Scarf of the month: June – This is how I make some noise


June_fightingface2Halftime. Well, Scarf of the month has been running half a year now. For me this has been a point to reflect on what has happened so far. I have made 5 items that would have not existed otherwise. I have acted. I have reacted. I have taken time and situations as constraints for my work. I HAVE MADE. I worked with others. I cared for myself. I thought about what happened around me. I am thinking long-term and I am thinking short-term. I MAKE.

I enjoy this project. To me it feels like something that is pushing me forward. I hope I reach others. I MAKE.

For June, for halftime, I worked to address the response I have been given during the year. Most discussion that arose from this project so far have been about the impact of my work. How much impact can knitting a scarf have? What good can it do?

And I decided once and for all that I do not care. Which does not mean that I do not wish to have an impact. Which does not mean that I do any less than my best to get noticed.

But I have decided that knitting is the way to make some noise. Knitting is my grafitti. Knitting is my protest. Knitting is the way I rock.


Not as adventurous, not as impactful, not as heavy metall as other arts and crafts.

But I believe there is a value to this slow approach. I do believe that subtleness can win people over. As well as loudness can at other times. With other people.

My work is derived from reflection, from research and with plenty of time and dedication. Which can scream as loud as guitars. As loud as a chat. It just needs more time to sink in.

So, another good for me to come out of this project has to be that I have come to terms with my choice of craft. For some reason knitting is the thing I am good at. The medium I will get better at. And I will do my bit to use it as a medium for change.

This is how I make some noise.


On struggeling


One of the first projects in art school was a sketchbook project. Task: Create 100 textures. And it nearly broke my neck. In contrast to most of my collegues, who had been on a foundation year, I had never before made a sketchbook. No idea how to go about it. And during this project I felt very much like giving up.

When I struggled it felt far more obvious to me that I do not belong there. I was 10 years older than everyone else in my course. And much more German. And things that came quite natural to everyone else, made no sense to me. So what the hell was I doing at art school?


I had great tutors who pushed me through this project. Who highly encouraged my first tentative steps and broke my anxiety that failure in this would mean failure in everything else.
I struggled along and I made something that hardly looked like a sketchbook at all. But it was an annotated exploration of textures, an exploratory artifact that explored others to stumble through as I did.

Yup, someone had to mark this

Yup, someone had to mark this

I got my fist good mark for this project. And finished the BA. And secured funding for an MA. Which I also finished. With more good marks. Now feeling (most of the times ) that I belong here. That I kind of know what I am doing. That I am a designer. That art school was right for me.

I have been reminded of this for two reasons now. Firstly I met one of the tutors who pushed me through this project. Completely by chance and just because we both do something different at the moment. And she paid me the great compliment that she remembered my work. Because of the struggle. Because it was different. And because it just did not fit just right.

But I am also learning something new at the moment. And I feel I am terrible at it. That I will not be able to push through to the other side where things feel normal again. And I have a great tutor who explains where I struggle and who pushes where I want to give up and who softens the blow when things do not work out.

At this stage it feels good to see that I have pushed through before. That things have been turned around before. To know that it can be good that I do things differently. That things might look odd, but they work – for me and for others.

I had great tutors who helped me through the feeling of doubt and not belonging. Others might not be so lucky. That is my reason to admire the work of Arts Emergency. They provide mentoring and support to enable others to push through. Which I know to be an invaluable help. Help I hope to give to others at some time.

This post is an encouragement for me. But also for you. Pay a compliment, when you see someone struggle. It can go a long way. Help someone to start something. Break down an undoable task into smething possible. A first step. Because we all struggle and doubt at one point or the other. And good will come out of it.

On making a thing


As a knitter I am used to making, used to see something grow, used to finish, have and own something. I know that this is a very rewarding process.


Feeling like Iron Man, while exploring suitable settings for heartrate sensors.

