Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cornelia Sollfrank

Cornelia Sollfrank's questions seem pertinent to the Html Patchwork...

“Currently most women seem to prefer to undertake politically engaged work in a purely cultural environment and on a non-technological level. Women are not actively influencing the development of hard- and software, and therefore are surrendering any chance to share the related power. The question is, whether cultural/ aesthetic practice alone can sufficiently affect technological development, or whether women finally will have to get their hands dirty with technology. We have to ask ourselves questions like "How deep do we have to get into technology in order to be able to handle it consciously and be able to influence technological developments?" and "What prevents us from just going for it?" and "Does cyberfeminism necessarily require technical competence, or is it sufficient to theorize about technology and to focus on the social, cultural and political aspects of new technologies?" Cornelia Sollfrank (1999),

Her comments raise important questions about the use of art to explore an open source paradigm... Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Last patchworkshop at Access Space

What a busy week! On Thursday we finally sourced the missing fabrics (mostly greens) from the Karachi Stores on Attercliffe Road. They were so helpful and very generous. Thanks Tahir. Abi was right to recommend the shop. Indian fabrics have a greater yellow/green colour range, and have fabulous bright almost luminescent colours.
Then Saturday was the busiest patchworkshop so far. Kathrin from Manchester came for the day and helped to draw out the patchwork design on a white sheet. We then transfered all the patches from the wall onto the sheet. So at last we have a portable patchwork. Richard finally got round to embroidering his patch which is the most glamourous of them all! Tony Kemplen popped into drop off his pink parrot patch, and stayed to make another. We celebrated Lisa's birthday with cake and candels, and generally ate too many biscuits.Tricia from the patchwork garden described some of the different ways in which patchwork quilts are made collectively - and showed us some beautiful examples. She explained that older quilts kept the paper in the back of the patchwork as an extra thermal layer. At the moment we're planning to keep the paper on the back of the Html quilt - but it might fall out when we take some of the tacking out. There's still a good 50 patches to make - so I'm hoping to run some workshops here in Newcastle after christmas. In the meantime - if anyone would like to make a patch do get in touch and I can send you the fabric swatch of your choice.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Patching Press and Pressing Patches

The Html Patchwork project is gaining both patchworker and press attention. There was an article in the Metro newspaper, UK, on September 6th, 2007; and this week there's an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, in New York State. Fellow bloggers in Germany, Sweden, Australia, America, and around the world are also linking to In Sheffield, Jo from Art Through Textiles has found some great fabric colours, and the group are making beautiful patches which are being added to the design wall day by day.

After many people's suggestions - I have finally updated all the namechecks on the patchwiki - so that when you scroll over the image of the patchwork, the name of each patchworker is displayed. I've also added photos of patches by Billy, Alison, Julian, and Elizabeth.

There are still 30 outstanding patches which people have pledged to make and post to Access Space, 1 Sidney St, Sheffield, S1 4RG UK by 5th November 2007. So if you still have a patch on the shelf - it would be great if you could get it completed - or let me know that you cant make it - and we'll give the fabric to someone else. Then there are about another 40 fabrics to left to source - so feel free to browse the wiki and stake your claim on a patch.

Now that we are starting to sew the patches together the need for plain cotton fabrics is becoming clear. There's a lot of tweaking going on to make them all fit together - so you don't need to iron your patch, as we might need to fold, or unfold it a few millimeters anyway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Design Wall

Here's the design wall at Access Space with all the current patches. Clare Ruddock has used gold thread to embroider the Access Space logo on the center patch.

Make a Diff

Julian Priest's patch is number 009933, and he has embroidered the words 'Make a Diff'. A Diff is a software patch - the process of comparing 2 files, and creating a patch file to reconcile the difference. He stitched his patch at the Getty Museum in LA, and posted it to Access Space inside a 3D card of the Museum (see photo).

