Stay-at-home solidarity socks.

Around August 2018 I started making a new piece of work, the Ambit project, for Neither Use Nor Ornament (NUNO), which I have written about previously on this blog. The project involved several walks during which I would knit the object, a representation of the white road, in woollen sock yarn. This was a fairly epic undertaking; the finished object was almost 488 inches long (nearly 40ft) by 7 inches wide and knit on 4mm needles. The knitting took around 6 months to complete.

For many reasons, this project never achieved it's intended outcomes. Some planned walks never happened, others had to be abandoned or routes changed. The work itself was as I planned it, but didn't work in the allotted space, my fault for not physically scoping out the space before committing to the design.

On the other hand, other parts of the project were great; I really enjoyed being part of the cohort of artists that were involved and got to work quite closely with NUNO curator and artist Sonia Boue which was a treat. And it's always fun to make work and have people come and look at it, even if you wish you'd made something different. Then, once the exhibition ended, the work was packed up and returned to me and has sat, unregarded, in a drawer.

In January this year, the world became aware of a new strain of coronavirus. Just two months later and here we are, our countries in various states of lockdown, our lives turned upside down. I'm one of many people whose livelihood has dried up, although my husband is still employed so we are lucky. It does mean not buying anything that is not absolutely essential for the foreseeable future though. We also have a secure home and a garden I grow food in, so we are generally in a very, very fortunate place compared to many.

Despite my good fortune, I am sad that I am not going to be doing some of the walks I had planned this year, including a couple of day pilgrimages I was hoping to guide, and I'm not going to be buying any yarn, to fulfil my almost obsessive need to knit, either. And then I remembered the NUNO project...15 feet of pristine woollen sock yarn sitting in a drawer doing nothing!

Skeining the yarn ready for dyeing
So, while I am joining you all in stay-at-home solidarity, I am using the time to unpick Ambit and re-knit it as actual socks, dreaming of the day when we are free of this virus and able to tramp once again across our beautiful landscapes. I'm thinking I might design myself some sock patterns that remind me of some of the wonderful walks I did last year, including the ones completed, or attempted, for Ambit. As I sit and knit I'll remember those adventures and probably start planning new ones and even though my body might be at home, my mind will be wandering over distant hills.


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