This month we escaped the Summer rain with an evening with Melinda and Trent Burton, some of the brains behind the Cosmic Shambles Network. The evening started with journey through the Science Museum with both felt and flesh versions Prof. Brian Cox and Robin Ince, as they search for Brian’s ‘Wonder’ in web series The Quest for Wonder.
We chatted with Melinda and Trent about trying to use entertainment as a way to communicate science in an enjoyable, accessible way. One of their main aims is to bridge the gap between art and science through podcasts (there were some Book Shambles listeners present), films, and live events. If you’re feeling curious amongst the shambles is something for everyone, and it’s all free. Fans can show their support by donating, going to their live events and spreading the curiosity!
As usual we relieved our members of their spare change and held a raffle in support of our nominated local charity Ella’s Home.
The second half of the meeting challenged us all in the art of deciphering instruction manuals as we built mini spider robots. The concentration (or frustration) was palpable in the room. Not everyone survived, it was the end of a long day afterall! Newcomer Molly however rose to the challenge as the first to complete her fully working robot spider.
Combining craft and care, our June Main Meeting tackled the subject of ethical clothing.
A lot of us do our bit for recycling, and know about how awful landfill is, but when we think of pollution and waste old garms aren’t the first thing to come to mind. Our first speaker Lyla Patel from Traid gave some startling facts. Aside from the time it takes our old clothes to break down in landfill, they still give off methane and lots of other toxic gases. They still contribute to the pollutants in the air we breathe given off by the incinerators just a few miles north of us in Shoreditch. But natural fibers like cotton and viscose are good right? They still have a huge impact on the environment due to the extraordinary amount of resources such as water used in their production. Having doubled the volume of clothes purchased in the past four years, it’s an alarming predicament. So what do we do about it? Lyla put it to us that we should change our disposable mindset to clothing. Taking the time to choose, personally investing in each find, valuing the memories that come with our clothes rather than the brand. And when you’re done, spread the love by donating for second hand sale so someone else can treasure it.
And on that note a perfectly time traid van swung by to pick up donations from this month’s visitors by the sack full.
When then shifted the focus from the environmental to the human cost of clothes and were joined by Thulsi Narayanasamy War On Want. Taken through the shady supply chains, and lack of accountability it is worrying to consider that it is mainly women affected by the poor working conditions within the industry, but also mainly women consuming these goods. And how are we not more aware of it? Thulsi put it to us that the fashion industry is wonderful at PR and we lap it up. We also heard how normal it was for women in some factories to experienced intimidation when trying to organise a platform for themselves, and was considered part of the package by them. It was eye opening to view the subject not just as a labour rights issue, but as a women’s rights issue through the wider frame of patriarchy.
After a thought (and hopefully action) provoking first half of the meeting, we got skilled up in the long lost skill of darning so that we could go away knowing how to breathe new life into old glad rags.
With the Spring all around us, for our April main meeting we decided to arrange something special for our members to nurture ourselves as well as some plant life.
Bridget and Frances of the Meanwile Club joined us for a members exclusive Desktop Garden workshop. The Meanwhile Club’s ethos being to build community through horticultural activities we thought this would be the perfect way for members to get to know each other, whilst making something wonderful to take away by the end!
Equipped with soil and succulents we got stuck in with arranging our plant pots. Not forgetting a key component – decorative dinosaurs!
And of course it wouldn’t be a main meeting without a bumper raffle (raising money for Ella’s Home).
Proudly clutching our very own terrariums, there was a satisfying sense of achievement by the end of the meeting.
The Meanwhile Club can be found on the last Thursday of every month on Leake Street running their Make Do and Mend Yourself workshops. The Shoreditch Sisters give their seal of approval!
Our March Main Meeting involved a collaboration with Art Macabre for a life drawing class with a twist!
Fueled by the Strongroom‘s W.I meeting meal deal of Poutine, we were ready to recapture the joy and freedom of how we drew as a child!
