Today’s Woolness Words post features the fantastic introduction from Lisa Anne Auerbach’s highly recommended book, Charted Patterns for SWEATERS THAT TALK BACK. Lisa Anne Auerbach is known for translating bold political statements into fantastically critical and opinionated knitwear. She recasts the simple sweater as a canvas for activism and ideology. We thought this paragraph offers a nice continuation from yesterday’s post about Bioregional learning, and a segue into our focus for this forthcoming week on Woolness & Activism. This post has been illustrated with photos by Felix of Lisa Anne Auerbach’s beautiful sweater that celebrates the pleasures of “darkness” through the medium of yarn from the Norwegian Spelsau sheep. Lisa Anne Auerbach was wearing this sweater in Shetland in 2013 and we took all the photos on St. Ninian’s.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter advised Americans to turn their thermostats down to 65° and to put on a sweater. There is no better illustration of the sweaters’ impact on politics than the 1980 election. No one wanted to wear Mr Roger’s cardigans or clashing neon acrylic plaids, so we turned up the heat and won one for the Gipper. If we’d had better sweaters back then, things could have ended up differently.

It’s time to haul out the sweaters again. Even with melting polar ice caps and snowless ski resorts, it’s nippier than ever out there. Alongside global climate change and the imminent collapse of the energy market come chillier days and frostier homes. Best to keep a sweater on hand, just in case. Be prepared with something warm and cozy: you’ll need it.

The pictures and patterns in this book are suggestions, guidelines and ideas for you to bounce around, re-engineer and re-appropriate into something urgent, exciting and personal. Get publicly disgruntled. Make mischief. Store your nostalgia in mothballs and bring it out every time you feel the chill, reminding yourself and everyone else what drove you to take the needles into your own hands.

[…]

A sweater comes in handy whenever you feel that chill in the air. Sometimes the chill is due to the winds, a sudden gust, a draft, or a blizzard. Other times, the room goes cold when you speak your mind, and suddenly everyone is clutching their drink a little tighter, clenching their teeth a little bit more strongly, and reaching quickly for sweaters and shawls. Continue the conversation with a sweater that talks back.

THIS IS A PATTERN BOOK FOR THOSE WHO USE THEIR BODY AS A BILLBOARD, FOR KNITTERS WHO MIX LANGUAGE WITH YARN, WHO BELIEVE THAT STYLE AND SUBSTANCE ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. THE CHARTED PATTERNS INCLUDE SLOGANS, JOKES, AND POPULAR MOTIFS, TO BE MIXED AND MATCHED, TRANSFORMED AND PERSONALIZED. WEAR WHAT YOU SAY, AND STAY WARM IN YOUR WORDS.

Anne Auerbach, Lisa Charted Patterns for SWEATERS THAT TALK BACK. Printed Matter Inc. 2008.

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