You can read Julian's brilliant posting on how to make a software patch on the Html Patchwork Wiki

Or you can click directly onto his patch 009933

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gathering Patches

Here's a selection of the Banff patches. This week we're putting up the Open Source Embroidery Exhibition at Access Space, ready for the opening on Friday. As usual there seems to be too much to do in four days, but we'll get there. In the meantime patches are being posted from around the world.

I'm really looking forward to meeting the Totley Quilters in Sheffield this evening. If you're in Sheffield, or passing through over the next couple of months do pop in and have a look at the Html Patchwork design wall. It will be on display until November 10th 2007.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Get Your Rabbits Mated Before Christmas

One night in Props Bar at the Banff Center Giles Askham explained how to translate RGB (Red Green Blue) into CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black White) colours. Here's a picture of his drawing. Apparently I'm not allowed to repeat the story about the rabbits - so you have to work it out for yourself!

Here's the html codes for the CMYK colours:
Cyan = 00FFFF
Magenta = FF00FF
Yellow = FFFF00
Black = 000000
White = FFFFFF

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Html Patchworking at Interactive Screen

After a short presentation about Open Source Embroidery, a group of people participating in Interactive Screen got down to some serious freestyle embroidery: in the lounge, in the bar, in the conference room, on the lawn, and in bedrooms. There are about 20 completed patches, and another 10 in progress.

There are some rich personal stories emerging from the patches - see 999933 and 330033. Thanks to the Interactive Screen patchworkers: Genevieve, Sophie, Cam, Stuart, Damien, Julian, Shelia, Aleesa, Celine, Hoda, Keith, Brian, Caitlin, Emilie, Melissa, Diana, Sarain, Susan, JB, Cherry, Kerry, Kim, Patrick, David, Wednesday.

Patchwork preparation in Banff

Lindsay and I raided the scraps boxes in the costume department and found about 25 new colours. I then had to code each fabric, iron it, and edit out the duplicate colours. Ruth and Marc popped round to my room for a cup of tea, and Ruth made a start on the Furtherfield patch.

Interactive Screen is a really intensive conference and workshop programme, and we're all exhausted from absorbing so much information. I think patchworking will be a welcome tangible project.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Revolutionary Knitting Circle

Alberta has its own 'Revolutionary Knitting Circle' based in Calgary. The group has a great manifesto outlining its political commitment:
"We hold that all communities should have the means necessary to meet every essential need of their own people. To that end, the Revolutionary Knitting Circle calls upon people everywhere to take up the struggle through the tools of local production. We shall bring forth not only our voices raised for global justice, but we shall rise together, with the tools to liberate local communities from the shackles of global corporatism."

Have a look at their site
Do you think they are instrumentalising knitting for political ends? Or is there really a sustainable alternative economy at work?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

User Friendly is not enough!

Tomorrow morning I'm going to the Banff Centre in Canada to help run an event called 'Interactive Screen: User Friendly is not Enough!' Among other things, I'll be facilitating an Html Patchworkshop for up to 50 people. I've got 18 patches with me, and hope to find some more fabric in the Banff Centre costume department...

I agree that being 'user friendly is not enough' but what more is required? Who defines content, and who owns it? In short - how can participation lead to collaboration? All questions I am trying to explore through the Open Source Embroidery project.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Radical Cross Stitch and Normal Flora

Check out the Radical Cross Stitch website - I've added the link in the right hand column. I hope we'll soon be having patches from Australia... I met Rayner through the Open Source Embroidery Group on Facebook. The group now has 34 members including Anna Dumitriu who writes:

"Very interesting work, like it very much. Myself I previously been weaving 16 bit binary code on a self constructed card loom which is linked to similar themes. I currently work with microbiological forms and often use embroidery and am artist in residence at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex Uni.."

Anna's website Normal Flora, and her residency blog are listed in the links on the right.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Access Space patchworkers

Here is everyone at Access Space busy working on their patches on Saturday 28th July. Clare Ruddock came down from Newcastle for the day. She brought the patches made at the DAAMN residency at Glue Gallery, and added them to the design wall. It's looking good!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Open Source Purple Beer!

