Mrs Miniver Returns!

My ongoing series of art socks is currently having its second solo show, this time in a local art gallery, The Spring in Havant, Hampshire. As well as those pieces that I showed at Prick Your Finger last spring, there are three new additions to the series.

The Sherlock Holmes sock, as it was then called was in its infancy last April and has grown somewhat and been rechristened ‘The Gathering Mystery of the Silk Sock’.

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book was the inspiration behind the smallest piece in the show, ‘The Progression of Nobody Owens’.

The most recent new work is Hodbins-All! which if you are a fan of the works of Connie Willis, you might have more than an inkling about already.

I will be sharing a little more of the stories behind the three new pieces over the next couple of weeks, but if you are local and would like to visit in person, the exhibition is on in the Sadler Gallery at The Spring until March 24th. If you are coming to the Stitch and Craft show at Olympia on Saturday 19th March, I will be giving a talk about the Mrs Miniver series at 10.30am too.

All photographs taken by my lovely chap, Giles and copyright Giles Babbidge Photography.


An Octopus in a Church

Last weekend I visited the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at Salisbury Arts Centre while the reef was on its tour of Britain. Having caught it just before the end of its stay before its subsequent move to Gloucestershire, I was lucky enough to see all of the fabulous new pieces of crocheted coral to be added in this particular location.

It took me a while to find the arts centre, not being very familiar with Salisbury. It’s a gorgeous city with the tallest Cathedral spire in Britain, along with a beautiful river and markets. Tucked away in what was formerly St Edmund’s Church was the arts centre.

Born out of the collaboration between American sisters, the work on show was nothing short of beautiful.

The story behind the coral reef is an interesting one. Margaret Wertheim, a mathematician and her sister Christine who direct the Institute of Figuring in Los Angeles, California started a project in 2005 to re-create the creatures of the coral reefs using a crochet technique invented by a mathematician. It both celebrates the amazements of the reef, and explores the hyperbolic geometry underlying coral creation.

The British crochet coral reef is a satellite of the worldwide Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project which resides at the Institute of Figuring. The British leg of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is presented in partnership with the Crafts Council. It is a large-scale art work that consists of thousands of brightly coloured crocheted coral and associated creatures created by craft makers all around the world.

One of the main attractions for me (as well as the technique) is the narrative element of the work, that the reef grows as it tours. Participants at each location learn to crochet and add their coral to the reef, and it is then restaged in a different configuration with the new additions at the next exhibition venue.

The techniques used in the reef are a mixture of crocheting in the traditional sense along with freeform and experimental crochet using recycled materials such as plastic bags and wire. All of the sections are apparantly models of hyperbolic planes, meaning a geometric pattern resembling real coral that is made by increasing the stitches on each row of crochet in equal numbers. There were instructions that you could take with information and patterns for making your own hyperbolic coral in crochet too.

I believe that the next venue for the reef will be in Gloucestershire, and if you’re in the area, I’d strongly recommend a visit. It is inspirational.

Here’s some more about how the reef came into being in a really interesting TED video of Margaret Wertheim talking about the reef, its history and its future.


All images copyright Ingrid Murnane.

Display for the Seventies, Now.

IngridNation Buttonhole Bloom Brooches, image copyright Giles Babbidge

In visiting the Seventies exhibition at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant yesterday I was reminded that Giles had taken lots of nice photographs of the jewellery that I had made to go alongside the exhibition, and that I hadn’t ever shared them here. What was interesting about this commission was that I didn’t do the display myself, but just dropped them off at the gallery and came back to see what they had done with them later… Having previously worked in a gallery and being very much involved in presentation and display of work, I have to admit that I was nervous that someone else would be arranging my work, but Kate did a wonderful job of it, as you can see below.


The Seventies exhibition is still on for a while yet – if you’d like to see dishy men in mustard tank tops, Rolf Harris grinning out from the box for a Stylophone, a bright red Raleigh Chopper or a teenager’s bedroom complete with sulky-1978- teenaged-girl, do give it a visit.

The Countdown has Begun

The Spring Arts Centre in Havant, Hampshire have just listed my forthcoming exhibition on their website. Suddenly the exhibition seems REAL, you know? This time there will be new additions to the Mrs Miniver series of art socks including the Sherlock Holmes silk sock that I’m knitting from clues sent to me by my own sock-knitting Moriarty, Susan Crawford. It will be displayed as  a work in-progress as the mystery can’t be solved all in one fell swoop.

