Workshops and community events

Protest Knits workshop, Ditchling Museum, 29th September 2018

One of the activities will be knitting and embroidering a protest badge similar to this one. 1534615289626

(Instructions to students who will be facilitating the workshop.

In preparation for the workshop you will need to prepare the following materials.

Knitted badge circles
Badge shapes cut-out in firm cardboard, these should be 10cm (3″) in diameter – I used panels from a strong cardboard box.

Please can each of you knit at least two badge circles, either by machine or hand, in any colour you like, and cut out up to 10 badge shapes.

I have included a knitting chart for the badge circles, shown below, but please use the written instructions as well, or if you prefer these. If you really can’t manage to knit circles, then squares of the correct stitches and rows will do.)

Written instructions for knitting a circle to make a 10cm badge


Double knit yarn (DK) in your choice of colour and fibre (my examples are in acrylic yarn)

A pair of 4mm needles

Stitch count: 10cm sq of stocking stitch = 24stsx30rows

(There is no need to knit a tension swatch for this project as long as your stitches are not too loose, as the finished size can be approximate)

The knitting is worked from the wrong side (WS)


Cast on 8 sts

Row 1: Purl

Row 2: cast on 2 stitches (use the cable cast on for this and all the following cast ons ), knit to end (10)

Row 3: cast on 2 stitches, purl to end (12)

Row 4: cast on 2 stitches, knit to end (14)

Row 5: cast on 2 stitches, purl to end (16)

Row 6: k1, m1, k14, m1, k1 (18)

Row 7: purl

Row 8: k1, m1, k16, m1, k1 (20)

Row 9: purl

Row 10: k1, m1, k18, m1, k1 (22)

Row 11: purl

Row 12: k1, m1, k20, m1, k1 (24)

Row 13-19: starting with a purl row, work as stocking stitch, ending on a purl row

Row 20: k1, skpsso (a decrease of one stitch made by slipping one stitch, knit the next one, and then passing the slipped stitch back over the knitted one), k20, k2tog, k1 (22)

Row 21: purl

Row 22: k1, skpsso, k to 3 from end, k2tog, k1 (20)

Row 23: purl

Row 24: k1, skpsso, k to 3 from end, k2tog, k1 (18)

Row 25: purl

Row 26: k1, skpsso, k to 3 from end, k2tog, k1 (16)

In the following bind offs, if you want to create a smooth curve, on the first bound of stitch only slip the first stitch, (as indicated with a V on the chart), and knit the second. Bind off the stitch as normal.

Row 27: bind off 2 sts, purl to end (14)

(as this is a purl row, you will need to move the yarn from to back when actually passing the stitches over to bind off, so that the yarn is not caught between the stitches) purl to end

Row 28: bind off 2 sts, k to end (12)

Row 29: bind off 2 sts, p to end (10)

Row 30: bind off 2 sts, k to end (8)

Row 31: purl to end

Bind off remaining stitches and leave a tail of yarn approximately 20cm long.

To finish the badge:

Thread the tail of yarn into a large-eyed needle and baste the yarn around the perimeter of the knitted circle.

Lay the knitted circle with WS upwards, and place the cardboard badge blank in the centre of the circle.

Gently pull the yarn to gather the circle into the back of the badge, sew the yarn back and forth across the gap to attach the knitting to the badge, and secure the ends with a few stitches. Sew in the other yarn tail. Trim the ends of yarn.

The back of the badge after sewing it closed

Three badges ready to be embroidered/decorated

Embroider your motto and decorate your badge


From left: WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality), Smiley-face, CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) Peace symbol

Sew a safety pin to the back.

Wear with pride.

UPDATE, 2021: I have since found this book by Sarah Corbett,How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest’. Plus BBC 4 recently ran a documentary about Craftivism, Four Thought: Gentle Protest, presented by Jenny Eclair featuring the author.

Exhibition of first year (Level 4) undergraduate knitted textile students’s work at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.

To prepare for this design project, the students spent an afternoon at the museum in Ditchling, drawing from  the collection in the main galleries. They were also able to view the amazing archive of natural dyed woven textile samples by Ethel Mairet. These formed the core inspiration for a hand knitting project for the next 6 weeks. In this project they learned the basics, casting on, knit and purl stitches and binding off. Once these were mastered they moved onto ribs of various types, moss stitch and basketweave, cables, drop stitch and lace. In addition they learned how to dye using simple natural ingredients, and to hand spin. Its a great project that I love to lead.

