The City of Briswool


The City of Briswool is a project to knit, crochet and needlefelt a huge model representing Bristol. Led by Vicky Harrison at Paper Village Arts this project has been in the making for over twelve months and has so far involved 90 makers, 4,000 hours of work, 10 workshops and hundreds of cups of tea! When the model initially went on display in May 2014 at Paper Village it managed to attract 4,000 visitors in just 10 days. The pictures I’ve included here are from that first exhibition, which really was a fabulous sight to behold. Since May the model has continued to evolve as people work on new contributions and expand upon the existing landscape. This weekend (4th and 5th October) the model is getting its second outing – this time at M-Shed. It’s open on both days from 11-4 so do pop in and have a look!


Over the course of the weekend a series of workshops will be running called ‘how to craft a city’. If you want to join in you need to be able to knit or crochet, just bring along size 4mm hook or needles. Workshop attendees will be:
* Making Colston Hall and The Old Duke pub as a group
* Helping to sew together Queens Square, King Street, and Park Street
* Able to join groups such as Briswool makes Easton
* Assisted with identifying and designing their own contributions to the model

The photos here are just a taster of what will be in store, expect new contributions and a bigger city in a bigger space at M-Shed!


The paper village coral reef

For the last six months 38 crocheters, knitters, and needlefelters have worked together with the community arts and crafts shop paper village to create a woolly coral reef.


It’s been a great project to get involved with, for not only did participants get to practice new skills – I learnt ‘hyperbolic crochet’ and how to needlefelt – but it was a fab opportunity to meet other crafty people in the local area. Since beginning back in November all sorts of lovely coral models and fishy friends have been brought into Vicky at the shop, but it was only when it all came together in to one window display last week that you really got a sense of how much work had gone into the reef and how beautiful it looks. The photos really don’t do it justice. 

Image   Image

I mentioned hyperbolic crochet – this is a fascinating technique pioneered by University lecturer Daina Taimina who wanted to make visual representations of complex mathematical concepts. She set out to model a hyperbolic plane, essentially a shape that is the geometric opposite of a sphere. So, rather than curving in on itself and having a closed surface, as is the case with a sphere, a hyperbolic plane curves away from itself at every point. This comes about due to an exponential increase in size as the plain grows. In terms of crocheting, then, you start out by crocheting around in a circle and continue to make it exponentially larger with each round. By starting with a circle of, say 10 double crochets in the first round, you would then do two double crochets into each of the first stitches for the second round (total 20 stitches), then another two double crochets into each of the stitches for the third round (total 40 stitches), two double crochets into each stitch for the forth round (total 80 stitches), and so on and so forth. The result is a structure which looks remarkably like coral, or a brain (or ‘brain coral’ as we’ve been calling it!) Physically creating these shapes gives you a real sense of how this mathematical principle works in practice, the first few rounds seem to take no time at all but by the time your piece is 20cm round it can take hours to get all the way around it. I’ve never found maths quite so interesting before! 


Learning to needlefelt was also pretty exciting, although somewhat less complicated on the whole. Needlefelting is a method of creating felt without the use of water. Instead, practitioners will use wool tops and a needle that is covered in notches. These notches work to tangle the smooth wool tops, making them stick together. The more the fibres are poked and prodded, the stronger and denser the structure becomes.


Vicky ran several workshops during which she showed people how to do this to make a fish (or seahorse, shark, squid….) which are also now a part of the display. I love the creativity people have brought to their creatures – each of them looks so individual and they make such colourful additions to the reef. 


As well as being a great creative project and a way of bringing people together, the woolly reef also sits alongside an exhibition to draw attention to the plight of coral reefs around the world. Definitely well worth a read. The reef is on display NOW at Paper Village and will be there until the end of June. Paper Village is at 200 North Street, Southville, BS3 1JF and is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm. 


Snow business

We in Bristol (and most of the UK by all accounts) woke up to a white winter wonderland this morning. Which suddenly reminded me that I never got around to blogging about the results of our woolly winter mischief at the end of 2012! On the evening of December 18th seven members of the paper village ‘knit and natter’ group met in Southville at 10:30 pm clutching carrier bags filled with knitted and crocheted snowflakes. Our plan was to create a snowstorm in one of the little public gardens just off North Street but we had so many snowflakes that we ended up finding a second tree further down the road to adorn as well. It looked amazing when it was done, and even as we were putting it up people were walking past and exclaiming how lovely and festive it was. I even gave one lady a crocheted snowflake for her to take home and hang in the tree in her garden as she was so taken with them! Apparently there are a few still left hanging, so I hope they’re enjoying the real snow landing around them today. As promised, here are a few photos from the night….

And a token image of the actual snow in Bristol today (just because it’s pretty):

Winter Woolly Mischief (in progress…)

One of the lovely local craft shops in Bristol – Paper Village – is well known for its yarn bombing exploits around the city, especially in the Bedminster/Southville area. Just check out their Flickr photostream for examples of some of their past projects!

Anyway,  I’ve recently been asked to help out with creating some winter-themed woolly mischief with them. As such I’ve been busy crocheting away to create lots of snowflakes. It’s great fun and really easy to do – my favourite design (and one that I’ve now committed to memory) is loosely based on a red heart pattern I found online. I like this pattern as the finished product comes out pretty sturdy and looks quite effective. They look even better when covered in a clear layer of glitter glue as well! It’s been a while since I really did any crochet – I’ve taken more to knitting lately and have been busy crafting Christmas presents and such like (blog post on that to follow in due course…)

I can’t give too much away about what we’re planning to do with all the snowflakes at the moment, but it’s not long now until the wool is unleashed! I’m looking forward to it, I’ve not yarn bombed in a while and I’ve never done anything as part of a larger group so it should be fun! Watch this space for updates!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak-preview of what I’ve been making: