My masterpiece

As I occasionally mention, I am currently working to achieve my Diploma in Advanced Permaculture Design. I am compiling a portfolio of ten designs based around the ethics (people care, earth care and sharing the surplus) and principles (look here if you want to know what they are) of permaculture. For me, it’s all about creating a more sustainable life. I have completed the first five of the designs and these have been approved and passed by my tutor, so now I’m working on the second half of the portfolio with the intention of completing it around May and accrediting at the UK Permaculture Convergence in London in August 2014. Accreditation involves a final presentation, where the candidate describes their diploma experiences to a group of their peers. Despite it being months away (assuming I pass), I have already started thinking about my presentation.

Those of us working towards a permaculture diploma are called ‘apprentices’ and I have been thinking about the old system of apprenticeship. An apprentice worked for their master for years, eventually ‘graduating’ with the production of a ‘masterpiece’, i.e. an example of their craft that demonstrated mastery of all the skills. There isn’t really an equivalent of a masterpiece in the diploma process (the portfolio itself documents learning) apart, perhaps, from the execution of a really good permaculture design, so I have decided to create my own in the form of a blanket.

My first two squares: the one on the left represents my yarn ethics design; the one on the right came out of a bag of yarn from Freecycle and so represents the permaculture principle 'produce no waste'.

My first two squares: the one on the left represents my yarn ethics design; the one on the right came out, almost complete, of a bag of yarn from Freecycle and so represents the permaculture principle ‘produce no waste’.

Permaculture isn’t about working in isolation – community is an important aspect and so, I’m asking people to contribute a knitted or crocheted square to ‘my masterpiece’. My intention is to produce one square to represent each of my designs and one square for each of the principles and ethics and then add squares from other people who have been part of the journey… which includes you if you want to join in! This blog is actually one of my designs – one that should be improved as time goes on and I implement my plans. So anyone who comments is adding to my diploma journey! In addition, I’ve had people in my learning guild, people I interact with on the permaculture diploma Facebook group and people I do charity work with agree to contribute. It’s quite exciting to think about constructing a joint piece of work like this and I love the idea of having a tangible item that records the help and support that I have had.

So, I’m asking my friends, family and fellow permaculture apprentices to each contribute a single knitted or crocheted square measuring 15 cm (6 inches) that, in some way, represents our relationship or an aspect of permaculture design or sustainability. It could be the yarn or pattern that means something, it could just be the act of making it. The square could be plain or patterned or even have a design sewn onto it. But, I want a record of what each square means, so I’m also asking for a hand-written explanation of the idea behind the square. Then I plan to photograph each square and put the picture in a scrapbook alongside the text as a permanent reminder of all the people who have contributed. What do you think?

So, if my writing has touched any of you lovely people out there in a positive way and you would like to make a square for me, do get in touch… I think this is going to be a lovely project.

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  1. I can make a square! When do you want it for? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Awesome idea. I would be honoured to make a square for your project. What is the deadline?

  3. yep count me in – you know what’ll happen to mine at some point …..

  4. Linda Winn

     /  December 18, 2013

    Another fabulous, creative idea! You make it all so much fun, Jan. So good to re-member how simple and good it is to work together co-operatively and manifest the maxim ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. THANKS for the invitation to join in and be part of this

  5. I’m going to make you a square which represents Australia, the home of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, the parents of permaculture. It’s going to be made from Australian wool, hand dyed, carded and spun, in colours that speak of Australia. It may be fairly wonky – I haven’t either knitted or crocheted for years, and it’ll be plain, but my rationalisation for that is that no ornamentation is needed: form follows function in this case! I once visited David Holmgren’s permaculture home, Melliodora, and it was inspirational:

  6. Love the color choices! ~ Global Jewelry

  7. I’d be glad to contribute a square from Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

  8. Your writing on the blog has been quite inspirational . Things like recipes can be easily done and are great value. Unfortunately your blog can’t make my fingers and brain work in unison to help you with the current project but you know I wish you the very best with it. By the looks of it you’ll be able to blanket the County soon.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Hi David… I have been thinking about my friends who can’t knit or crochet and would like to invite anyone in this situation to contribute something in writing for me to put in the accompanying scrapbook. Ideally, I’d love something handwritten… what do you think?

  9. I would love to join in! :).

  10. I’d love to make a square to send you ๐Ÿ™‚

    A few months ago, my mum sent me a large parcel, filled with a variety of yarns that had been given to her by the charity shop where mum refurbishes used dolls, by making them brand new outfits. She has been doing this for many years, and her dolls are snapped up when put out, as each outfit is totally unique (mum is one of those amazing people who can make up outfits without using a pattern – a really instinctive crocheter) ๐Ÿ™‚

    All of the yarn is donated to the shop, and given to mum to use, but there is always a lot of it too dark to be suitable for a child’s doll and so, with the permission of the charity, I was the recipient of the yarns not used ๐Ÿ™‚

    It would be lovely to contribute a square made from this yarn, as it would then be a truly up-cycled item, which is an idea that I love ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Ann Owen

     /  December 19, 2013

    Wow, twiddling my hook; wondering how to fit ecology, joy, wagging tails, cake and consideration, chickens, snails, laughter and generosity all into a square of 15cm sq??

  12. Ohmigosh! I love this idea! Is it too late to sign up to send a square?

  13. You have been kind – I would be happy to crochet a square for you

  14. I have a square from my pieced project that’s smaller than the rest… So it’s just about right for your masterpiece. I could send it to you since you’re to blame *ahem* I mean you’re the one who inspired the project in the first place. ^_^

  15. Hi Jan, I reached your blog while searching online for a border to crochet on to my half granny triangular shawl. Curiosity lead me to read more about your masterpiece. I want to crochet some squares for your project. Please let me know where to send them.

    • