The morns are meeker than they were —
The nuts are getting brown —
The berry’s cheek is plumper —
The Rose is out of town.
The Maple wears a gayer scarf —
The field a scarlet gown —
Lest I should be old fashioned
I’ll put a trinket on.
October’s Full Moon Musings seems to have come around even faster than last month’s! Last week saw the Autumn Equinox and with that has come a definite change in the temperature, with much cooler mornings. Thankfully, the days are still relatively warm and bright, which means I can still cling onto the last activities of the summer.
I have been attending monthly conservation days at Hazel Hill Wood in East Grinstead, Salisbury. I love this photo that I took of Charley the ecologist and fellow volunteer Ella. We were clearing a glade in the part of the wood called the ‘Western Frontier’. It’s like the Wild West meets the Land Girls, don’t you think?!
I have got lots to share with you today, so I’ll spare you too much ponderous prose…..
First up is a fabulous cake made by friend of ANOGM Laura Redding. She recently posted on IG a wonderful picture of a blackberry cake she had made and this inspired me, as the season of blackberry harvesting is upon us. She was kind enough to share the source of her recipe with me and that can be found here. https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/baking-and-desserts/blackberry-and-yogurt-cake/
Blackberries are so evocative of the end of Summer and the start of Autumn. Thank you to Laura for sharing this with us.
During lockdown I started a project with my mum and a friend, mainly to cheer up my mum who was shielding. We knitted a shawl by the zany knitwear designer Stephen West, called the Fantastitch Shawl. It took us several months of weekly Zoom calls and many, many Whatsapp messages, but eventually we all finished and met up in a socially distanced fashion to put the three shawls together. It was huge fun, occasionally stressful, but a knit that challenged us (800 stitches per row towards the end!), improved our knitting and ultimately resulted in an heirloom item we will all treasure.
Stephen West @westknits is running his yearly Mystery Knit A Long this year and Mum and I are going to join in! If you fancy it, there is still time! Just go to http://www.stephenandpenelope.com to find out more or look up Westknits on Ravelry and more specifically the ‘MKAL slipstravaganza 2020’. (N.B there have been issues with people having migraines triggered by the new Ravelry site so if that is an issue for you I would look at the Stephen and Penelope website first). The fun starts on the 9th October when the first ‘clue’ is announced. There are four weekly clues and people all over the world are knitting it.
Stephen West is a hugely creative and charismatic designer and I really appreciate that there is no pressure to buy his wool- he really encourages people to use yarn from stash. That does not of course stop hundreds of knitters around the world buying his kits of amazing wool, so he is definitely onto something! It takes about 500g of wool and I am knitting with a combination of stash yarn, handspun yarn and a couple of new skeins of wool. I will keep you posted on my progress but do let me know if you decide to join in. By the way, I anticipate that I will take MUCH longer than 4 weeks to knit the shawl!
Part of the remit of this newsletter is for me to share people and things that inspire me. Today I am going to focus on the artist and maker Lorna Hamilton-Brown. I first found out about Lorna a couple of years ago when important conversations about racism were coming to the fore in the making community. Lorna is an artist, maker, academic and independent researcher in her own words. I am delighted that she was happy for me to feature her in this newsletter because her work is so important.
Where to start about Lorna? On her website there is a quote that she has been called the ‘Banksy of Knitting’ because she uses the medium for social commentary. I think she is better than Banksy because not only does she make her statement, she is also very much in the world and taking part actively in discussions around racism and inclusivity. She was interested in this work way before the current spotlight fell on her and is using this spotlight to ensure that change happens. And she doesn’t only knit. She hand knits, machine knits, crochets and uses pen and ink! She sees knitting as an artist’s medium, and states ‘there is power in knitting’.
Lorna has a first class honours degree in digital multi-media design from De Montfort University. She has an MA from the Royal College of Art and as part of her studies she wrote her dissertation entitled ‘Myth: Black People Don’t Knit’ for which she was awarded a distinction.