I also do some digital work. Playing around with the Arduino (teaching it to knit at the moment), exploring wearable technologies and making interactive cards. Even though I am interested in the concepts I work with and the problems I aim to solve, the work generally is less satisfying. Somehow I have not yet learned to own digital work, somehow shoving pixels around does not seem to be as worthwhile (to me!) as knitting.

One can argue that working digitally and connect over the internet has a much wider impact than sitting at home and making a scarf. Which is true. But there is a but. Seeing, holding, experiencing something often makes a bigger impact than reading a blog post. Understanding that someone has given a lot of time, love and effort to make a thing often makes a difference.

There is something about the physicality of objects that makes me identify with them more. Makes me engage more.

This was the reasoning why I made my first zine. I have been reading, writing and thinking about dementia and art for a long time and thought about setting up a new blog. It is something I feel confident about, enjoy doing and do quite quickly at the moment.


But I wanted something happier for this project. Something more surprising. For me and for others. More colourful, more tangible. And so I set about making a zine. I spoke to people about their work. I involved others. I printed. I folded. I make colourful envelopes and send stuff around.
I am sure I will have made mistakes. This is the first time I have done a project like this and I am sure things can be better. But I am happy I made it and I have already been told that it makes others happy as well.

The first issue of DementiArt comes in a limited edition of 100 copies. Yes, you will be able to read everything online later this summer. Or get a piece that is truely yours. If you would like a nice surprise in your or someone elses mailbox, get in touch and I send a copy out. Because I have made something. And I want it to make an impact. It cannot reach as many people as a homepage can. But hopefully it will be less likely to be skimmed over. Squeezed in between emails and back to work.



DementiArt Zine

art, dementia, design

Since about two and a half years now, I research and design around dementia. And I got annoyed by seeing the same images over and over again. Black and White images of people with grey hair looking up thankfully to carers who have the hand on their shoulders. Heads with missing puzzle pieces, misted over by smoke, erased. I find this repetition annoying and see the danger that people might disengage with the important topic of dementia. Even though most images are made to appeal to your emotional side, the repetition may lead to a familiarisation and the “seen-it-before” effect.
I am also concerned about the way in which people living with dementia are portrayed as passive, how the focus is on what is lost, rather than what is possible and what impact this has on people who are newly diagnosed. Most people I know who live with dementia explain that it does have an incredible impact on their life – but it does not rule over them. People who have been diagnosed early, who have time to come to terms with the diagnosis, often have an active lifestyle, life independently, make decisions and search for and accept help only in situations where it is needed. Living with dementia means things become harder, need more organisation, more planning, but it does not mean life stops. It does not mean that people are not able to do many things they have enjoyed all their life and will try out others. The black and white images I see do not represent this lifestyle – and I am fed up with seeing so many of them.

Dementi A rt 001 title

At the height of this annoyance, I sent out this call to get in touch with people who make art around dementia – and got great responses. I got in touch with people making art to engage others, engage others to make art and making art about their own experiences. Colourful artworks, new and personal imagery and strong words have made their way into this issue. After some time of curating, writing and editing, I can finally reveal that the idea has now become true. 100 copies of the first DementiArt are ready to be send.

DementiArt_finishIn this issue you can read

  • about Jenni Dutton and her beautifully crafted Dementia Darnings
  • a poem by Tommy Dunne who talks about his life living with dementia
  • how Chloe Johnston makes the everyday experience of living with dementia tangible
  • how Make-time bring art workshops into carehomes
  • a resource by 3SpiritUK that tells us all the good music can do in dementia care
  • thoughts and images of mine.

The first 50 issues also have a little surprise in them. Interested? To get your FREE copy of DementiArt drop me a line on DementiArt{at)brifrischu[dot}de or contact me @brifrischu.


Scarf of the month: May – Freedom of Information



Privacy is an impervious jungle of things we want to share, data people take from you and subtle changes in behaviour. It is a topic complex to discuss. What is actually possible? Where is the line between being concerned and folding your first tin foil hat?

