Wool Against Weapons Day

Wool Against Weapons Day, Aldermaston

One of those days you really don’t know what to expect, after all the knitting and the excitement online, I packed myself, the 9 month old Tiny Overlord and an ample load of picnic provisions in to the van and we headed in to the West Berkshire countryside. And to Aldermaston and Burghfield, home of the UK’s atomic weapons development centres.

I’ve always been rather in awe of this diverse little county’s legacy of peace protest (you must visit the Greenham Peace Garden near Newbury) and daydreamed of crafty projects decorating the high militarised fences of AWE Aldermaston, in the spirit of the Greenham Common women. So, despite not really knitting anything since childhood, I jumped at the chance of getting involved in making a piece of the ambitious Wool Against Weapons seven mile peace scarf, to link AWE Aldermaston with AWE Burghfield. Having sent my piece to the wonderful Jaine Rose, I wondered if it would be a suitable protest to take the kiddo to. One way to find out…

Rolls of Pink Knitting

We parked and headed to the purple milestone, a meeting point for protesters from Berkshire, Hampshire and the South of England, and were confronted with the site of these huge pinwheels of reams of knitting – the picture above is one mile of beautiful hand knitted and stitched with love peace scarf. The little guy and I were made very welcome and those without babies in tow started to roll out and stitch together the beautiful pieces along the road from Aldermaston to Burghfield.

Peace Scarf on the road between Aldermaston and Burghfield

While the scarf was joined in to one peace, people happily chatted about the issues of the day – nuclear proliferation, military expenditure in a time of austerity and, most importantly, peace. Huge thanks to the lovely guy who played Twinkle Twinkle on his accordion to entertain the little guy. When the scarf was joined in to one seven mile long piece at 1pm, we all stood and rang bells to celebrate peace for five minutes and then stood silently (well nearly all of us, it is difficult to tell a nine month old to be silent) in respect of Nagaski Day  and in memory of all those who had lost their lives to nuclear weapons.

We headed home, but not before we drove the length of the scarf route from Aldermaston to Burghfield. Beeping the van’s horn at everyone gathered round each milestone. It was quite overwhelming to see the sheer extent of it, in some places so much had been knitted it took up both sides of the road. And to think that each metre of those seven miles had been knitted with love, by someone that believed in something better. One of the most beautiful things about craft based activism is that it engages people that wouldn’t go to a traditional protest. It gives people all over the world, from all walks of life, a voice they might not otherwise have. It gets people involved in issues from an angle they might not gave previously considered and gives them time to think and reflect. Just a wonderful and inspiring day. I’m so pleased we went.

Obviously, there was little chance of me ever finding it in situ, but this wouldn’t be a crafty blog if I didn’t share what I had knitted. Made from wool from charity shops and rather imperfectly: here is my little piece of peace.

My piece of Peace

If you want to know more about Wool Against Weapons, my first post is here and there are lots of updates on their website.

 

Wool Against Weapons

Recently I have been overcome with an increasing sense of urgency. Not to do small stuff, like pair up socks or weed the garden, but to do big stuff, like find world peace. Or eradicate weapons of mass destruction. Things that are easily achievable while the baby is having a nap. Ahem.

But something does boil, deep within. We often walk up the slopes of the Thames Valley to my local park where, on an admittedly rare clear day, you can see AWE Burghfield. One of the UK’s atomic weapon establishments. The second, AWE Aldermaston, is located a mere seven miles away. Like find this a difficult concept to get my head around, that WMDs are developed here on our doorstep. And it’s not just infuriating on a global justice level, I can’t understand how we can live in a country where millions of public money is spent on new nuclear weapons, yet services like our local children centres are frequently facing cuts. It boils inside me. Repeatedly.

Fortunately our little county of Berkshire has a fine history of visual protest against nuclear arms. The women of the Greenham Common Peace Camp decorated the fences of Greenham Common Airbase. In the spirit of these protests comes Wool Against Weapons

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Exciting? No? Imagine the lush green Berkshire countryside being draped with lovingly crafted pink stitches of peace. And that’s not all, after the knitted pieces have made their stand against the atomic menace, they are going to be repurposed in to blankets for children in need of some extra warmth. Win win win.

Let’s have a think about some of the gritty, not knitty, facts – the U.K Government is going to spend over £80 billion on renewing the Trident Nuclear warhead, not only is this a WMD project, I think it is an insane amount for our national government to be spending on arms in a time of financial austerity and recession. The world has a global arms trade worth $1.74 trillion. I’m with Wool Against Weapons on this. Lets invest in people instead – lets move from a war economy to a green economy. Cut the military, address the root causes of violence, wars and terrorism. Please.

I’m not much of a knitter, but even I’m trying to make my metre. I’ve been collecting pink balls of wool from the local charity shops. Slowly, but surely, I’ve been making progress. I have about 30cm left to go. But I’m so excited to be part of this. Even while the baby sleeps I might be able make tiny steps or stitches to change the world.

