April

fairisle

Enjoying learning fairisle knitting – colours, combinations, what does and doesn’t work.

Votes for women

Everyone knows about the struggle for votes for women. They know about Emily Davison throwing herself under the King’s horse; about the Pankhursts; about purple, green and white sashes; about breaking windows and setting the odd post box alight; about force feeding imprisoned suffragettes and about how it took until the end of the First World War to achieve. But even that long list is just the highlights.

I’ve just read Emeline Pankhurst’s autobiography and account of the suffrage movement (the source for this article) and I’m overwhelmingly struck by just how long and hard the struggle was.

The first attempts to get votes for women through Parliament started in the 19th century. Over many years private members bills were presented, but if they managed to get listed they got talked out or blocked. At times parliament was in favour of votes for women but on each occasion the prime minister and government crushed it before final reading was complete. Ministers against included Lloyd-George, Churchill and most notably, the prime minister Asquith. Asquith suggested on several occasions at enfranchisement being granted as an amendment but then prevented it or didn’t take it forward. This raised hopes and kept the less militant suffragists placated.

The women tried to meet ministers, present their case to parliament and petition the prime minister on behalf of the King and then the King himself. During these peaceful protests, marches, and delegations they were repeatedly beaten by the police and arrested.

MPs and ministers challenged the suffragists to demonstrate the strength of support through demonstrations  and when the demonstrations attracted hundreds of thousands, they were seen as insufficient evidence. When comparison to men fighting for the vote was made as a challenge and women broke windows, avoiding physical harm to people, they were again condemned and imprisoned.

Hundreds of women, some repeatedly, were imprisoned over time. Prison conditions were terrible – cold, poor bedding, no talking during exercise, solitary confinement for not following rules. The sentences were harsh for either no crime or minor breaches of peace or criminal damage and allowance was given for the political nature of the prisoners. The women protested in prison, they broke windows and they refused to eat. Quickly the authorities learned to force feed them using pipes forced up noses and into stomachs. Sometimes this caused liquid food to enter the lungs, often causing internal damage. Eventually the weakened women were released however the government introduced the “Cat and Mouse” Act especially targeted at the suffragists and not applied to others, which released them on License until they recovered from hunger strike and then rearrested them. Some suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst also went on “thirst strike” and “rest strike” – refusing liquids and to rest. This caused rapid and severe decline to health.

The women didn’t recognise the jurisdiction of government and courts run by men and in which women had no voice. When on temporary release and strong enough, Mrs Pankhurst evaded re-arrest and broke the conditions by attending speaking engagements. The police were frequently brutal in their attempts to arrest the women and the courts unsympathetic.

When war broke out women had not been successful and militancy ceased. It took until 1918 and a change of government for the first women to be able to vote.

This was a long hard struggle. So many women and men fought, suffered and died to make it happen. This is why your vote is precious.

Crafty 2016

Its so easy to lose track of what you’ve done over the last year. I found this last January when I blogged about that I’d read in 2015. It was difficult to remember all my reads. I resolved to keep a list of books and have kept it through 2016. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually had read and now I’m able to blog about all those good or not so good reads. That’s subject for another day but today I’ve been casting my mind back to my craft projects of 2016.

I don’t have a list, but at least I’ve a photographic record of lots of them! So, here are a few reminders of projects from last year. Some you’ve seen, some new…

Knitting

I finished fingerless mits made with hand spun yarn, a baby jacket and at the end of the year made myself a cosy cowl – another stash buster!

Spinning

I finally finished spinning some soft, but previously very dirty jacob, completed a four colour shetland yarn and at the end of the year spun some lovely soft, probably merino, multi-coloured top. I love its soft mossy green with hints of red.

Sewing

For me, sewing means many things. Often I use a range of materials, a mixture of textures, machine and hand stitching and embellishments of beads, shells etc. This year I managed to finish some WIPs that had been hanging around for ages, which was very satisfying but also knocked up a quick and effective flipped and stitched picture…

Crochet

I don’t really consider myself a crocheter but I’ve completed a few crochet projects in 2016. You’ve seen the rock pool cushion and experiment before but not quick Christmas decoration or the blanket which has played a big part of my crafty year. I really like it and it was very satisfying. Nearly all the yarn in these projects has been up-cycled and/or gifted and its been a good stash busting year!

And more…

And still there are a few more bits and pieces including a woven cardboard basket, the ever WIP quilt, a fun Lutrador and Xpandaprint experiment (still a WIP), a lesson in tunisian crochet (I really must revisit it) and shibori indigo dyeing.

And now for 2017…!

Going freeform

I’ve just finished my latest crochet project. But, this time its a bit different.

Our craft group recently had a class led by a lovely spinner, crocheter, felter and multi-talented lady. She inspired us to learn freeform crochet and it was great fun. Basically, anything goes.

Typically, I was determined to finish off such an interesting project and though it has taken a few months, its finally done. Well, the freeform part anyway!

I loved the way with freeform crochet anything goes. I combined lots of different shapes (stars, spirals, blocks), stitches (bullion(!), trebles, doubles) and then went really off piste and combined patches of knitting and felting.

rockpool-starfish

I was up-cycling old tapestry yarns and the colours were rather random but I kept bright colours for sea creatures, and greens and blues for the water/background.

rockpool-water

It kept on growing like an amorphous mass so I eventually took a tip from our tutor/inspirer and made a template, stuck to it and filled in the gaps.

Ultimately, it may be a cushion, but for now, I’m really pleased with my rock pool!

rockpool-crochet