Are you looking forward to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival? My plans were slightly scuppered this week when I was laid low by the lurgy. So, no handmade dresses for me but I shall dance around EYF nonetheless (hopefully without coughing). I thought I'd share some links with you.
+ Mark My Words: The Subversive History of Women Using Thread as Ink. A chilling, important read about how women have used textiles to communicate.
"..a rich tradition of women stitching words onto clothes, turning to thread and fabric in place of ink and paper. The reason behind this practice is obvious: Embroidery, needlework and darning were traditionally a female domain. That's why we have the word "needlewoman" and not "needleman." Much has already been made of the power to play with that heritage. Throughout modern history, plenty of artists have reclaimed this craft, which was once overlooked and consigned to the realms of the domestic."
"..As late as the 1970s, textiles still enjoyed the aura of science. Since then, however, we’ve stopped thinking of them as a technical achievement. In today’s popular imagination, fabric entirely belongs to the frivolous world of fashion. Even in the pages of Vogue, ‘wearable technology’ means electronic gadgets awkwardly tricked out as accessories, not the soft stuff you wear against your skin – no matter how much brainpower went into producing it. When we imagine economic progress, we no longer think about cloth, or even the machines that make it.
This cultural amnesia has multiple causes. The rise of computers and software as the very definition of ‘high technology’ eclipsed other industries. Intense global competition drove down prices of fibres and fabric, making textiles and apparel a less noticeable part of household budgets, and turning textile makers into unglamorous, commodity businesses. Environmental campaigns made synthetic a synonym for toxic. And for the first time in human history, generations of women across the developed world grew up without learning the needle arts.
As understandable as it might be, forgetting about textiles sacrifices an important part of our cultural heritage. It cuts us off from essential aspects of the human past, including the lives and work of women."
And I know that this one has been doing the rounds, but it is still wonderful (and I have Viking blood in my veins, so that makes me even more happy).
"..All that wool! It took land and farming skills to raise the sheep that supplied the wool, and a support network of (mostly) women whose spindles and looms produced the cloth. Textile archaeologist Jørgensen says the introduction of sails must have greatly increased the demand for wool and grazing land. Norway-based historical textile researcher Amy Lightfoot has even speculated that the demand for pastureland might have driven the Viking expansion as much as the gleaming temptations of stolen treasure and legitimate trade. Clearly the classic image of wild-haired Viking warriors isn’t the whole story."
Enjoy your reading. I am off to snuggle up in bed underneath blankets with some comforting garter stitch. I'll see you at EYF or beyond.