Want to get involved? Check out the Wool Against weapons website here

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Hexagon

“From bees’ honeycombs to the Giant’s Causeway, hexagonal patterns are prevalent in nature due to their efficiency.” – Wikipedia

I am notorious round these parts for my unfinished craft projects, so I thought I would share some ‘work in progress’. Coincidentally, both of my current projects have a hexagonal shape in common. There is something very lovely about hexagons isn’t there? They are a very natural shape, maybe that’s why they are so appealing to the eye? Maybe I’ve just been living in Reading too long?

Hexagonal paperpieced patchworkThis is my first attempt at paperpiecing and my first attempt at patchworking anything other than curtains. So far I have learnt that little pieces are fiddly and time consuming, but I am loving the finished effect. The fabric is a mixture of vintage sheet pieces and fat quarters from the lovely Darn it and Stitch in Oxford. Hopefully, when finished it will be a cushion cover to go in the Tiny Overlord’s room. One day. Maybe.

Hexagonal knitted piecesHexagonal project in progress number 2 is of a knitted variety and are the ‘hexi-flat’ version of the pieces that make up the infamous Beekeeper’s Quilt. I started making these pieces last year, I loved them but had lost motivation to continue with them for a while. I’ve dug them out as they are a fantastic project to travel with and where I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to make enough to make an adult sized quilt, I think they would probably make a rather fabulous blanket for a small person. If I get it finished while they are still small at least. Maybe if I hang around them long enough some of that hexagonal efficiency will rub off on me?

Yarnbombing: Brentford

Not just yarnbombing, but here on Little Stitch we bring you yarnbombing spotted on the move!

These photos of yarnbombed trees on Brentford High Street come from ‘The Aussie’s’ helmet camera, after he spotted them on his bicycle commute in to Central London. You might need to tilt your screen a bit…

Yarnbombed tree on Brentford High Street

Yarnbombed tree on Brent

Aren’t they fabulous? As always, do you know who made these yarnbombs? And why? I’d really love to know.

You can check out more of the gallery of yarnbombing gallery from around the world here. And if you have spotted any mysterious yarnbombs you would like me to feature, please drop me a line – my contact details can be found here.

Happy hunting!

Yarnbombing: Oxford

Lampost Yarnbomb Oxford

Oxford is a beautiful city, all lush greens along side the flowing Thames and dreaming spires. But I’m afraid what really gets me excited is spotting a bit of renegade craft among the collegiate limestone…

floral Yarnbomb Oxford

These beautiful floral garlands decorated the fences of Radcliffe Square…

Lampost Yarnbomb Oxford

…and around the city lamppost were adorned with knitted cosies.

Lampost Yarnbomb Oxford

Do you know who made these yarnbombs? And why? I’d really love to know. But in the meantime, in an era where so much of our visual environment is dominated by adverts and multinational brands, I love seeing people put their such a pretty creative mark on their cities.

Check out more yarnbombs I have spotted on my travels here.

Yarnbombing: Moscow

a ‘yarn bombed’ street light outside Gorky Park in Moscow

I’m a rather fascinated with yarn bombing at the moment. It feels looks like fun but also a crafty bit of rebellion. As the wonderful Streetcolor Art says,  

“some think that yarnbombing is just silly and it is fun but it is also full of soul . Our cities belong to us’
 I saw quite a few of these street lights, wrapped up in little knitted coats, around Gorky Park when we went to Moscow.  They seemed really incongruous, mainly because I had a (unrealistic) vision in my head of the bureaucracy of Russia never allowing anything like this. But they were also really gorgeous against the backdrop of the snow…
This rather refined gentleman had been given a little woolen beanie to keep him warm in the freezing temperatures.

I’ve been wondering a lot about the value of yarnbombing. Some may argue that it seems rather pointless, it doesn’t have a direct message – what does covering lampost, statues, even buildings in knitting actually say to us? Or is it purely a statement, like Streetcolor Art says, about the ownership of our towns and cities? Our towns and cities are dominated with advertising and municipal statues and structures. Does yarnbombing empower people in customising their surrounds in a non-permanent and fun way? What does yarnbombing say to you?

There’s a mouse, loose, about this house

In celebration of the Craftivist Collective launching a crowdfunding scheme for their first book, I’m sharing some of my favourite personal craftivist projects. A Little Book of Craftivism is something the world needs, so please have a look. This was originally published on an old blog on the 17th August 2011:

I made these little guys after reading about the Guardian’s requests for catnip mice for cats at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

All three of our cats are rescue cats – all via the RSPCA – Daria was a single mother from a neglectful home, Headley was found as a feral kitten in a colony by some town centre bins and Monty was in an abandoned litter and reared by hand. So animal rescue is a cause close to our hearts.

I’m a pretty novice knitter but was able to make one of little guys in front of the box in an evening and it feels pretty good to make something that might make a homeless animal happy.