Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the UK crochet coral reef project

Coral reefs and the UK aren't often mentioned in the same breath (and if, like me, you grew up with frequent dips in the North Sea, then you probably had your breath taken away by the sheer coldness). But, bear with me: this is the KTog's chance to participate in one of the most exciting conservation projects going. On Sunday I went to a workshop at The Royal Festival Hall, with Margaret Wertheim, of The Institute for Figuring, and crocheters from all over the UK and found out more.

The aim is for crocheters--and that's you, even if you've never picked up a hook before since only the most basic stitches are used--to create corals, urchins, sea anemones, sea slugs (and even hitherto undiscovered deep sea life forms)--to make a coral reef to be displayed at The Royal Festival Hall this summer. At the same time a fabulous reef from the US will be on show in The Hayward Gallery. Or, as Wikipedia puts it: "The crochet reef project is an interdisciplinary marriage of geometry, marine ecology, environmental activism, feminine handicraft and collective feminist practice." So it is good to report that Gerard, from I Knit London, was there on Sunday, flying the flag for men with an environmental conscience and love of craft!

What does coral matter to us?
Well, according to Margaret,

we should think of coral reefs as being like "the canary in the coalmine", as an early warning system for disaster. Incidentally, that fabulous sea creature she is displaying was made by someone who went to a workshop in LA, never having crocheted a stitch before. Be warned: this project can become addictive! Coral reefs are being destroyed at 5 times the rate of rainforests. Their decline is largely due to a rise in sea temperature.

At the same time, our oceans are becoming increasingly clogged up with plastic detritus, which is why we're being encouraged to make yarn from plastic bags to use in this project (frankly, anything flexible can be used, packing ribbon looks good, and we were shown some wonderful jellyfish made from a combination of crochet and sliced up plastic bottles.)

You can read much more about the project here. UK contributions will need to be at The Royal Festival Hall by 6 May (I'll be happy to collect them at KTogs) and you'll need to sign a submission form (again, I have a stock of these).

To get you inspired, here's what I've done since hearing Margaret speak:

First, Sunday's work. I'm not sure whether this is a coral

or the beginnings of a jelly fish!

Monday: sea anemones (combining some Lang Mille Colori left over from a scarf with some fluffy stuff that I found at a stash swap).

Today: hyperbolic sea slug, made from some of my handpainted yarn. (This one may not make it to the reef, as it has great potential as a bracelet)
(sorry about my lousy photos, I'll bring these along to KTogs so you can see the real them in reality)

and to get you really inspired, take a look at the blogs of Inga Hamilton and Ildiko Szabo and Helle Jorgenson

Edited to add: "Divebunny" has added this information over on the KTog group on Ravelry:Hi,
I’ve just seen the blog just a quick note. We do have coral in this country and it needs protecting every bit as much as the tropical stuff. (Picture of UK coral pink sea fan http://picasaweb.google.com/emma.kenyon/Penzance_gulfstre...) I’m therefore urging you to sign the petition for marine reserves in this country (http://www.marinereservesnow.org.uk/) and push for a Marine bill (http://www.mcsuk.org/mcsaction/marinebill/marine+bill+-+a...)
Thanks for your time


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