data and design

My first consideration in choosing a theme for prolonged use is that it has to be something I am deeply interested in, otherwise I won’t be able to sustain the work — that’s the kind of lightweight I am, I’m afraid. And even a deep interest may not be enough if something bright and shiny distracts me! The best choice for me is something I’m thinking about (and, to be honest, talking about) all the time anyway.

So what’s my abiding preoccupation? Data. Specifically, the reporting and visualisation of social statistics: from the breakdown of the £700 billion public sector budget to measuring the “wealth gap“, it’s all fair game — especially if it is something that is handled badly or gets misrepresented by politicians and/or in the media. I’ve spent many years tackling this in my own small way with sums, graphs and spreadsheets; now I plan to tackle it with weaving too.

It’s a rich seam of design material and — strange but true! — colourful textiles are a lot more attractive to many than the aforementioned spreadsheets. At the risk of sounding like a poor imitation of Noam Chomsky, I already have an idea for interpreting the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation in doubleweave… However, I’m not rushing to the loom as there’s a lot of sketching, thinking, planning to come first. The risk for me here is not of boredom, but of getting too worked up.

I plan to try and document some of my design thinking too, which is an area I tend to be a bit shy about. Like Lisa, I have recently joined the new CW study group (started by Tien) on designing fabrics. Yes, it is a bit crazy to sign up for something else, but the timing coincided so well with my new plan that I couldn’t resist. Discussion has already been lively and varied, with lots of different perspectives to ponder.

In the meantime, all the rain and its unfortunate effects on the East Coast Main Line have enabled me to make a good start on a different sock pattern. This is my “other favourite pattern” and it comes from Socks Socks Socks. I have knitted it in the official four-colour version, but found that a bit of a challenge. An easier way to use it is to stick to two yarns but with one yarn variegated to increase the interest. These are for Stuart, if they fit. I had no idea how to scale up the circumference for Great Big Feet so I just guessed.

data and design” was posted by Cally on 10 July 2012 at

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3 Responses

  1. Sandra Rude

    I think *anything* that inspires original textile design is fair game as fodder for the mill. Statistics? Sure! No problem. So long as they’re colorful statistics, of course.

  2. Theo Wright

    I will be really interested to see the results of the statistics work. This is an area I’ve thought about in the past but not done anything about in practice (so far). Was particularly inspired by by David McCandless’ book Information is Beautiful as well as the work of Edward Tufte.

    • Cally

      Yes! I am a big fan of Tufte as well – his books are so beautiful.