My Mother, Myself quilt

I have been dropping hints and sneaks of this quilt for a while now but on Wednesday I finally finished the binding. I like to kid myself that the reason it had been hanging around for so long was because I was using it as a teaching aid to show a few people how to bind quilts. While it did do this the truth is I have been too busy to finish it and when I have sat down in front of the tv to bind it I have very promptly fallen asleep. Several people have fallen victim to it's 'stabby-ness' from where I had pinned but not sewn edge and was just using it anyway - a habit BS is infuriated by!

 I've been longing for something a bit chevron for a while. They seem to be very on trend in the states at the moment and I had considered getting these sheets from Urban Outfitters shipped for the US to sate my desire but at a total including shipping and taxes of $200 I thought 'I can make a quilt cheaper than that!' and so I did (though the sheets are still calling to me like a siren).

I backed it with a vintage turquoise sheet that has been knocking around my stash for a while, it is all soft and worn from years of use which makes the quilt super snuggly already. Here is where it is living. It got its inaugural cuddle last night courtesy of my friend Laura.

And why is it My Mother Myself quilt? Just because as I was sewing up the chevrons they looked very like this book which sits on our shelves!

Things are quiet on here at the moment as there is a lot going on in my real life that is too personal and not really appropriate to talk about here, but I hope to keep dropping in with crafty updates as and when I can.


Of Course I'm a Feminist

This post has been brewing in my mind for a few weeks now, it started one morning over a lovely metropolitan breakfast and has ended with a sign on a noticeboard.

On Sunday I was accused of being a feminist. Why was I accused? Well I am not foolish enough to start bad mouthing my employer on the internet but there was a thing, it made me feel uncomfortable, I objected. What happened next? I was accused of being a feminist. Accused. Now before you start throwing copies of The Female Eunuch and How to Be a Woman at me let me clarify I am 100% feminist through and through*. I was brought up to believe that equality is important and relevant in my life. I don't think the fact that we have the vote and jobs means that the fight for equality is over. It isn't. If you're not sure of this follow @everydaysexism on twitter for a day and you'll see exactly how much there is still left to be done. So why then am I annoyed to be called a feminist. Well I'm not. It was the fact that I was accused of such and that the rest of the sentence involved the words 'get all militant' that really got me riled and has left me seething for days now. A friend and I discussed the etiquette of 'coming out' on your blog as a feminist, and trying to figure out what we had to add to the debate. Today I am finally taking the plunge and adding feminist debate to my list of things I will talk about on my blog.

Traditionally female crafts are at the root of my practice as an artist and as a crafter. I haven't got this far in my creative journey without having to think about the way these two ideals - traditional female pastimes (which could be argued were used as a way of subjugating women) vs my core feminist beliefs - make me question if my participating in a traditional role of femininity perpetuates a patriarchy I disagree with. I have even had this debate with my mother who watched in horror as I sat knitting a pair of socks for my husband one day, lamenting my betrayal of the feminist sisterhood. For me this conversation does belong on craft blogs, and does belong on a blog about my student experiences. It is a debate I find myself having almost every week with someone or other, intellectually stimulating, challenging debates about the nature of what I spend my days doing and the beliefs that I hold. From now on you can expect a little more discourse on this blog, some of it will be academic and based on the things I am reading or the discussions I am having, some of it will be frustration at the inherent sexism which sadly seems to be on the rise not on the decline, some of it will be anecdotes of sexism in action in 2012 - probably including the famous seminar where I had a 20 minute fight with my cultural studies lecturer who felt that feminism was 'a discussion that just isn't relevant any more' and later illustrated his argument by uttering the words 'boys don't knit in the same way girls don't drive ambulances'.**

I don't think any of you will be surprised or offended by this new addition to my blog and if you are brilliant - leave a comment and we can have a discussion about it! So here I am out of the feminist closet, off to sit in a pub, drinking wine, eating curly fries and knitting some socks.

*If you are unsure if you are a feminist I encourage you to use Caitlin Moran's handy check list taken from How To Be a Woman:

“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, 'Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don't know! I still don't know what it is! I'm too knackered and confused to work it out. That curtain pole really still isn't up! I don't have time to work out if I am a women's libber! There seems to be a lot to it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?'
I understand. 
So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.” 

**I did of course win this argument by getting a first on the essay in question!


Circle of (college) Life

Do you have this song in your head now? Yeah, me too. Bloody Elton John.

