Thursday, 27 August 2015

Protest banner workshop #1: aka Helen's austerity sweatshop and partytime

Me again, you cannot get rid of me.

Just wanted to ramble on a bit about the first workshop we did on Monday night at the Castle in Manchester city centre. It was great to meet new people, all of whom share my intense dislike for the Tories and their cruel and useless austerity measures, AND a passion for craft and making! Awesome. I've made friends.

Here are a few photos from the evening.

all the wool.

Here is Molly learning to knit for the very first time. She mastered casting on and the knit stitch in under an hour, and informs me that her first square doubles as a cat cape. Versatile.

Ames and Kelly riding the crochet train

Louella, Jo and Beth

smashin the system, needlecraft style.

Kelly learning to make granny squares

Kelly's first square plus stoic Eastwood style pose

dem squers

Okay so that was fun and rewarding, and we now have a bit of banner. Here is it:

I'm aware that the letters look a bit rubbish at the moment but that will be rectified and they will be MEGA legible, so don't fret. I wanted to get a word finished by the weekend, so I'm on a square-collecting mission, do you have any?

There will be another workshop this Monday, despite it being a bank holiday, because we are THAT DEDICATED. Well, I'm not, because I foolishly am going to London and I won't be back in time, so newly qualified granny square expert, Kelly will be overseeing proceedings. I will be around the week after and every other week forever.

Thanks to all my lovely knitting and crocheting bros and sisses! I'm thrilled that this banner MIGHT ACTUALLY HAPPEN <3 p="" xx="">

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Knitted banner squares: a word about gauge

Hey pals. I'm a bit overwhelmed with the amount of support I've had so far about the knitted anti-tory banner, it's almost as if nearly everyone doesn't think they're doing a very good job?! how extraordinary.

Because this is a rather massive undertaking I have been doing a bit of panicked knitting myself and experimenting with different sized needles, so I can share some gauge-based wisdom with you now in case you want to join in (yes, please want to) :)

So far I've done a few squares with 4mm needles, a few with 5.5mm ones and a few with 8mm ones.

needles, for reference

I have worked out that to make a 10x10cm square with 4mm needles, I need to start with 20 stitches. For 5mm needles I started with 16 and for 8mm ones I started with 12. This will vary slightly depending on how tight you like to make your stitches, but since knitting is stretchy I don't mind too much if the squares are a couple of millimetres smaller or bigger than 10cm. Also, I have no idea how many rows to do. I've just been knitting away until it's 10cm long. I'm so precise and accurate about things.

l-r: 4mm needles, 5.5mm, 8mm

So the above picture illustrates the different gauges produced with different sized needles. 4mm needles will make a tighter, more rigid, thicker fabric with less gaps between stitches. 8mm needles make a loose, floppy, gappy fabric. Both are fine for this project, so do whatever you want. Bigger needles mean you finish squares quicker, and also use less yarn: which means a) you can squeeze more squares outta that yarn ball, and b) the finished banner won't be quite as heavy. I think a mixture of different gauges will look good and patchworky, so like I say: do what you want :)

Same goes for stitch pattern. I've used garter stitch mostly but you could do some stocking, moss, lace, cable, or whatever makes you feel happy.

I have made one crocheted square so far: a granny square made of double crochet stitches, four rounds, with a 4mm hook. Again, yours might be different. The only stipulation is that they are 10x10cm!

Oh yeah, the only OTHER stipulation is that all squares are red or white. I need a lot of both, so do whichever. Red can mean scarlet, crimson, vermilion, puce, magenta, maroon, burgundy or whatever reddish shade you've got lurking in that stash bag behind the couch. White obviously doesn't come in that many shades, but I will accept cream or very pale grey as I think it'll look good.

err.... can't think of anything else right now. If you are coming to the first workshop tomorrow, please bring your own needles/hook and yarn if you have them - I have a few bits but I'm scared we'll run out. Also please bring any squares you have made already! I'm delighted that so many people have expressed an interest in taking part. So we have to get this done now crafters. 

Maybe see you tomorrow, maybe not - but happy and rebellious crafting to you! you're the best xx

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Massive knitted anti-tory banner IS GO! CRAFTERS AGAINST CUTS!

so hey again my dudes. I realise that it has yet again been a million years since I posted, and I'm sure you're all gutted, but never fear, because I am about get all righteous and worthy up in here and you'll be all agitated.

have you heard of this thing called the Tory Party? yeah, they're pretty popular for some reason, but they're also rather unpopular and particularly in the North. they just keep on shafting us. it's wack.

Manchester is hosting the Conservative Party Conference from 4-8th October, and a few of us medium-full on radical lefty types are pretty angry about this (and about the party's general existence). you see since 2010, when the Tories first got into government in a pretend coalition, we've been shat on. Here are some facts about how hard they've shat on us, in case you weren't already aware:

Budget cuts in Manchester amount to £311.94 PER HEAD between 2010 and 2015. This makes up £250 million of cuts to our public services, OURS. Manchester City Council is proposing more cuts, totalling £59 million in 2015-16 and £31 million in 2016-17. This includes cutting council services to equality, drug services, youth and play, advice, home care, supported housing and city infrastructure. GREAT, I'm sure none of us were using any of that.

Here are links if you want more info, or just google 'Manchester cuts 2015' and see how fun it is! hooray!

Manchester Community Central

Manchester City Council

This is obviously on top of the twenty million other shit things they keep doing.

ANYWAY! a few of us (led into battle by the inimitable Cathy Crabb) are doing an arts intervention at the conference, setting up creative things here there and everywhere to get people involved in interesting ways, and to show the Tory bumheads that we DO NOT want them here.

So here's mine. (PS thanks for reading this far xx)

yeah that's right. DON'T.

So the idea is we knit 476 squares which will make up a 7 metre-long banner which says 'DON'T STITCH US UP!' slightly cheesy slogan but better than all the others we came up with (thanks to everyone who 'helped')

This is a slightly ambitious undertaking given that the conference is in like 6 weeks, so I NEED YOUR HELP, crafters! Come to a workshop at the Castle Hotel on Oldham Street in Manchester, every Monday 6-9pm starting next week. If you can't come, I'd still appreciate the help. Give your squares to someone who knows me or email me and I'll tell you where to post them.

This is what I needs:

  • Knitted or crocheted squares. Red or white (any shade). Any stitch pattern and yarn weight you can lay your grubby hands on. The only thing that matters is that they are 10x10cm.
  • If you can use your own yarn stash or buy some cheapo yarn that'd be fab. I have a bit but I don't have a lot of money. Ditto needles.
  • Oh! So a 10cm square knitted patch is roughly 20 stitches on 4mm needles using DK wool. Play around to suit. I am not that bothered about intricate beauty here but use your creative genius as you see fit. You can do lace or intarsia or what-have-you. But I need like a million squares, so it's quantity over quality (like all my other artwork, HA)
  • I need 331 red squares and 145 white. But don't worry about that at the moment, just make whichever your beautiful heart desires.
Okay think that's everything. Oh there's a catch-up meeting, upstairs in the Castle tomorrow at 7pm if you want to come meet everyone, but no worries if not! email me and join in the fun! Show 'em what a fucking Northern Powerhouse really is! YEAH 

love you xx