But the lack of discussion makes me nervous. The hesitance of people to engage in this topic and try to untangle it to learn what is actually happening makes me nervous. I can not shed much light on what is possible at the moment. I am still groping my way through this topic to find out where I stand and what is important to me.

May_fulBut I did what I do best and went away to make a conversation starter. The ‘Scarf of the Month’ for May is my attempt to get a discussion going.

I am not as concerned that someone might spy on my data as I am about the idea of being spied on. I do not have anything to hide. I consider myself to be completely average. But I somethimes google things I do not want others to know about. Because of embarrassment. Or because I feel that might get me into trouble. What if an alarm goes on somewhere because of the DIY stuff I research and the position of government buildings I looked up earlier for sightseeing? If I read a lot of leftist blogs and independent newspapers will that be noticed? What if I join campagners such as digitalcourage? All questions I have discussed with others recently that are fuelled by the feeling of knowing a bit, but not enough and feeling the possibility to be observed at times. In his TED talk, Glenn Greenwald – one of the journalists involved in pulishing the documents Edward Snowden provided – gives a good overview why it is important to feel free to research and pursue your interests online, even if you have nothing to hide. It is not only something that affects criminals and terrorists. It affects everyone.

Another spin on this topic comes from John Oliver. He went to Moscow to interview Edward Snowden. And talked about dick-pics. Cleverly he turns ‘data’ into something we can relate to. Data which is not harmful, but not open for all eyes. Data you want someone specific to know about but not everyone else. Could be a conversation with your partner, your doctor, your boss. To get information, advice or just for bloody fun.

“The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.”
Edward Snowden

In this scarf I have knitted the words ‘Freedom of Information’ in Fair Isle technique with ‘Top Secret’ stitched onto it. But as the whole topic the text is muddled and clearly quite invisible. Partly because of the muddyness of the topic, but also to work in best protest and punk manner and work quickly, with what is around to show how urgent the topic is. I am concerned about the attempt of governments and big companies to classify as ‘Secret’, of agencies ‘saving’ us the trouble to tell what their work entails and about committies trying to sort out and judge this mess to be secret. It does not feel democratic. And it makes me concerned that it might increase. Freedom of Information is too important a law to be worked around. Forgotten. Covered up.

Knitting a scarf is not enough. But I hope it is the first step for more. And I hops it gets you talking about the topic. And what could be better than knitting a scarf. Do your thing. But do.

Knitting togetherness


Last December I started the ‘Scarf of the month’, a promise to myself to make one scarf each month that was influenced by current events.

The April scarf will not be finished in April. To be honest I have not even started it. Well, not started making it. I know exactly what I want it to be all about. But I run against a wall of sadness with this topic.

I am fed up with protestors in Germany marching against what they call the Islamisation of our society. I am fed up with right-wing politicians trying to scare. I am fed up with refugees drowning because others think them a threat. I want to knit against racism. I want to knit something welcoming against all those who want to close others out. I want to knit something soothing for those who are scared.

And I do not know yet how to do this.

I think it is too important to do something half-hearted. I will be late. But it will be good.


On design and activism


Machwas 067

We have been lucky enough to write about anything that interests us for the dissertation of my BA course, as long as it was somehow visual. As part of Visual Culture Studies, ‘Design, Culture and Context’ gave everyone the opportunity to research the subject their felt passionate about. Or curious. At the time the Occupy Movement had just peaked and protest was spreading everywhere – or at least discussed in all the media. I wrote about the design of protest signs and the use of humour and irony that started to emerge in plenty of signs. More than just making a spectacle of protest, these signs questioned the whole nature of protest – and in my opinion started a much deeper discussion about the nature of protest than many others marching before. In this time I started to work with the slogan ‘This is not a protest’ that I have since stamped on stickers, knitted into sweaters and will soon embroider onto a kitsch image.