Anyway, earworms aside I have spent most of this week at college falling in love with my new studio space. It has taken me a while but I am finally getting there. On Tuesday I was sat in said space drawing when the album on my MP3 player came to an end. It just so happened at that exact moment I heard someone saying my name in a group tutorial going on on the other side of the partition. I have a fairly unusual name, I am certainly the only Penny on my course at the moment so my ego got the better of me and I found myself listening in. It was a 3DSP tutorial a module I had done (surprisingly) well in last year and it was really nice to slip vicariously back into the same conversations and issues we went through. I heard the joy in someone's voice that they had finally found their thing. It was the sound of relief and inspiration mixed together in a heady mix. I heard the frustration that others had that they had to keep coming out of the workshop to do other things (for which read: less fun thingslike go to tutorials and write essays. I heard a tutor give the same advice he gave me last year and listened to the same mental penny dropping as it all made sense.

It was comforting and reassuring. Last year I saw 3rd years being frustrated and overwhelmed and inspired and ecstatic and surprised and heard them use the phrase "I wish I was back in 2nd year" and not believe them. And now I am there. I am them. I have in fact used the "I wish.." sentence at least 3 times a week so far this term.

And that is it. It is circle. There is nothing insurmountable about 3rd year, even though it feels a bit like that at the moment. Last year's graduates got through it and made beautiful and inspiring things and so can we.

Don't worry this optimism wont last for long. I'll be back to cursing the world and bemoaning how hard it all is next week but for right now I am enjoying the comfort.


The trouble with 3rd year blogging

Six weeks. I am six weeks into my final year at college and there have been exactly 2 posts where I even mention college. Now as a blog which is meant to be looking at the ups and downs of being a student you will be forgiven for thinking that I have a) been crushed under a pile of books for my dissertation and I can't get free or send for help like 127 hours but with more cups of tea and art theory b) I have decided to run back to admin after the enormity of 3rd year has finally sunk in or c) I am just too busy living a semi metropolitan lifestyle dashing from exciting social engagement to interesting yet stimulating work. Sadly it is d)a less extreme mix of a,b and c with a bit of other thrown in, and it is the other that is the focus of today's post. 

Last year I had quite a few long and interesting conversations with Greg of DunnRoaming about blogging and the problems of over sharing. Now he didn't mean over sharing in the sense of being too confessional, no he was more concerned about 3rd students giving away all their creative secrets. Yes, industrial espionage, or at least protecting your creative intellectual property. Case in point would be Ben from Ben's Bowls a 2012 graduate who was doing innovative and interesting things in combining wood and resin in turned bowls. I was lucky enough to be included in a group exhibition with Ben and other graduates last year so I learnt all about how he made these beautiful pieces. I could tell you about the tools used and the way he turned them but that is his intellectual property. That process is something he designed to create these beautiful objects and if he had been posting details of his work and process all over a blog along the way other people would probably have given it a go and his product would have been diluted. 

I know that this sort of discussion can get the hackles of readers rising. I love learning skills from blogs and learning about people's creative process and I am not saying that I should hide away in a workshop for a year to protect my precious ideas (if nothing else it feels a bit arrogant to think my ideas need such protection) but it is something that I have been thinking about which has held me back from writing about my current college work. I loved sharing with you my Final Piece nightmare of last year but I was very aware that the big reveal was an important part of the things I was making. I wanted to share parts of the the process and the ideas I was looking at but I wanted the impact of a grand d├ębut. 

My degree is leading up to showing at New Designers in London and if I spend the next year blogging about all the pieces I am making and the processes I am using then will I rock up and find someone has taken those ideas and used them for themselves? I know this seems like a highly unlikely thing but having read this article a few years ago it is a possibility which continues to worry me. So where does this leave me?  I enjoy writing this blog and the positive reaction I get to it. The majority of my time for the next year is going to be taken up with designing and making, or writing my dissertation and I want to write about the things I am finding so inspiring and exciting but I am going to have to keep some of them on the vague side. Essentially this is my letter of explanation if you find yourself wishing that I wasn't taking quite so many super close up pictures of my pieces, or if I could just explain what I mean by exciting 'new printing process today!' please forgive my vagueness and I promise you will be rewarded with a big reveal.

If you are interested about details email me and I'm sure I'd love to talk to you about them.


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