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Selvedge Magazine | Issue 98

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January / February 2020

WORDS BY Polly Leonard | Founder Selvedge Magazine

"If you have ever taken out your knitting on a train you will have first-hand experience of the magnetic pull of a ball of wool. There is something about knitting in public that attracts people; their curiosity overwhelms them and before you know it a conversation has connected you.  As we have learned over the last year textile making can be a wonderful solo occupation, calming and almost meditative and as ‘revealed’ in a survey sponsored by Fitbit, knitting lowers the heart rate more than any other hobby. But it is the connection textiles have to the community that we are concentrating on in this issue. The relative low cost and simplicity of the equipment and materials needed for textile work make them an ideal catalyst for group projects; everything from a quilting bee to the ambitious furnishing of the iconic Timberline Lodge undertaken by Margery Hioffman Smith and a team of untrained volunteers during the great depression in 1930s America.

We see the textiles at the heart of lively communities around the world from the Icelandic Réttir to the tentmakers in Sharia al-Khayamiya, Cairo. When communities are isolated we see the level of sophistication increases exponentially, for example in the weft faced back strap weaving practised by the Q’ero in Peru and in the namesake knitting produced in Fair Isle. Textiles work is an ideal medium for cooperative activity as Aïssata Namoko explains in our article Out of a Clear Blue Sky. Many members of her Djiguiyaso Cooperative in Bamako, Mali work from home fitting textile work around their domestic responsibilities - we all know what that feels like. This brings me to the Selvedge Winter of Making. We are working hard to support our community throughout this difficult time by hosting zoom workshops to connect our readers through a shared love of textiles. I would love to see your projects posted on our chatroom (accessed through the Selvedge website, under the ‘community’ tab) to encourage others to experience the stress-busting magic of making."


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