Wednesday Thinking – Is there enough diversity in the world of arts and crafts?

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv

When I heard there was going to be a new shopping TV channel dedicated to all things sewing and quilting, it almost made my year.

Then I started watching.

Here are some of the main cast of presenters and designers on the new shopping channel, Sewing Quarter.

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Picture credit/source: Sewing Quarter/https://www.sewingquarter.com/the-sewing-quarter/about-us/

Only 1 male presenter, no male designers, as for ethnic diversity – well here’s the picture, need I say more?

A while ago, I published a piece about the lack of diversity in the music industry, referencing the issues regarding the dominance of a single artist in the UK charts.  Sadly those same themes appear to dominate the world of art and crafts as well.

As much as I enjoyed the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, I was saddened that the range of crafts displayed didn’t reflect the wide diversity of the cratfters, producers and makers in the UK. During my 2 days at the show, I only saw 2 crafter/bloggers of colour at the event – Megan of Pigeon Wishes and Chinelo Bally. There also seemed to be very few male crafters live demonstrating at the show.

When I visit areas such as Goldhawk Road in West London, Walthamstow Fabric Market in East London and areas in-between such as Berwick Street and Portobello Road,  I see a united nations of crafters – beginner hobbyists to professionals, shoppers, shop owners, artists, young and the young at heart. So why is this not reflected in the main stream crafting media, fairs and TV shows?

I know there’s always YouTube, but I also know there is a strong appetite for new challenges, materials and techniques. Chinese jacquards, Indian silks, Nigerian Cottons, Japanese Embroidery, Italian Wools are all highly popular at the moment, but there are few places on the web to inform you how to use these wonderful fabric and techniques. When they are showcased, it is usually by people who are so far removed from the historical and social context of these crafts, the results becomes diluted. An recent example was highlighted during a quilting demonstration on Sewing Quarter where the cultural heritage of quilting was only briefly mentioned.

 

While personally I’m not a huge fan of Colette patterns for various reasons, at least they are attempting to reflect their diverse clientele, featuring models who are diverse in both shape and skin colour. It’s at least a small step the the right direction. Sadly, of all the independant pattern designers, Colette patterns is the only one I know of, who actively do so. None of the top 5 UK independent sewing pattern designers do, as far as I’m aware, which sends out subtle messages of exclusion.

It seems a great pity 2 genres; music and arts & crafts, ideal mediums for bringing people together, appear to be doing the opposite.

What you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Wednesday Thinking – Music Diversity?

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial

Is Ed Sheeran’s dominance of the UK music charts a cause for celebration, or does it highlight the lack of diversity in the music industry?

Last week, much was said about Ed Sheeran’s remarkable feat of having no less than 9 singles in the top ten singles chart. News commentators made much of the phenomenon, and music industry experts celebrated the success of the British artist and his huge record sales.

Ed Sheeran is a great talent. He has achieved in his short career levels of success than can only be arguably beaten by the likes of Adele, Robbie Williams and Coldplay. A host of number 1 singles and albums, Brit Awards, Sheeran is a young man, dare I say, precocious talent with a very long career ahead of him. His reputation as a musician, singer songwriter of unique talent, particularly in an overly commercial world, is well deserved.

His dominance in the British Music Charts, in any other era, would rightly be a cause of celebration. However, the Music Charts today, in the time of instant downloads and streaming, have perhaps unintentionally shown one side of the industry’s personally, which if not checked, could signal its rapid demise.

In a world where civil liberties are more under threat than they have been in decades, 2017 has already seen children dying from starvation and families destroyed in war-torn countries. Many in these uncertain times turn to some form of escape, such as music, and therein lies the problem.  In an industry which is still predominately run by white men, it appears that it’s true face is now being exposed by the one young, white male artist who has 90% of the top 10 singles in the chart.

Actually, it’s worse; Sheeran has no less than 16 singles in the top 20 chart. If it wasn’t for Chainsmokers and Coldplay, who are currently residing at number 7, Sheeran would have made a clean sweep of the top 10.  The entire top 20 is dominated by White artists, with Katy Perry featuring Skip Marley, the sole female act featuring the sole Black artist, (who happens to be the grandson of Bob) at number 17. Chainsmokers, a 2 piece DJ outfit from the US, collaborating with Coldplay, a 4 piece British band. The entire top 10 therefore consists of  7 White male musicians – only 3 acts from just 2 countries. Hardly an endorsement of musical diversity.

