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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am in love with wool and knitting needles. The needles have a bad press, what with their connotations of back street abortionists and the ladies of the French Revolution. It always struck me as an odd combination, knitting and guillotines. I mean it's not as though it takes a long time to chop off somebody's head. You wouldn't even get to the end of a row - talking of which, maybe I'll move to Texas so I can knit stuff for people on death row.
I can't knit really but I don't let this stand in my way. If you find lovely yarn you can make anything look nice. This scarf is keeping the poor cold goddess warm and decent. I am so proud of it it's truly pathetic.
8:49 AM   0 comments

guerrilla garments

Has it ever happened to you that your clothes attack you or gang up on you in some way? They are like rebellious slaves, sick of being dragged on and off you whether they feel like it or not. They have subtle ways to get their own back on you: buttons pinging, zips breaking, or inching their way down to expose less than perfect underwear, seams coming apart. Shoes of course, have a whole set of strategies for causing you pain and embarrassment: laces breaking , heels catching and snapping, turning you into a lopsided being, the backs of your feet rubbed raw so you are an ugly sister, dripping blood as you hobble sadly home.

From the age of five when my skirt button popped and the whole garment dropped to my knees in the playground (oh the scornful laughter) to the incident at the bus stop as a student (last night’s knickers sliding out of a trouser leg), it’s an ongoing. Last week my coat tried to strangle me. It’s a military style khaki coat with epaulettes and everything so probably has a violent streak. I’d had it cleaned and was dashing to a poetry masterclass in Newcastle. Walking up Percy Street I realised there was some kind of creeping thing going on: the coat had moved up to my waist and was tightening around me. Couldn’t work it out. Decided that maybe something in the chemicals of the cleaning process had shrunk the lining and the motion of walking was somehow causing this effect. It was so serious and awful that I dashed into a charity shop and bought another coat for a fiver. This coat – plain, beige, boring – was like the loner people speak of thus: he seemed so ordinary! He kept himself to himself! I put it straight on, stuffed the offending original in a bag and hurried on. After about five minutes, this one had effected a strange sideways movement so that the front buttons were now at the side.and my thighs so constricted I was walking like a woman in a very tight skirt. I had to unbutton it and let it flap behind me derisively.

Sinister. They are both in the cupboard under the stairs, probably plotting a fresh assault. Of course, it could all be down to the size of my arse ..

8:45 AM   0 comments

if only i could sew

I think if I could sew or paint I wouldn’t write a thing.

I used to draw and paint a lot as a child but school put me off. Sewing was also a nightmare. I never finished my apron in Miss Whittaker’s class, although I made lots of strange garments for my dolls. I always hated to see a naked doll. Their cold plastic limbs made me anxious. Action man has helped me through that and a few other traumas from childhood.

I love material: silk, satin, cotton, wool - any textile you care to name – buttons, bits of lace, ribbon - collect and hoard them in big clumsy trunks like a mad woman, get them out and stroke them like pets. Sometimes I just arrange them on my bed like the old lady at the Bates Motel.

A while ago, I ran a class with two textile artists –Margaret Williams and Cath Walshaw and fell in love with the idea of combining textiles with words – this is still something I’m really interested in. Would love to produce poetry books which looked like this

This is what I did to part of a poem from the new book, called Star gazing.

8:39 AM   0 comments