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A couple of years ago I nearly killed myself having allergic reaction to the wool fibres of the ww2 army greatcoat I was cleaning up ready to work on for “Colonize”. I dived in, brushing up the dust and loose fibres, inhaling….. Then wondered why within fifteen minutes I was coughing, couldn’t see through swollen eyelids and my face itched so badly I wanted to peel it off…

I am an artist who works with textiles, how can I possibly forget that I have a wool allergy? Bloody stupid!

So… Wind on a couple of years….
In my previous post I described and photographed the little hand knitted doll’s vest. I have decided to work out the pattern and make some more.  I headed off to the haberdashers of the Black Country in search of a matching ball of wool. Yes. You heard me. Wool.
In the evening, I knitted one and a half vests, I adjusted the pattern as I went along. Then I had to stop, because I stopped being able to focus because my eyes were watering… Ffs! How stupid can I be? I am an artist who works with textiles. How difficult can it be to remember that one single fact? I stood in the shop telling the assistant that it had to be wool or a wool blend, and definitely not acrylic! Thing is if I just take the simple precaution of tying a cotton scarf around my face like a cowboy, and take an antihistamine BEFORE I start, I’m fine!

But I was right, it did have to be wool.

Now, the morning after as I finish this post with still puffy eyes I’m wondering why it couldn’t be acrylic? There was one ball there that was a good colour match… And no one would know unless I let them touch them (and they knew about these things)…

There it is… That’s the thing: touch.
Wool feels like wool as I knit it. Some of you out there will know what a hand knitted wool vest feels like next to your skin. To me as a child it was a torture… The itching that occurred especially if I got hot. As I got older it got worse and my mother realised that it wasn’t just me moaning, you can’t fake the rash! So of course it has to be wool. It is about the touch and the relationship. So today as I begin to knit with my scarf round my face and after setting the alarm on my phone, those will be where my thoughts stray.

Oh yes… The alarm… I didn’t tell you about that did I?

I love knitting and go at it like a mad woman in an attic as if there was  some sort of bearded fellow turning it to gold or something….. Anyway…. After the episode when I stitched myself into needing medical intervention and six weeks off work for tenosinivitis, I have to limit my time at knitting….

(I’ve decided I need a lot of these little vests… Let me know if you’re up for a bit of voluntary participation and I’ll send you the wool and a pattern!)

I just hope it’s worth it. Because at the moment I don’t really know why I’m doing it.


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