While the talent of these artists is undeniable, I’m disappointed that there was little mention of the screamingly obvious lack of diversity. When there are so many musical acts, playing a huge range of genres in the UK alone, coupled with the current global political climate, it is more than worrying that there are so few different artists and music genres represented in UK music charts. It is even more worrying in Brexit Britain, that the captains of the music industry, still predominantly white males, are celebrating this, especially in the week of International Womens’ Day.

If after all these decades fighting for equality, today women are only represented in the music charts by Katy Perry, and people of colour are represented by a ‘featured’ artist, then we have a very, very long way still to go in terms of diversity in the music industry. I hope that 1 person dominating the charts in this way, is a fluke. I fear that this may signal the start of a more aggressive move towards exclusion, in the pursuit of profit and we will all be poorer if that continues.

Wednesday Thinking – International Women’s Day

 

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial

Today is International Women’s Day. There will be several high profile, peaceful protests,  marches, events around the world, people brought together for the cause of equality for all.

If you’re marching tomorrow, taking part in an event, or would just like to get in the spirit of things, please check out my playlist of tunes with a not to subtle theme. Enjoy!

If you have music suggestions to add to the playlist, add them to the comments, and I may add them.

Thanks as ever for reading and happy Women’s Day, every day!

 

#2017MakeNine – Sewing and Knitting plans

Hello folks,

I don’t know about you, but I am done with Winter. I’m fed up with the cold, the rain, or as the tube station announcer described the miserable drizzle as, ‘adverse weather conditions’.  Hey, at least it wasn’t the usual, ‘leaves on the line’ or ‘wrong type of snow’ excuse for late running trains.

So today, I’ve turned off the TV and will keep it off, as quite frankly I can’t cope with another day of #FakePresident and his new side kick PM May. I need to recharge my batteries so that I can be more effective for the #Resistance.  Who would have thought that word would be trending 70 years after World War Two. Didn’t our grandparents leave this scene already?

Yesterday, I went to West Hampstead to visit the new Village Haberdashery shop, and then onwards to the Collaborative Store in Marylebone, to test a beauty product which was featured in Vogue and a new-on-the-market tea brand. During my travels I saw no less than 4 famous people – who needs Hollywood? Sewing, knitting, people watching, beauty, clothes and tea; ingredients for a pretty good day. I arrived home exhausted, hence posting today and not yesterday. When my legs ache from a walk-about in the beautiful parts of the the city, it’s another sign of a good day, at least that’s what I’m telling my poor little legs.

I will post more about yesterday’s mini adventures later this week, but today I’m concentrating on a new sewing and knitting challenge for 2017. The concept was originally developed by Lucky Lucille. I didn’t plan on doing another make challenge this year, as I was going to tackle my UFOs pile. But then 2016 happened, and knocked me and my challenges sideways. Having a perfect wardrobe of hand made clothes didn’t seem such a priority, when people were drowning in Mediterranean sea.

I made a vow that 2017 was going to be the year when hope triumphed, and I was going to play my part in making the world a better place. For me to do that, I have to fully embrace my creative side, so #2017MakeNine challenge accepted.

I’ve already technically made 3 items, so it’s nice to know that I’ve already made a positive start. But in the interests of fairness, I will count my Greenery knit set as 1 item, and will embellishment them with some very trendy embroidery by the end of the year.

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So allow me to introduce to you, my sewing and knitting plans for the #2017MakeNine challenge:

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  1. Greenery knit set, with embroidery
  2. Pink pussy protest knitted hat
  3. Black cat knitted hat, with felt and embriodery embellishments
  4. Floral square neck tunic, with rick rack embellishment
  5. Blue gingham dress
  6. Cerise gingham skirt
  7. Cobalt palazzo trousers
  8. Sunshine knitted scarf, with bumble bee embellishment
  9. Balloon print dress

I will soon post a youtube video to showcase my crafting plans with further details, so please stay tuned for that.  By the way, I have designated February as ‘Design Month’, so this list fits in perfectly with what I have in store for you over the shortest month of the year. Cue new graphic!

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I’m pretty excited about this core list of makes, and I know that as the political turmoil waves it’s ugly wand, I will have something to occupy my thoughts when I need hope and light during the dark times.

Are you participating in the #2017MakeNine challenge? What are your sewing and knitting plans? Please share in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe for more. Continue to go high people.

Resist.

The Art of Protest

Hello

I discovered this great post on Brown Paper Bag featuring poster art from and inspired by the recent Women’s March.

