Kate Davies Designs knits #BalanceforBetter blanket to commemorate creative women
Kate Davies Designs (KDD) is a small business with only 6 employees and 2 long-term contractors, but its size does not detract from its firm commitment to gender equality and larger issues of diversity.
As an organisation of keen crafters and committed feminists, KDD felt it would be fun to celebrate International Women's Day through a collaborative, commemorative knitting project.
Previously, KDD signed the Scottish Business Pledge with its commitment to gender equality and fairness - so the business wanted to get together to celebrate IWD in a meaningful and completely non-commercial way that nonetheless complemented its usual business activities of producing books and yarns for hand-knitters.
Celebrating achievements and legacies of inspirational women
This year, the #BalanceforBetter theme gave KDD its inspirational starting point and the idea to use the whole process to educate themselves about a diverse range of other creative women. KDD decided to design 30 blanket squares to honour 30 different women who have inspired each employee in different ways. KDD selected colours, motifs and patterns to reflect the work, achievements and legacy of each woman commemorated in the blanket and, as they researched and knitted each square, employees reflected on their own feminist interests and sources of inspiration.
Sharing stories of creative and pioneering practices
Conceived by Kate Davies and Felicity Ford, KDD's campaign was a truly collaborative project that united employees under a single cause. As employees stitched the blanket squares together in preparation for International Women's Day, they shared the individual women's stories they'd researched, celebrating many different creative and pioneering practices from political activism to sound art, from a Filipina-American rapper to Britain's first black headteacher. Each square in the #BalanceforBetter blanket was designed and hand knitted by employees using the fairisle technique.
KDD revealed the finished blanket during a special IWD 2019 event at its company headquarters.
Creating a educational, commemorative resource
The #BalanceforBetter blanket is a beautiful and meaningful commemorative object that all the members of KDD's company proudly produced together.
Although KDD was prompted to create the blanket to celebrate IWD, unlike a standalone event this blanket will have a long, continuous life as both a commemorative object and an educational resource.
Everyone in the company feels extremely proud of the #BalanceforBetter blanket and everything they've learnt through the process of making it. With pride of place in KDD's office, the blanket is already a familiar talking point for many visitors to the organisation.
In every conversation KDD has about the blanket, the company takes the stories of the women they've celebrated a little further, so that their act of making has become a way of continuously extending their legacies into the future. KDD employees intend to talk more, and share more about the blanket across its industry and community during 2019/20.
They hope that other makers and crafters might build on ideas embodied by the blanket, developing their own collaborative feminist projects, and creating their own commemorative objects for events like International Women's Day.