Nicholson of Tikki Knits) to simply aiming to put a smile on your face. Jane aka Queen Babs, is a prominent yarn bomber based in Redfern, NSW. I first met Jane when she “love-bombed” me, handing me a heart she crocheted, with the message “You are loved” tied to it, offering me a hug. The more familiar I became with Jane’s work, the more I appreciated it - the way she engages her community, both her craft community and her physical neighborhood. Her dedication to encouraging warmth and acceptance in Redfern is palpable.We engage with our communities through our craft, whether we mean to (yarn bombing) or not (knitting in public). Every time we knit in public, we invite our wider communities to consider what this act means, to consider their assumptions about who knits and why. We engage with our communities in so many ways when we craft. In the next (and final) essay of this series, I’ll explore our engagement with our physical environment through knitting - in other words, the intersection of environmental sustainability & craft. Essay 4: We Knit to Care for: Our Planet Perhaps the nexus within making I find most interesting and complex is that of sustainability and craft. This piece will just scratch the surface of this topic. To date, we’ve talked about the ways we care for: ourselves, our families, and our communities through our craft, and my hope is that we’ve begun to go deeper into the “why” behind our making. My intention with this series is to invite makers to consider their relationship to making through a broadening lens, beginning with the self & ending with the biggest possible lens (at least I think, unless interstellar making is a thing and I’m just not aware of it yet?), our planet, and the impact our craft has on it. Today, I’m going to focus primarily on sustainability from an environmental perspective, though I think it is equally, if not more, pressing to consider the social/human sustainability perspective - but that’s a whole other series in itself. Every time we choose to make something with our hands, we are subverting the cultural norm of convenience and instant gratification. This, in itself, is an act of defiance of an envi
58 minutes | Jun 26, 2019
EPISODE 50 :: Mandy Kordal of Kordal Studio - Knitting on Machines & Local and International Production
You’re listening to Episode 50 of the Close Knit Podcast and this week I spoke to Mandy Kordal of Kordal Studio.Mandy is someone I have admired for so long - every singe collection she’s designed has just made me swoon, and it was such a treat to bring her onto the podcast this month.She walks me all the way back to her earliest memory of working with textiles - influenced by her grandmother and her mother, who are both talented designers and sewists.As has been my line of inquiry lately - this year, actually, I wanted to understand how Mandy went from altering and painting on her clothes as a kid to running a knitwear and now woven-ware clothing line. How her interest was piqued by a neighbor, leading her to study fashion design and taking a class in machine knitting - which informs her garment design and making presently.We discuss the subtleties of machine knitwear design, fiber sourcing, and how being a values-driven brand, as a concept, is an evolution.Mandy talks me through their partnerships with weavers and mills in Peru and Guatemala and how these relationships have evolved over the course of Kordal’s existence.Listen on for our whole chat! Thanks for tuning in!I wanted to pause for a moment to acknowledge that this is the 50th episode of the Close Knit Podcast.50 whole episodes! That just feels like a real milestone to me.And I just wanted to say thanks. Thank you for listening, and for supporting the podcast. If you’re already pledging on patreon, I so appreciate you. And if you’ve enjoyed the podcast thus far, you can support the podcast to continue to exist by pledging through patreon.Over the course of this last year, your support has helped me pay my bills, hire an editor, and offset website maintenance costs. It’s been an enormous help and it really does enable me to work on this project long term, in a sustainable way.You can find my patreon from my website, via my instagram, or by searching Close Knit on Patreon.50 freaking episodes - what a humbling joy it has been to produce this work with and for you.Your support means the world to me.
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