Art and activism often go together, but these posters also prove that humour can help shine a light even in the darkest hours.

Do please check out the link – http://www.brwnpaperbag.com/womens-march-illustrated-signs/?mc_cid=782b052a55&mc_eid=7e89d5474d and share your artist achievements with us.

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to subscribe and comment below.

Learn how to knit the pussy hat

Hello,

Well, what a fabulous day yesterday was. It was the first time I have been able to smile until my face hurts for months. Ever since #FakePresident robbed the election, I have felt helpless, down hearted – you know all the usual. Actually, it not usual. None of this is. I’m normally a happy, go lucky, cheerful soul. Brexit and #FakePresident temporarily hampered that. Temporarily not permanently.

Recently, as my Instagram followers know, I came across, during my pre-spring clear up, some lovely balls of wool.  In less than 10 days I knitted 1 scarf, 1 hat and a pair of mittens. I am not a knitter. I occasionally dabble in the craft, but I generally stick to the knit one row and pearl one row regime and that’s about that. Hardly challenging, but it served me well every time I wanted a new scarf.

But 10 days ago, I discovered 4.5 balls of wool. Such a lovely green shade, the colour of growth, nature, even hope for the future. And I started knitting. But I didn’t just want to knit. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to do justice to this beautiful yarn and create something other than just a bog standard garter stitch scarf.

I did some research and learnt finally how to do a simple 2×2 rib stitch. That lead to me successfully knitting a wearable hat. I then researched how to make finger-less mittens, and I’m happy to say that I have made my first complete set of winter woollen  accessories.

greenery-knits

If little me can do this in 10 days, whilst running a social network, working and negotiating life in a capital city, what can I achieve in 10 weeks?

In those 10 days, I have watched as one role model family left the White House, to be replaced by the most despicable, greedy, criminal, un-American, unpatriotic, classless, unworthy, traitors move in.

But during those 10 days, I have also witnessed the very best in humanity. Millions boycotted the Inauguration, much the annoyance and embarrassment of the #FakePresident, and millions and millions, not just in Washington, but all over the US and all over the world came out the very next day to protest. The causes were many and vast, but centred around the fight to protect the civil rights for all. The protests also gave me something. Something very dangerous to people who believe in hate. The protests gave me hope.

So to my fellow fighters of equality, lovers of the human race, protectors of civil rights, I want to say …

THANK YOU.

This is a long introduction to a video I have discovered earlier today – a tutorial for the pussy hat project. Yesterday’s worldwide protests may be over, but it only marked the beginning of to the road for justice. So I encourage you to continue the protest by knitting. Knit your pussy hats, not only for yourself, but for your neighbours, family, friends, even people you don’t know. Knit, and wear with pride your creations, and continue prove to the #FakePresident, that Love will always trump hate.

By the way, I described myself earlier as, ‘not a knitter’. That was 10 days ago. Now, I’m working on my 4th knitting project of the year (day 22 of 2017!), and planning my 5th. I think I can call myself a knitter now. I wonder what I will be in 10 weeks from now – word on the street is there will soon be a vacancy in the Oval Office …

Just imagine what you can achieve when you believe in yourself and love others. But don’t just imagine, work towards your goals, then set higher, bigger goals. That way our children and grandchildren won’t have to protest in the same way we, our parents and grandparents had to.

I shall be sharing more details about my knitwear collection soon. For now, thanks for reading, and please join me in our quest for equality for all. Subscribe, follow, like, comment and love 🙂

Celebrating the Obamas and Hillary Rodham Clinton

Today, I am celebrating the great achievements of President Obama and his family, and thinking of Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton – the true President-Elect, who should have been inaugurated as President of the United States today.

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Today, I am boycotting the inauguration, because I can and will never knowingly support a person who is a proven racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and open mocker of disable people.

I can never knowingly support anyone who thinks it’s OK to verbally and physically attack anyone and encourages others to do so.

I can never knowingly support anyone who cheats thousands of students with his fake University, taking their money not to enrich their education, but to enrich his own greed.

I can never knowingly support a so called billionaire who doesn’t pay taxes, especially when he will demand hard working, honest people to pay more than their fair share of taxes.

I can never knowingly support anyone who does not believe in the freedom of the press.

I can never knowingly support anyone who thinks being supported by the KKK is good thing and fails to condemn them.

I can never knowingly support anyone who relies on the support of a foreign enemy of the United States, in order to cheat the election results.

I can never knowingly support anyone who is willing to over turn ObamaCare, and risk the lives of millions of American citizens.

