At a recent poetry tutorial, the tutor told me that I was fortunate to have a specialist vocabulary from my day job (as a librarian / library academic) to inform my poetry, and this got me thinking about specialisms and how they can add something exotic to writing.

Today I received an email from the “Knitting Club” at work, and that reminded me of the hours I used to spend poring over patterns with my mother and grandmother as a child. I was particularly absorbed by my mother’s knitting machine (a more modern and versatile model than the one in the video) and have already referenced winding wool for my Grannie in the Tate’s online anthology.

Winchester School of Art holds the Richard Rutt Collection of books used in his ‘History of hand knitting’. Some of his nineteenth century books are available on the library website. Browse through them to get a feel for the language of knitting, or, if you’re a complete novice, watch this video from cyberseams on the basics.

Three choices of prompts:

* Write a poem about knitting, using the vocabulary of these and other sources

* Write about clothing yourself, whether through handicrafts or shopping

* Write a pattern poem using your own specialist language. A pattern poem is like a recipe poem, except that in the end you have a product. So I might write a pattern for making a book, or a library, or a website, and a plumber might write a pattern for a kitchen sink.

Or, of course, respond to any of the images and digital resources in your own way.

At a recent poetry tutorial, the tutor told me that I was fortunate to have a specialist vocabulary from my day job (as a librarian / library academic) to inform my poetry, and this got me thinking about specialisms and how they can add something exotic to writing.

Today I received an email from the “Knitting Club” at work, and that reminded me of the hours I used to spend poring over patterns with my mother and grandmother as a child. I was particularly absorbed by my mother’s knitting machine (a more modern and versatile model than the one in the video) and have already referenced winding wool for my Grannie in the Tate’s online anthology.

Winchester School of Art holds the Richard Rutt Collection of books used in his ‘History of hand knitting’. Some of his nineteenth century books are available on the library website. Browse through them to get a feel for the language of knitting, or, if you’re a complete novice, watch this video from cyberseams on the basics.

Three choices of prompts:

* Write a poem about knitting, using the vocabulary of these and other sources

* Write about clothing yourself, whether through handicrafts or shopping

* Write a pattern poem using your own specialist language. A pattern poem is like a recipe poem, except that in the end you have a product. So I might write a pattern for making a book, or a library, or a website, and a plumber might write a pattern for a kitchen sink.

Or, of course, respond to any of the images and digital resources in your own way.

Notes:

  1. annewelsh posted this

About:

Writing exercises and prompts based on special collections and their websites.

Originally conceived as a workshop for Essex Poetry Festival 2008.

More background info here.

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