Our muse for the evening was the mother goddess of destruction Kali (our second meeting involving the theme of goddesses!). Expertly portrayed by Geta Von Tease who had the difficult task of portraying a deity with six arms, she provided several poses for the drawers in the room to replicate this effect. Where was Kali’s infamous belt fashioned from the heads of men? Alas, we had to turn to our imagination for that, although we didn’t have to dig too deep for inspiration given current world politics…
Art Macabre warmed the room up for the activity by asking us to first draw Geeta without looking at the page. Trusting our instincts was the aim. Another approach was to work together on a joint drawing, taking it in turns to hold the pencil together and guide our partner through the image.
To finish our very own Committee Member Katie Pepper posed as the defeated Shiva!
Our February main meeting saw us at our brand new venue at The Strongroom, and hour Social Hour before the meeting proved a hit. We look forward to an exciting year ahead here.
Master Cake Maker Linda spreads the love with her delightful creations
This month’s main meeting Dr Helen Johnson helped us fall madly and deeply in love with ourselves for this Valentine’s day! We Humans have been spinning yarns since the beginning of time, and one of the reasons we love to tell stories and myths of a bygone age still remain in our consciousness is because it helps make sense of ourselves and the world around us.
Too often we ‘typecast’ ourselves and get stuck in patterns of behaviour. Helen uses the archetypes of Greek Goddesses as a tool to explore and embrace our strengths, and to find other parts of ourselves we’ve neglected. As she talked through the different Goddesses emphatic nods of recognition, and laughter at being “that person” filled the room.
And then a first in the history of the Shoreditch Sisters W.I (possibly any W.I meeting ever?!), Dr. Johnson guided us through a meditation! This was definitely the most chilled and reflective meeting we’ve ever had.
To end we were collectively talked through Emotional Freedom Technique (E.F.T or “Tapping”). A technique to de-stress and re-energise this basically allows you to air that little critic in the back of your mind to free yourself up.
To find out more about Dr. Helen Johnson’s work and find out who your inner Goddess is head over to her website: Goddess Acumen
It’s not finished yet
January’s Knit and Natter will focus on the East London Yarn Triangle (Fabrications, Broadway Market; Wild and Woolly, Lower Clapton Road; Knit with Attitude, Stoke Newington High St Keep Hackney Warm This Winter initiative. They are looking for cosy scarves which will get passed on to rough sleepers in Hackney.
The East London Yarn Triangle is four-and-a-bit miles, which is about 466 scarves. Their aim is to get as many knitters as possible involved and collect 466 scarves! The scarves can be knitted from any yarn with whatever stitch pattern you want. They recommend casting on for a width of about 25 cm and knitting a 150cm length.
Every East London Yarn Triangle shop will also be acting as a yarn exchange where knitters with extra yarn can drop it off, and knitters in need of some more can come and pick it up.
Once you’ve knitted your scarf, drop it off at any one of the shops and they will make sure it gets passed on to a rough sleeper. You can also bring any you have knitted along to January’s Knit and Natter and we will arrange a drop off of what we’ve got.
If you’ve never knitted before this is a great way to get started! Scarves are very easy to do and this is for a great cause. We will have experienced knitters on hand who can teach you how to knit. We’ll even have some yarn and needles on hand if you’ve not been able to pick up your own supplies.
If you’d like to get yourself some supplies, we recommend checking out the shops of the East London Yarn Triangle: Fabrications on Broadway Market; Knit with Attitude on Stoke Newington High Street and Wild and Wooly on Lower Clapton Road.
January’s Knit and Natter will take place on the 24th of January 2017 from 6.30pm at Leon in Spitalfields market. This event is open to non-members too, so feel free to come along!
It may still feel too early for festivities, but no one enjoys panicking up and down the aisles of Boots on Christmas eve grabbing whatever’s left in the 3for2 section hoping that’ll do. So for our November meeting crafty Committee member Louise guided us through some gift and decoration ideas for the month ahead.
Loaded up with some seasonally apt cake made by fellow Shoreditch Sister Linda,we were good to go.
Getting crafty is something that comes more easily to some than others, and can run the risk of leaving you feeling “mugged” off. But equipped with nothing but a blank ceramic and Sharpies, (and maybe the odd smartphone for Pinspiration), creativity was aplenty with wonderful results.
Now that we had gifts to put under the tree, we needed something to put on it, and this W.I were redefining the vajaazzle with felt, bells, and shiny ribbons!