"Nancy thought she was the only one who loved to knit but then she met some Brown Owls and together they knitted and crocheted a host of woolen treats."
“Knitting Nancy” is a group exhibition for the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2010 featuring the art/craft work of 12 women from Adelaide: Tracey Burman, Cathy Dodson, Alice Every, Lianne Gould, Cherry Greenslade, Toula Kantalis, Kate McMurray, Deb Milsom, Trenna Oelsnik (illustrations), Marlene Ritchie, Melissa Williams and Rebecca Wu.
The idea for the exhibition originated when a parcel from Perth carrying an Amigurumi toy (Japanese-style knitted stuffed toy) was delivered to Trenna Oelsnik and she was overwhelmed by the thought that this object had been hand-crafted just for her. With no knitting or crochet skills of her own, Trenna was intrigued to find out how and why women are drawn to these crafts and wanted to showcase their wonderful creations alongside her wool inspired illustrations.
First she met Rebecca Wu who “... first discovered the joys of knitting from her mother when she was about 10, when she knitted a cape for her tiny toy penguin. Ten years later, she rediscovered it as a way of whiling away quiet afternoons and long evenings. Now, combining her love of all things yummy and quirky with her favourite blue glittery knitting needles, she knits bright, fruit-influenced or lacy scarves to wear, cushions to sit with and cupcakes, strawberries and other cute things to fancy."
Then she met the Adelaide “Brown Owls” craft group and 10 members joined the exhibition all with their own stories to tell.
“I take pleasure in sewing and crocheting amigurumi-style quirky soft-toys for my family, friends and myself honestly just for the pure fun of it! Crochet to me means snuggling up my grandma’s extraordinarily warm crochet blanket during Winter, the excitement of finding lovely wool, and of course the relaxation that is inextricably linked to working with both wool and handicrafts. Most importantly I love a challenge - with something as simple as wool and a hook virtually anything can be crocheted." Tracey Burman
“Colour, texture and energy - the driving forces behind all my little or big projects. I paint portraits and landscapes using acrylic paint -cos it drys soo quickly and I can play with it - then i can scribble pastels and my coloured pencils all over it. But !!!! I also love fabric so I have screen printed fabric over the years and I have sewn everything from leather to tulle. I love wool - I have spun and hand-dyed it and knitted and crocheted many bits and pieces - Now I am working on trying to bring it all together." Cathy Dodson
“I crochet because I can. Anyone can. I learnt from a small, middle aged woman; when I was stuck on a pattern I asked my friend’s mum; when I realised I was holding the yarn incorrectly I was watching a documentary on Indigenous women crocheting for their community and now I crochet with the Brown Owls. All of these women crochet and anyone can. I love that anything can be crocheted and thinking about what unexpected things can be made - the potential is infinite." Alice Every
“I've always wanted a castle, can't afford to buy one, so I thought I might knit myself one. Meanwhile, this is just a bit of training for the big day!" Lianne Gould
“My Mum taught me to crochet when I was little and ever since I’ve always had at least one project on the go. I love the versatility of crochet and the fact that there are no stitches you can drop. Over the years I’ve built up quite a collection of yarn and I’ve set myself a challenge for this project – ‘use as much of my stash as I can’. Sounds easy enough but honestly I can lose hours in a yarn store just dreaming of all the things I could make with the beautiful colours and textures." Cherry Greenslade
“I have always been very interested in Crafts and from a young age was inspired to 'make' things. Having a very crafty Greek mother has surprisingly not put me off setting my fingers to work. I have worked on felted, knitted, crocheted and sewn items either for aesthetic pleasure or practical gifts. I am always on the lookout for time to be spent on such ventures however, always trying to balance work and play, and so when I do find the time I feel a deep satisfaction in what I have made. Well most of the time anyway" Toula Kantalis
“Whilst I would prefer to work in other mediums and produce other works of art, having children has inspired me to live in the moment and create art that brings joy to my boys, our life and our home.
My creations are often started on a whim, inspired by an op-shopped bounty of some kind, usually made without a pattern, often unfinished for a long time but finally completed. To what audience reaction? "Is that for me!?" or "What is it? I don't want that" You just never know what you are going to get..." Kate McMurray
“I do bits and pieces of various crafts and lovingly care for vintage items inherited from great aunts, aunts, elderly neighbours, Mum as part of the matrilinear tradition. I experience short bursts of knitting and other craft frenzies as an expression against an age of mass-production and cheap imports, where the population has to a large degree, become de-skilled. This is why the Brown Owls are so great - they revive and celebrate our traditions, re-working them for the current era." Deb Milsom
“I’ve never crocheted before, but I like the challenge of learning new skills, and watching something being created before my eyes!” Marlene Ritchie
“I grew up surrounded by women well practised in the home arts so it was a natural progression for me to take them up myself, especially when surrounded by so many great teachers. But the focus was always on objects that had a function, rather than creating things that looked pretty but served no purpose, and I have carried that with me. Even now I pretty much only knit to clothe my kids or make useful things such as dishcloths etc, but my crochet occasionally extends to more fun (although still practical) things such as amigurumi food items for the kids to play with. More often than not my inspiration comes from a need for something, with the resources needed to create the item usually sourced from whatever I already have in my stash.” Melissa Williams