Knitted Codes: Jean Kirk

Madame Defarge in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens knitted into her work the names of those to be executed when the revolution began. Although this is fiction, knitting was used as a means of passing on information during the American War of Independence and both World Wars. With a series of knots, dropped stitches and pattern changes knowledge of train and troop movements was gathered and passed on

Are patterns codes?

I began to look at patterns of Ganseys worn by fishermen along the east coast of England and Scotland, also in Devon and Cornwall.

These are Gansey patterns from Whitby, Sheringham and Polperro

These Gansey patterns are all associated with place and people within this place. The code for these is the identification, both emotionally and physically, of people and place.

Can colour be a code?

Red is a colour associated with power, orange with potential danger (as in traffic lights), purple was the symbolic colour of opulence and royalty, yellow the Chinese symbol of the Emperor’s family,

Naturally dyed yarns using leaves, flowers and berries from my garden and gathered on walks around my home town during lock down last year. I used wool from Wensleydale and Cotswold sheep, also Alpaca from Somerset.

I am using the ides of pattern and colour as codes to knit a piece of work for exhibition next year.

This work is about the seasons of the year and the emotions which are evoked by them, with colour and pattern as a code for the seasons.

This is work in progress!!

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