When both articles about my protest research and my design work had been accepted to conferences, I wondered for a while where to turn to. In both areas I had open questions, threads that I want to follow up and that I both considered timely and useful. In the end I turned to design again – because I want to make things. But I think for me it is not only about making things, it is more about the question what I can do with things. If things can change the world.Protest_sweater

And this to me is where I have come full circle again. Because in my understanding both activists and designers want to change the world. With different tools, aims and methods, but with an understanding nonetheless that things need to change and that things can be changed. Both share that they are active, outlooking and confident occupations.

I had to be a designer to become an activist. I had to get this understanding that I can change the world before I started not only to complain about things I felt went wrong, but tried to change them instead. And it is something that I have started to see in others around me. Those that write software, craft or design objects, privately or for a job, have more active political interests and try to use this impact to change what they feel is wrong. People who are less limited in their expression are more hesitant. They say ‘Well, its not the way it could be, but what can you do?’

Which is not to say that picking up a creative hobby makes someone change the world. But it makes it more likely to learn how to stand for what one believes in. Once one has made the one piece that is EXACTLY how one wants it to be, it is hard to go back. Accept what is available. Compromise.

This is something I strongly believe in. Something that my design work focuses on. Something my activism focuses on. How can we make it possible for everyone to express themselves? To learn what one has to say? How can we start to learn to understand what everyone is saying? How can we give everyone the power to change the world?

Some fighters I admire for trying to achieve similar goals:

Arts Emergency: Their strong believe that arts education is not a luxury is strongly shared by me. I wasted nearly 10 years of my life because I did not dare to study design and felt it was a ‘risky’ choice. So glad I have done it and I will not go looking back. Support their work with a monthly donation or even by becoming a mentor. I know I will when I go back to the UK.

Craftivist Collective: Believe me, I have tried for this article, but there is no way to make ‘Design’ and ‘Activism’ sound anywhere nearly as sexy as this. As the name suggests, their encourage people to express their protest through craft. Which always asks the question: “What do you have to say?” we get asked that too seldom in or lifes!

Jen Gale: Looking at the everyday choices that can make a difference, Jen actively ecourages change. Not by street protest, but by make-do, mending and making.

Amanda Palmer: For openly encouraging others to make art and to make her struggle public. It is good to know that you are not the first one to go through the doubts, the not-being-taken-seriously, and did I mention the doubts?

Scott Santens: Yup, a bit the odd one out, but Scott strongly advocates for Basic Income, a topic very close to my heart. I personally think that a safety net like this would bring out the creativity in a lot of us. If you could get creative to gain what you want, rather than having to secure what you need.

There are more, there must be. I will add to this list whenever I think I of someone who shouts out until they are hoarse to get people making. Hopefully one day I will join their ranks. I have started shouting. What do you have to say?

Crochet Cube



I love making blankets. They are a great way to recycle yarn ends and jut generally nice to have around. But I have made three last year. And I started to feel a bit like the great-aunt you know who made the one thing over and over again and gave stuff around to all family and everyone in the neighbourhood. I still have the crocheted loo roll cover that our heighbourhood crafter used to make – and give generously.


Trying not to fall into this trap I have tried to make something new with my latest project: to grow into height and not into the width. I have always been fascinated by the opportunities knit and crochet has to grow three-dimensional – and have learned a new way to do this with ‘Crochet Cube’.


Crocheting a new layer into each layer, the cube grows without the need for any seams or filling. I made mine from yarn ends I had laying around but it is possible to make it completely from renewable materials. ‘Crochet Cube’ is handmade and takes a long time to grow and develop. It will be cherished for a long time as well. Because the layers trap air between it, the cushion is very soft and regains shape easily and quickly.


