Bettys Scarf

  • Noble, Sue (PI)

Project Details


The Bettys Scarf project arose as a result of the intimate Craft Conversations and interviews that were undertaken as a result of the Craft Circle Project.
The interviews were undertaken to gain a deeper insight into the craft circle members relationship with craft. They took place in the participants own homes using oral history. The purpose of the story telling was to identify a narrative of making.

Key findings

Eight interviews were conducted and as a result collaborative working was explored with the participant Betty. Betty described a process of making that was very organic and intuitive and free from a lot of the self-imposed rules that is often held within an academic community.

Through the course of their craft conversations, a particular item was identified that she made as being a key example of her working process, this was a child’s scarf that had a slot in the middle to avoid a bulky knot under a coat.
From both Betty’s description and the scarf, itself, a pattern was created that other people could work from.

I started off working directly from Betty’s scarf, just trying to follow the stitches and rows. I tried really hard just to knit and go with the flow in the way that Betty does. I really enjoyed the process of making and selecting the colours as I felt inspired to do so. But I couldn’t help myself counting the rows and as I was using scraps, and knitting in stripes, I couldn’t allow for the possibility that one or both of the colours would run out mid-row or mid-block, so I started to be more mindful of the rows in each block and create patterns or rules and made each stripe in combinations of 2’s and 3’s in my head. I tried to let the impact of the colours together, as they were knitted up, dictate how big each block was, but I couldn’t stop planning or thinking ahead, and I knew that I would want the two ends to be relatively balanced, so I allowed myself to make the decision that at about halfway, the second half would somewhat mirror the first half in terms of the numbers of rows in the blocks.

I had started off not planning, just knitting, following Betty’s work, but I couldn’t stop making decisions, I couldn’t just knit, When I tried the scarf that Betty made on a child it didn’t fit very well, which reinforced what I have been thinking from the interviews that it is the process of knitting that is the most important thing for the women typical of the Craft Circle members; the outcome is secondary to this.

For me, the process is less important than producing an artefact, of having something made. Although I really didn’t mind what I was knitting when I was knitting up Betty’s pattern, what was important was that the finished artefact reflected my aesthetic sensibility, that the colours ‘worked’ and were right, I knew it probably wasn’t going to be a functioning garment, but I still wanted an outcome.

For Betty it is purely the act of knitting, her artefacts aren’t very functional, she doesn’t mind what she makes, what material she uses, she’ll make the best of what she has, but not to the most appropriate use always, it is the process of knitting which motivates her.
Effective start/end date1/09/091/09/12


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