Kate Just on knitting and feminism
We caught up with feminist artist Kate Just to explore the personal narratives and political themes in her knitting projects, including her work in the Library's new exhibition Handmade Universe: From craft to code and the spaces between.
One panel of Kate's epic knitted artwork, Anonymous was a woman, is on display in the Handmade Universe exhibition and honours the time and labour involved in work typically done by women. Each panel is made from over 17,000 stitches and 25 hours of labour.
'Anonymous was a woman' comes from a line on women's authorship in Virginia Wolf's feminist essay A room of one's own, published in 1929. Kate quoted the phrase to acknowledge the forgotten women throughout history. But she also recognised an empowering message for today: the word 'was' can become a reality if women's contributions to culture and society are no longer excluded or downplayed.
See Kate's responses to our questions below.
Q: What advice would you provide to someone wanting to start a craft?
A: Start with the basics and find a real-life person or a good YouTube video to get you started! My mum taught me to knit, and then I got help from my mother-in-law. But I have also learned through trial and error and video material online.
Q: During the Library's 'Woolapalooza' event, you will conduct 30-minute craft sessions. What should people expect from the session?
A: The sessions will be a low-key opportunity for crafters and knitters to sit together, knit and get to know each other. We can talk about our lives, our current project and how knitting intersects with feminist and other political themes in the Handmade Universe exhibition and my work. It's not just about me, though. It's about all of us equally as people interested in craft and keen to enjoy it socially.
I like creating these sessions to bring greater visibility to craft and to make explicitly the ways that craft promotes personal agency, self-expression, social connection, and political change.
Q: What has been your proudest creation, and why?
A: I honestly love everything I do, in the sense that each thing I have made is part of a process I have absolutely poured my heart, soul and mind into. Every piece is connected to an important time and experience in my life, and like children, I appreciate each work as unique and love them all equally!
Q: What artwork are you most excited to view in the Handmade Universe exhibition?
A: Sarah Spencer's machine knitted star map! I expect it will be out of this world (literally!).
Q: Finally, what do you like most about knitting?
A: I love that it gives me time and space for myself, is reflective, meditative, and tied to generations of women's work, love, care, and labour.