Making A Mark on Preston – June 2017

Last weekend saw the start of Preston City Council’s Summer Events Programme.

Members of the Oxheys Art Collective invited other artists to take part in this event, which aimed to provide a platform for local people to get involved with art in the Harris Museum, learn new skills and generally have fun.

Denise did a smashing job of organising and manned the desk in the Harris foyer – she was often seen printing out the photos people were taking and sending to her via Twitter using the hashtag #MakingAMark. By the end of Saturday, the exhibition board was virtually full!

Gordan did some fascinating chalk drawing outside the Harris, close to Tim who was ‘drawing with clothes’ to create his PerspectiveArt. Robin was also outside and looking very dapper, although Pauline’s yellow dress didn’t work for him.

Evelyn and I stayed warm and dry in the Makerspace. Evelyn helped people felt butterflies and small pieces of work inspired by Andrew Morton’s sketchbook drawings, and I had a few different types of drop spindles and very brightly coloured wool for people to try spinning with.

I was particularly impressed by the woman who couldn’t find the right shade of blue to complete her felting – she came across specifically to spin the shade she needed to felt. Talk about made to order!

The 3D printed spindles were very light and I was able to spin quite fine yarn on them. At the end of the day I sneakily dropped one over the balcony in the Rotunda and watched it twirl and spin its way down to the ground floor as the fibres plied together. I can recommend having someone at the bottom in case it breaks.

It was a fabulous day – enjoy these pictures!

More on the Oxheys website.


#KnitBod 2016

This piece was commissioned by Dr Liz Granger from The Young Scientist Centre at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, and funded by The Physiological Society.

Our brief was to respond creatively to the problem of having too few activities for younger children at The Young Scientist Centre. After a few sketches, we decided on how we could make an interactive body full of things to play with, to help engage young people and be a learning aid. It was an ambitious project, which we decided to share with some victims wonderful volunteers.

The most tedious part was probably knitting the small intestine, which was proper ‘plodding’ knitting and seemed to go on for weeks. We tried to share it around and I took my intestine out to several cafes and soft play areas during school holidays. The most exciting part was undoubtedly seeing the bodies completed.


They even decided to drop into our ‘Woolly Thinking’ exhibition at Oxheys Mill Studios!

I was delighted to be involved in this project. All the volunteers, my family, and I learnt things about how our bodies work. If you want to knit your own body, sign up for the Happy Makes newsletter and you can download the patterns for your school or group – Free! Signup here.

*Caroline Finnigan is an artist with studios at Oxheys Mill Studios, Preston. She teaches knitting, crochet and other crafts, enjoys photographing things from strange angles and lives with dotty 2 cats.

FabLearn Europe 2016

On the 19th June I attended the FabLearn Conference to present workshops for a crowd of international researchers, educators and designers interested in digital fabrication.

The focus of my workshop was to provide a space where educators could come together to learn how to introduce e-textiles in the classroom and to community groups, through stitching the light up bookmarks.

This was useful because I was able to draw on my experience teaching this to the Brownies, meaning I had practical tips to share.

This list would include:

  • Take a magnet – needles get dropped on the floor and they can be difficult to find
  • Needle threaders are essential, as the thread can fray easily.
  • People sew at different speeds, depending on experience.
  • A multimeter is useful, for checking the circuit for faults.
  • Before starting, remind everyone the needles are sharp and should be placed either in a pincushion or on a magnet when not in use.

During lunch and coffee breaks I put on a spinning demonstration, which seemed to confuse some of the delegates until I described the historical link Preston has with textiles. The yarn I was spinning was plied with a conductive thread to make a beautiful yarn suitable for couching or weaving.

This could potentially be used in rugs or carpets, as when the fibres are squashed, the resistance decreases and it is possible to work out where somebody is stood in a room, or perhaps spot a fall.

The demonstrations were popular, and drew extra people in for the afternoon session. Although the kit was intended for bookmarks, it was good to see people changing the theme to suit themselves, and at about 4pm we were treated to a puppet show in German featuring a pirate coder and a footballer (I think). My German stinks so it was rather strange but very enjoyable.


Knitted Body

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Welcome to the Knitted Body Project

This project is run by the University of Central Lancashire and is funded by the Physiological Society.The aim is to create a knitted body which can be taken into schools and used in the Royal Institution Young Scientists’ Centre, to help teach biology and healthy living to children under 7 years old.

After talking to UCLan’s Dr Liz Granger, we decided to create something to play with, which the children can really interact with, so I designed organs with extra functions – a squeaky heart, a ‘thinking cap’ brain, and an intestinal system table tennis balls can be pushed through.

The volunteers who are knitting organs are a lively bunch and there’s plenty of fun. The youngest knitter is 7 year old, having made a piece of ‘skin’ for the outside, and is now in charge of pompoms alveoli  for the lungs.

If you would like to knit your own organs, please get in touch. We will be releasing patterns here shortly. They are very easy to follow and would be perfect for a school craft group to work on together.

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Follow #KnitBod on Twitter and Instagram

Sessions run at In the City, St George’s Shopping Centre, Preston

Mondays 1330 – 1530 and Thursdays 1300 – 1500 until 9th June 2016. No charge, just pop in.


Articles about the project

Lancashire Evening Post Tues 3rd May 2016

Radio Lancashire May 2016