I can never knowingly support anyone that makes GW Bush look intelligent and Tricky Dicky look like a saint.

For this, and for so many reasons, I am boycotting the Inauguration and anything associated with the false incoming administration.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

is the true

President of the United States of America.

Thank you to Mr President and Mrs Obama for all you have done and all you will continue to do.  It pains me that you are about to be replaced by a completely cheap, classless, clueless, racist, sexist, ill-educated couple, who are totally unworthy of you and all your wonderful achievements. The White House is about to contaminated, by a couple who have no idea about the rule of law, or any notion of unity and celebrating diversity. But I take heart that it will not be for long, because the truth will out. While we will remember the Obama name forever with honour and pride, their hours are numbered, and will always be associated with crudeness, crookedness, greed, destruction and evilness.

OBAMA

“YES WE CAN, YES WE DID, YES WE CAN.”

Thank you Mrs Obama, President Obama and Madame President Rodham Clinton.

Thank you Mr President

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To President and Mrs Obama,

Thank you for being the very best First Family ever to grace the White House.

Thank you for serving us, the people, ahead of your own ambitions.

Thank you for your love, loyalty and compassion.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Thank you for sharing your hopes and dreams.

Thank you, for being you.

 

YES WE CAN

YES WE DID

YES, WE CAN AGAIN!

Wednesday thinking – editorial: Bees, butterflies and beige food

January 2017 Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com
Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2nd week of 2017 and so far from my perspective, it’s looking good.  But then again the UK is still in the EU and President Obama is still in the White House. With daily reminders of the impending doom and gloom in the socio-political sphere, I’m trying to keep my mind on more positive events. Hope the first few days of 2017 are treating you well.

The recent Vegan Life Live show is still foremost in my mind.  Examples include rethinking how I feel about bee conservation.

For years I have tried to do my part to save the little bumble bees. I have planted bee and butterfly friendly shrubs, provided safe watering stations, I have even thought about getting my own bee hive. But then I read this post on the Vegan Society website, and now I feel – well a little confused and very guilty.  I like honey, it’s one of my key ingredients in my home made cosmetics. I enjoy cooking and baking with honey, often as a ‘healthier’ substitute for sugar.  So how do I reconcile this with the negative aspects of the honey production industry? Answers on a post card please.

One of the substitutes recommended by the vegan society is golden syrup. Now I have an big issue with this, as I try to (but admit I don’t always succeed) avoid using or buying from any company that has or had historical dealings with the African slave trade.  So somewhere there is going to have to be a difficult trade off.

I shall research this issue further and will get back to you with my findings.

Beige food by any other colour would taste as sweet?

Another thing that got me thinking, was a comment made by London Afro Vegan on her Instagram feed.  She posted a photo of some beautiful food she made and shared with the audience during her cooking demo at Vegan Life Live. Esme, the lady behind London Afro Vegan wrote, “Please forgive … the fact that every gosh dam thing in the pictures looks beige”. It was a type of comment that we all say, that doesn’t have any deep, hidden meaning.

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Picture Source and Credit – london_afro_vegan (Instagram)

Oddly though, the comment stuck in the back of my mind. Why would anyone feel compelled to apologise for delicious looking and tasty food? Then it hit me in the middle of recipe developing a meal based on chestnut mushrooms and chestnut puree (recipe coming soon). You can’t get much more beige that this!

rice-mushrooms-chestnuts-recipe-idea

There are many misconceptions about vegetarian and vegan food being bland, boring and beige. However, there are many beige or brown foods in many a meat eaters recipe book – soups, cakes, stews, curries, pies, etc. Yet few seem to complain that these foods are bland, boring or beige.  In most cases, it’s the vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits that gives these popular recipes any notion of colour and flavour.  So why, still, do so many people believe that vegan and vegetarian food is beige, tasteless and boring?  And what is wrong with beige anyway?  If beige was removed from any form of diet, we would all soon be in trouble.  Our daily bread would literally be snatched from our mouths. If I turned around and said to my family, you can’t eat bread anymore because it’s beige, you know I think they would cry. Can you imagine a world without cashew nuts, almonds or pistachios? I think I might start crying too.

Maybe it’s just basic respect, I could never understand why someone would actively disrespect another’s diet. I would rather enjoy a conversation about food, especially if there’s a chance to swap recipes and gain knowledge of another cuisine and ideology.