Here is the decoding so far. You can just see the start of some long-stemmed flowers in the heather colour.

Pictured below is Katie‘s half of the friendsocks that we made last year. It has winged its way back from Boston, Mass, where Katie now lives to be part of the exhibition. It will return after its tour.

Mrs Miniver ’s Socks
By Ingrid Murnane

1 Feb – 24 Mar
This exhibition takes its name from Mrs Miniver’s Problem, a concept in geometry concerned with overlapping circles. According to Jan Struther’s wartime character Mrs Miniver, a relationship of two people should share exactly two thirds of their interests. Ingrid has combined these ideas through a series of hand knitted socks.

This week I have mostly been making…

… jewellery for the 1970s showcase exhibition at my local arts centre.

I must admit, when they said they’d love some of my work, but ‘…could the colours be more 7os’, I immediately thought of the things that my parents had about the house when I was growing up. You know… the flowery orange and purple bedsheets; the brown and yellow patterned saucepans… (and if you’re too young to have seen such wonders, here’s an example.)

Vintage Dishes by ex.libris on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Nice, hey?

You might be relieved to know that they didn’t want to go full on with the brown-orange colour scheme. I certainly was. I am still partway through making everything, but wanted to share what I have so far. I’ve made a whole bunch of knitting needle bangles, that you can see in the first image, and more of  my knitted flower brooches in zingy colourways. There’s just the one concession to the brown and orange flowers of my youth in the bottom left hand corner!

They’ll be on display and for sale at The Spring, Havant Arts Centre from 1st September til January 2011, but if you can’t wait for that you can also get them here.

Let me know what you think of the new colours: I’m really liking them and am wondering whether to go for this brighter look in my regular work.

Friendsocks (finally)

Remember the Friendsocks?

Remember how originally we were going to make two Mrs Miniver style double ended socks: one each to keep once they’re done and Katie returns to America? If you’ve been following the story, you will know that in the event, a pair of ordinary socks seemed to fit the bill. We knitted them up concurrently, swapping them over at our knitting group, taking over where the other left off. We didn’t follow the same design or use the same yarn, but knit in a way that is typically ‘us’ and independently showed the way we individually like to knit. We helped each other when we needed it and didn’t worry if we didn’t knit them for a couple of weeks either. That’s the nature of our friendship, thus it was reflected in the socks.

They even were exhibited at Prick Your Finger in London, where Katie and I did a small performance to just finish them at the Private View.

In knitting this fraternal pair of socks we are decided to mark, in the knitting, significant (or not so significant) events which take place in our lives as we made them. Katie came up with this idea from a lady who she knew that marked events that happened whilst she knitted a shawl. This lady wrote a note on a piece of paper and attached it in the appropriate place with a safety pin. This idea very much appeals to my geeky museum-collections-management side, so we did indeed catalogue events in our lives during the sock-making with labels.

It certainly was a journey!

All photographs copyright Giles Babbidge photography.

Jeeves and Wooster Socks

One of the Jeeves and Wooster socks. Image © Giles Babbidge Photography

This pair of socks is part of the Mrs Miniver series. I decided to branch out on the original Mrs Miniver concept, and to knit a series of socks that would encapsulate the essence of literary characters and talk about their relationships. As I’m sure you are aware, Jeeves is the ‘gentleman’s gentleman’, the idle-rich 1930s playboy Bertie Wooster’s valet in P.G. Wodehouse’s series of books. Bertie can certainly be a bit of a prat, rather unable to look after himself and getting himself into all kinds of mischief. He is constantly reliant on Jeeves to sort everything out for him from the daily basics, on up.

I found a great pattern in the Knitting Reference Library for a 1930s Wonder-Sock which really is a marvellous thing. The toes and heels of the sock are knitted separately and joined on in order that they could be easily replaced and thus saving on darning time. I think Jeeves would approve.  His part of each sock is, of course, knitted in black wool. None of Bertie’s ‘jolly purple socks’ for him!

From P. G Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves, p94-5

He started to put out my things, and there was an awkward sort of silence.

‘Not those socks, Jeeves,’ I said, gulping a b it but having a dash at the careless, off-hand tone. ‘Give me the purple ones.’

‘I beg your pardon, sir?’

‘Those jolly purple ones.’

‘Very good sir.’

He lugged them out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of the salad. You could see that he was feeling it deeply.

You can see the exhibition Mrs Miniver and the Plateaknits at Prick Your Finger yarn and haberdashery shop in Bethnal Green, London until the end of April.