The Html Patchwork Wiki is up and running, and people are starting to add their stories about their patch. Check out #660066 for musings on the relationship between the colour purple, beer and open source. Html Patchwiki

New Patches

Here's Harriet and Jim making their patches at Access Space in Sheffield. The website is now up and running. So you can check out who's doing which patch and add your own details: Open Source Embroidery

Friday, July 27, 2007

Date for your diary

It's been a busy week here at Access Space with lots of stitching. We've had visits from the Stocksbridge Knit and Chatters, and Art into Textiles, who have lots of ideas of how to make some of the harder to find fabric colours. Here's a photo of the notice board in the foyer of Access Space - we've got lots of lovely fabric swatches from Fine Fabrics in Hillsbrough.

You can pop into Access Space anytime (tues-sat 11am - 7pm) to pick up a swatch and template, until the end of July. Access Space will open again in September. The Open Source Embroidery exhibition will open here on Friday 7th September 5.30 - 8pm. Bring your patches along with you!

Monday, July 23, 2007

This week I'm working with Keith on the project website, including the Html patchwork online.. fingers crossed that we get it up and running before Friday.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


A massive thank you to Kurt, who has created a step by step guide on how to contribute to the Html Colour Patchwork. It took a while to get all the picture right, but the hard work paid off when we discovered there were over 800 hits over the first few days!

See the link listed in the right column this blog.

There are lots to 'Top Tips' that we are learning as we go along, such as:
- When you pin and tac concentrate on securing the corners of the hexagon...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fabric Shopping

It took Lisa and I a while to find a friendly fabric shop that was happy to give us fabric samples. Finally, the wonderful staff at the Fabric Warehouse in Sheffield were supportive of the project. They were happy to cut 15cm square samples from their bolts of fabric, and let us rummage through the remnants to our hearts content!

We now have 24 new colour patches to add to the 40, only 172 left to go...

Patchworking at Access Space

If you're in Sheffield come along to the meetings at Access Space:

Wed July 25th 6-7pm
Sat 28th, 2-5pm

Or drop in anytime to pick up fabric, template and work out your colour code. The meetings are very informal with a chance to chat about what you are doing and find out more about the Html patchwork and Open Source Embroidery.

There will be monthly Html Patchwork group meetings at Access Space from September to sew together the patches and create the final patchwork which can then be exhibited.

Sat 8th September 2-4pm
Sat 6th October 2-4pm
Sat 10th November 2-4pm

I've made a patchwork design wall in the lobby Access Space. There's a full scale template for the patchwork, the html colour mouse-mat, fabric samples, embroidery threads and paper hexagon templates. If you have a new fabric - pop in and add a sticker to the mouse mat. And when you are done - add your patch directly to the wall.

Electronic Embroidery

Keith and Jake transform a homemade synthesizer into an electronic embroidery. Beading wire is threaded through the t-shirt(an embroidery hoop helps) and the ends connected to the synthesizer pressure points (use sellotape to keep them in place). The embroidery is then played by touching the embroidery.... Wearable technologies here we come!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Colour and the missing yellows


At the Html Patchwork meeting at Access Space we had an interesting conversation about colour. There are lots of reasons why screen colours can't be accurately matched with fabric colours. Obviously colours on screen are lit by the light behind the screen, rather than light reflecting off them, so they have a luminescence impossible to replicate with an opaque material. But there's also a particular characteristic of the red/green/blue (RGB) mix that is a bit odd. This is something to do with the fact that Green is not a primary or pure colour. So the hexidecimal colour pure green 00FF00 is what James described as a gamut colour. There's lots more info on wikipedia if you search for 'gamut'.

There also seems to be a general lack of yellow in the world. Lisa spotted the limited yellow colour range on our patchwork design, whilst Tricia at the Patchwork Garden tells me there are few yellow fabric's. Can anyone offer a reason why? Is it due to the influence of RGB without yellow as a mixer colour?