As much as I adore Instagram, it concerns me that society as a whole have pre-described notions of what is good and what is bad colour-wise.  We spend so much time and effort on decoration and image, at the expense of how food tastes, or how it was produced in the first place. Yes, the more colourful a picture is, the more noticeable it becomes. However, we are also transferring this idea towards notions of what is good food. There is already a proven correlation between beauty and race in terms of colour, should we travel down this negative path with food too?

So please London Afro Vegan, don’t apologise for your beautiful food and your kind, generous nature. Thank you for your lovely ‘beige’ food and sharing your knowledge and wisdom.  Anyone who shares their food with friends and strangers is in my book, the owner of a beautiful soul. And the world can do with more people like you.

And to everyone else, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to continue enjoying my meals, whatever colour they happen to be. Anyone for seconds?

That’s another year over with …

… so now what?

jan-17

Hello,

Today is the 4th day of a new year, and as I prepare to take down the Christmas decorations, I’m reflecting on the year past and wondering what good came of it, if anything.

2016 for me in the great scheme of things, was a huge step backwards in terms of social democracy and political change. I recall as a school student discussing with fellow students that I would never see a Black President of the United States in my lifetime. So imagine my surprise when Barack Obama won the 2008 and 2012 elections. Not only did I live to see this phenomenon, so did my parents and grandparents. We were all given hope that anyone who worked hard enough, and had a good heart could achieve anything – how long could it be before we see a female United States President?

Then 2016 happened. So did BREXIT, then even worse Hillary didn’t win the electoral college. It wasn’t so much that the UK is facing a future outside of the EU, and the US elected Duck a la Orange, it was the fact both political campaigns highlighted what many people suspected but didn’t want to face –  that the UK and US are populated with many ignorant people, who are lead by power hungry, racists and bigots. Playing on our fears, many claims were made including how the the NHS would be saved by leaving the EU. Then within hours of winning, the leader of the BREXIT campaign admitted on live national television that it wasn’t true, and knew it wasn’t true, but didn’t say anything in order to get the votes.

Meanwhile hate crime has increased, with Neo-nazis now given the mandate to intimidate people they deem unworthy of British citizenship. At times it feels like we are living in pre-WW2 Germany.

Then Hillary didn’t win.  I knew deep down that this was a possibility, but everyone around me, maybe in a desperate action of hope kept saying, there was no way the US electorate would vote for a proven racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, non-tax paying, questionable billionaire and proven idiot. Besides, Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person ever to run for President!

Oops!

The events of 2016 has proven to me that we are all so out of touch with one another, then the blatantly ovbious results occurs, we are all taken by surprise. Yes, it was great to have a Black President as it represented a move towards equality. But representation is not the same as reality.

This all of course pales into insignificance when we see the war victims of Syria, the suffering of refugees as well as victims of terrorist attacks.

So what has 2016 meant to me?

  • The most qualified woman, can still be beaten to the role by the least qualified man.
  • Racism is still a thing in the 21st century.
  • Sexism is still a thing in the 21st century.
  • White Supremacy is still a thing in the 21st century.
  • We are more concerned about Kim K W, than we are about who is running our countries.
  • Our Parents, Grand Parents and Great Grand Parents worked hard and suffered greatly, and as it turns out, for very little positive societal gain.

I hear the arguments that we should just accept BREXIT and the US Presidency results and carry on. But doing that for me, means accepting that everyone I know and hold dear has lost several hard won for fights. It means that women still won’t be paid the same as their male counterparts, it means that people are in fear of physical and verbal attacks just because they are wearing a different style of dress to their attackers, or speak with an non-British or American accent.  It means that if my brothers want to take time off work to care for their children, they will be seen as less manly. If my sisters wear trouser suits instead of mini skirts, they are seen as inhuman.

While I can list a number of personal highlights, such as hosting my first photography exhibition, expanding my social network platforms and improving my sewing skills, these now seem empty whenever I switch on the TV news. Perhaps I was too hopeful – I thought we were finally moving towards equality, respect and peace.  I thought we were moving away from nuclear war, and towards world peace.  Now the threat of WW3 and social discord is more apparent than ever.

The easy option would be to just give up and hide in a corner.

I can’t do that.

But, sadly, I also know I can’t do much either.  But I can do something, and sometimes that is enough.

health-wb

It’s now 2017. I want to move forward, but not in the same direction as BREXIT or Orange-head. I’m still working towards peace, harmony, respect, understanding and love. These are my overall goals for 2017.

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Watch my January resolutions, by clicking on the image above.

What are your goals for 2017? Please comment below.  Thanks for reading.