Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port. Textile Society of America's 15th Biennial Symposium. Savannah. GA. October 19-23. 2016.


Copyright 2016 by Christine Wiltshier.


This paper investigates a number of journeys discovered within a fisherman’s rib jumper. The thread of each journey was unravelled whilst considering the notion, Could a process of unmaking become a form of making. This question framed a process lead studio research that centred on haptic experimentation. The vehicle chosen to investigate this question was that of the unravelling of a knitted garment. Along side a studio investigation, a number of threads were followed that connect a 1980’s fashion garment with historic coastal fishing economies in the United Kingdom. Connections were also unravelled between the machine construction of the garment and the growth of mass production in 1980’s Britain and between the Australian wool economy and British manufacturing during the 1980’s. The paper will conclude by introducing a number of contemporary artworks that resulted from the studio investigations into the notion, Could a method of unmaking become a form of making? My interest in unmaking arose after many years of managing its regular occurrence in much of my traditional textile handwork. I have explored many different forms of textile hand-making, but the one thing that all the processes shared was, at times, high degrees of frustration, with my regular need to unravel mistakes in my chosen making process. After a series of particularly intense struggles with making then unmaking, I began to consider what might happen if I worked with a process of unmaking, placing it at the centre of my studio research, rather than being frustrated by its presence. The outcomes that follow combine a nine-month journey of both studio and theoretical investigations into unmaking.