In the meantime Keith and Jake have been busy creating embroidered electrical circuits through their clothing.. wired up to a rather curious beetle synthesizer - and it works! photos to follow.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hexidecimal Colour Patchworking

This is a fab hexagonal mouse mat which we love - and have ordered 8 of them from Visibone to inspire us to make patches... The finished fabric embroidered patchwork will be over 2 meters wide, and will be able to be exhibited at quilt, art and technology exhibitions.

What's it all about?
The html patchwork project aims to visualise the hexidecimal web colour palette., consisting of 216 colours and their six figure unique identification codes. You are invited to contribute to the patchwork by creating fabric patches embroidered with their code (for example, white is FFFFFF).

How to make your patches:
Create paper hexagon templates with a 6cm diameter. You can draw your own hexagon - using a compass and a straight edge, see For a step by step guide see:
Alternatively you can: make a template in Word (Insert / Picture / Autoshapes); pick up template from Access Space; or print out from the Open Source Embroidery google group files.

Choose your fabric:
Patchwork traditionally recycles old fabric into new. It's simplest to use cotton fabric in plain colours, then you can match it against the html colour code on the mouse mat image. Check on the Fabric Patches Log on the link listed in the righthand column of this blog. If someone is already making your colour code, and try and find another fabric swatch. Then email Ele the colour code you are embroidering.

• Use chalk or pencil to lightly draw around your template on the fabric.
• Cut your fabric so that there is a 1cm overlap around your template.
• Embroider the hexidecimal code onto the patch.
• Embroider your own signature, website, blog, or shop name onto the patch.
• Pin and tac the fabric to the template.
• Take a digital photo of your patch.
• Repeat with other colours.

You can create a cluster of patches and sew them together. Or create individual patches and bring / post them to Access Space by July 25th 2007.

Please don't forget to email Ele with your html colour codes and digital photos ( and I'll add them to the Google docs list which everyone can view online. Access Space is developing an online map of the patchwork so that people can log the colours they are using directly on a diagram of the patchwork. We hope to make the patchwork an online artwork with direct links to the photos and / or websites of people who have made the individual patches.

Apparently the double sets of figures can be represented by one figure as a form of short hand. So CCFF99 can be written as CF9. So if you've not much time to embroider the whole text - use the shorthand.

Sheffield Knitting Groups

What a wonderful weekend - I was warmly welcomed by the Stocksbridge Knit and Chat group who were really enthusiastic about contributing to the html patchwork and have incorporated the hexagon into the design of their new 'Chat' page. (I've added the link to this blog).

I also had a lovely cuppa with a group of knittings pals in Sheffield. They meet informally at each others houses. Only a fraction of knitters are online - which shows what a massive activity it is. Hopefully the patchwork will provide an opportunity for people from the different groups in Sheffield to meet each other.

Programmers at Access Space have also been busy over the weekend. James has developed the code to generate the patchwork template. Keith is working out how to make this interactive so that people can show which patches they are working on. At the moment we are planning to link each patch to a wiki page that people can upload their photos and links to. But it's not as simple as it sounds.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Today is a good place to start. It is afterall Sunday, the weekend. I've been updating the Open Source Embroidery mailing lists, html colour code and fabric lists.

What am I on about?
I've been developing the idea of Open Source Embroidery (OSE) for a couple of years now. It's really an umbrella term bringing together works on and offline by a number of artists, programmers and craftspeople. You can read about OSE on my website, and in an interview I gave with Jess Laccetti for Furtherfield.

During July I am artist in residence at Access Space in Sheffield. I proposed to work with programmers and craftspeople to develop shared projects. In reality this is quite tricky. The Connecting Principle event brought together people who (mostly) already had an interdisciplinary practice. But how do you talk about open source to someone who doesn't use a computer? Or describe embroidery to someone who has never picked up a needle and thread? It seemed like a good idea to have a clear practical focus to give some shape and meaning to the early conversations.

After chatting with Lisa in Sheffield, we came up with the idea of an Open Source Patchwork. I scratched my head - What would an open source patchwork look like? Clare, in Newcastle, had the perfect project - a patchwork of html colours, based on the hexidecimal codes. The next step was to structure a development process where lots of people could take part, both on and offline.