Knitted samples and fashion sketches by: Sigita Kaleth, Charlee Singleton, Zoe Smith, Emily Powell, Georgia Conway, Melanie Valenzia, Lilian Sadeghi, Daisy Filani and Heather Acketts.

Natural Dyeing workshop, 8th September 2017

A really lovely day spent working with ‘kitchen’ natural dyes.

We used red cabbage, turmeric, avocado, onion skins and a lot of water and gas!Some people dyed wool yarns, I had some hand spun yarns and there was some fleece to test out in the dyebath. The avocados had been soaking for about 10 days in a mix of water and ammonia. I soaked the onions skins overnight in hot water. The red cabbage was chopped small and boiled for about an hour. All were brought to the simmer, but the avocados were not boiled. Yarn and fleece was mordanted overnight in 7% alum 8% cream of tartar, then rinsed before being put into the dyes. The red cabbage didn’t result in much by itself, a bluesy grey, but we split the bath into two pots. Adding ammonia to one brought out a wonderful warm green that stayed well after rinsing – we added a little salt to the dyebath to help this. To the other half we added vinegar, which resulted in a lovely. Lilac -pink tinged grey..By overdying the green from the red cabbage in the turmeric dyebath, we achieved a bright lettuce green. The finished hanks.. From top left, red cabbage/ammonia, turmeric, red cabbage/ammonia on hand spun yarn,blackberries with salt, onion skins on hand spun, red cabbage/ammonia, turmeric, blackberries (exhausted dyebath),red cabbage/ammonia/turmeric overdye, orange peel, turmeric, red cabbage/vinegar, turmeric, red cabbage/vinegar. onionskins.

Hand knitting student workshop with Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Although a little late on reporting this, I want to tell you about a lovely workshop I facilitated last autumn, (and you will understand why I say this rather than ‘taught’ in a minute). The workshop was in collaboration with Ditching Museum of Art +Craft in Sussex, and held in the charming new building that houses the museum’s collection.

As you may have gathered, I teach at the University of Brighton in the Fashion Textiles department. During the Spring the knitted textile students had visited the museum and drawn inspiration from the collection to develop a series of hand knitted samples. This project formed part of their degree learning,  and focused on hand knitting skills.

In the weeks running up to the workshop their knitted design work was exhibited in the museum alongside the exhibition, Dyeing Now: Contemporary Makers Celebrate Ethel Mairet’s Legacy, inspired by the museum’s Ethel Mairet archive of natural dyed samples.

Read more about this exhibition and its legacy of yarns dyed to Ethel Mairet’s recipes:

The exhibition of student work at Ditching Museum of Art + Craft. Rachel Graham, Lily Rodgers, Molly O’Halloran, Lily Rodgers, Nell Downes, Maddy Sellers, Lucy Burgess.

The students were invited to organise a drop in one-day workshop to share their hand knitting skills with museum visitors. Hence I facilitated the day, but the students ran the workshop. It was a lovely day, and although raining outside the room shone with colour and was warmed by the chatter.

Photo 15-10-2016, 14 19 13
Student-led workshop at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, October 2016

Photo 15-10-2016, 14 19 25

Photo 15-10-2016, 17 21 49
Some of the lovely knitting inspired by the museum and surrounding countryside at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.

The project ran again this academic year, and an exhibition of the work and an other workshop is planned for the Spring of 2018.

Over the years I have organised a variety of community events and workshops. Some of them are recorded in the photos on this page.

The Big Knit-In 2005-2010

This event was helf in the University of Brighton Grand Parade site garden every June from 2005- 2010.
The Big Knit-In 2009
The Big Knit-in 2008 – with a new pair of giant needles
The Big Knit-In 2007 – giant circular knitting and the knitted octopus
The Big Knit-In 2005

International Women’s Day 2007

Relax and knit corner at Hove Town Hall

Make-do-and-mend workshop, Brighton Science Festival 2010
A  ‘Smart’, weight sensitive shopping bag designed by the author. These were made by visitors in the workshop organised by the author during Brighton Science Festival 2010.
Laughinghens ‘Designing and calculating a garment pattern’, workshop, Sussex.  
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Laughinghens ‘Sock knitting’ workshop, Sussex.

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