For me ‘Crochet Cube’ has been an excellent opportunity to get on with #OperationDestash. I have turned leftovers into materials to experiment with, to learn with and to innovate with. But I am convinced that ‘Crochet Cube’ also offers opportunities to make sustainable items from renewable yarns – beautiful homeware, made with love, long-living and recycable without leaving a trace at the end of their life.



art, media, social

If you follow this blog regularly, you will have noticed my fight to become more spontaneous, less limited by my doubts and all the thoughts of ‚what could go wrong‘. For about two years – or even longer, I am not sure – I wanted to start to learn an instrument and make music; even more specific, I wanted to play the Ukulele. My father makes music for as long as I can remember and so do many of my friends, but I never got round to do it. I carried this wish around with me for this long, spending a lot of time thinking about it and regretting that it had not happened. Oh well, I do not have time to learn an instrument anyway. But as the talk by Rohan Gunatillake at Near Now revealed to me, ‘No time’ does not count. It is an excuse not a reason.
So, what were the reasons of keeping me from trying something new? Anxiety? Hell yeah! I have failed learning instruments earlier as I did not have the patience to go through the boring bits before doing my own stuff. But with knitting I have gone there. I know now that I can force myself to go through all the motions and that there will be the point when I manage to do my own thing.

Set in my ways? Hell yeah! A lot of my days follow a routine which is very convenient. But I know I am already unhappy with this as I take on many new projects to break the routine. Learning Italian and Danish, entering drawing competitions and starting to make a zine to push myself to get in touch with others, I know I have the energy to do many more things in my life.

Something has to go? Hell yeah! There is only so much time in the day to fill and I know things will have to go as I squeeze in playing an instrument as well. But the more I come to think about is, the more I recognise that the part to go is the part of me that thinks everything over again and again. Which is what I am looking to do anyway.

So, this Saturday I ventured out and got myself a Ukulele. It is one of the many steps that do not sound like much, but help to make me more the person I want to be. Help me to be the best ME I can become. Who knows, worst thing that can happen is that I throw it away after a year, bored of what I can do. Best that can happen is that one day I will be able to write songs others can relate to. Much of scope. But I a not thinking about them anymore. I am doing something. I will see what can happen.

Right, why am I telling you all this? Partly narcissistic, because I can. Partly to make it more real and to push myself forward. Partly because I hope it will pass on a bit of my motivation and make you try out something new. I have been hesitant to acknowledge to myself that I can make things and that I can make a change for a long time. But now that I have gone there, I never want to go back. And like a reformed Believer I want to make this happen for others as well. And this is how I start. One Ukulele at a time :-)

Scarf of the month: March – Storyteller

art, crochet, dementia, knitting, social

This month I worked on #OperationDestash, by turning my purple leftovers into a #knitamileagainstcancer scarf. Posted this week already, this was a nice little feel-good project, that I hope does some good along its way.

The thing that really got to me this month was the death of Terry Pratchett. I never knew him as a person, but his work has been around me half my life. I must have been around 14 when I picked up ‘Only you can save mankind’, which still has an impact on my life. I went from there to the Nome triology, and not long until I discovered Discworld and was fully hooked. The stories of the Witches, Death and Seargeant Vimes played a huge part in my life since, because they seemed to flow directly from my head onto the page. Comparable to Death’s voice that is rather felt than heard, Discworld characters seemed to think exactly the same way as me – even before I knew I thought this. The lizards that worked drawing machines were as little a surprise to me as ants running Hex or Granny borrowing time until she felt the pain. (If this did not make sense: read the books!)

When the news came out that Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with dementia, I was already researching in this area and had seen how it affected my grandmother. It made me so angry that this important, creative and from all accounts engaged man, should develop this illness. It just showed to me that it hit without any reason, it was not a question of not using ones brain, not a question of having done something wrong.

What I liked about the whole way he had been able to live and write with this illness, is the influence it had on people. For me, and I am sure for thousands of others, he will be the author of Discworld, and not ‘A man with dementia’. It is a fate I wish for all other people with dementia who do not dare to speak out, because DEMENTIA takes over their life and becomes a label they become invisible behind.

March_finalTo honor Pratchett and his amazing talent and skill as a storyteller, I knitted and crocheted the ‘Storyteller’ scarf. It is one of these artifacts that I hope can become anything, can inspire and help to drive a story forwards.

For me it has been bark, shown me a way, turned into a ruffled collar and a couple of things more. Let me know what it is you see in it and drive the story forward!