She was awarded an MBE in 2004 and has been a finalist for several awards within the creative industry. She is part of the Vogue Knitting Diversity Advisory Council and has been instrumental within BIPOC in Fiber.
And yet the road to these accolades has not been straightforward. Lorna has described how she was subject to discrimination during her earlier schooling. She was put in the ‘dunce’ class because she couldn’t spell. Art was a subject she did better at, but at A’ Level she was disqualified as the marking team alleged that her final artwork was too good and so could not be original and must have been plagiarized. Thankfully, due to personal strength and support from her family she was able to overcome these difficulties.
Recently, during lockdown, the world became aware of the tragic death of George Floyd in the US. Whilst some of us were devastated, others angry, some were demonstrating, Lorna was busy using her art to express herself. I would strongly recommend you looking at her portfolio on her website http://www.lornahamiltonbrown.com where she has put her recent works. One of these is the Harriet Tubman knitted $20 bill. Using incredibly complex machine knitting, Lorna has recreated her version of a $20 bill to highlight the death of George Floyd.
Harriet Tubman was an American Abolitionist and political activist in the late 1800s. Lorna took as the starting point the fact that a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman was due to be launched in 2020 but has now been postponed. Many fear it will not happen. George Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit note which sparked the police intervention and his subsequent death. The detail on this piece of work is amazing. The serial numbers are actually the dates of George Floyd’s birth and death. Note the clever use of ‘pending’ to indicate that we still have not got justice for George, and also that Harriet Tubman’s $20 bill is still awaited. We have the headline of ‘Black Lives Matters’ just above the ‘Disunited States of America’.
This is a large work measuring 164 x 60cm and is made from machine knitted acrylic.
This is not the only piece of work that Lorna has done recently. I hope that one day soon they will be presented in an exhibition. I am sure that Lorna will continue to make new and thought provoking work and I look forward to seeing what she does next. If you would like to support Lorna you can buy her a coffee at http://www.ko-fi.com/lhamiltonbrown
And so, we come to Yogi Kate’s musings:
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended
Not with time, as they say, but with intention
So go, love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you”
These words from L.R. Knost fell into my inbox this week at just the right moment. Knost is an author, feminist and social justice activist. She is also the founder and director of the children’s rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts / Gentle Parenting Resources.
At a time like this we need everyone to play their part, and in the context of feeling frustrated at the myriad of opinions on false positives, case numbers, and what time the pub should close, these words reminded me that my part (my dharma in yogi terms) is to continue to look after people’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. To provide a safe, gentle space where people can come back to themselves.
This week, and for the next few weeks I am giving space and time to ‘restorative yoga’ in my zoom classes. Those of you who have practiced with me on an ANOGM retreat will have experienced restorative yoga, and hopefully you enjoyed it :-). Restorative Yoga teaches us how to rest and access a deep level of relaxation in the body and in the mind – an hour of restorative yoga can help you feel as though you have been on holiday for a weekend! and who doesn’t need a bit of that right now!
So, if you’re feeling the need to rest, relax and restore, grab a bolster if you have one, and if you don’t, a couple of pillows will do the job, and get into the pose below: supported child’s pose. Spend 5 minutes with the head turned to the right, and 5 minutes with the head turned to the left. If you struggle to stay there for 5 minutes each side, download the ‘Insights Timer’ app, and set the timer!
As we head into Autumn, and into this next phase of COVID, remember the words of the Buddha; “You, as much as anyone else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
Stay safe, stay sane, stay strong
And that rounds out this month’s Full Moon Musings. Thank you so much for reading it and I hope you have enjoyed it. If the sky is clear and you get a moment in the evening then do head outdoors with a cuppa and look at the full moon. Just taking a moment to look out into the night sky can be so calming.
With love until next time,
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The reverie alone will do,
If bees are few.