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Yan Tan Tethera – Description of Works

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Didn’t we go quiet on this blog? There were various reasons, but it all started when we learned to Knit again at Cecil Sharp’s House, the home of the English Song and Dance Society, where Sampler Culture Clash David Littler was curating a show called Yan Tan Tethera, or which, folks, we have been part.

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I didn’t learn to knit with,
*’In through the front door,
once around the back,
out through the window,
and off jumps Jack..’rep. from *

but many folks did. Pictured here are examples of windows and doors, from the Guidebook to Knitted Meditation produced by Prick Your finger for the event.

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This is the front and back cover of the Guide book as I laid it out – so the right hand side is the front cover, left hand side the back.

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All artists in the show had the wonderful opportunity to go through the Cecil Sharp / Vaughan Williams library and learn about folk songs. I was working with Amy Leonard who runs the Dulwich Folk Choir and had produced lots of songs about textiles. Each song is packed with little images, which I thought would be convenient for people to knit as charms while listening or joining in with the choir. Here is one we all know – Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.

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Socks are a regular occurrence in folk song. Important to wear in heavy clogs, and essential for cold, damp English winters, I’m sure we used to praise the sock far more than we do now, and I even found counting songs which used images of socks to keep counting fun. Socks, as some of us know, are actually a lot of skilled time consuming work, so our MAX Alexander invented this pattern for miniature socks which you can almost spit out..

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I like horseshoes, and they are quite easy to knit as most beginner knitters when discovering a good tension, make a horse shoe shape automatically. This pattern had some more detailed horse shoe designs. I also learned that the good luck with the horse shoe facing up is because the luck falls in, but sometimes they are lucky faced down because the luck stays trapped in. Does this mean that Luck has gravity?

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I made a page with ducks and chickens because that is what I thought folk lovers would like, and how true that turned out to be – we were inundated with chickens, mostly orange, and one pink one, which turned out to be a knitted vulva, made by a lady who was heavily involved in the last folk revival, and did a lot of good for woman kind.

There were other patterns too, sheep etc, but what is it all for I hear you wonder?

All the little knitted charms were stitched onto, and continue to be stitched onto, a knitted mandala. Hanging on the stairwell at Cecil Sharp House, is an attempt at a mediaitive dancing wall hanging. All the colours were from the Knit by Numbers range of merino DK (£10/100g) – which helps many people’s work hang together in colour harmony. . There was something for everyone with this project. Children too young to knit made French Knitting in green for the foliage, and pom poms in marigold colours.. more about this later….the shop is full of customers!

 

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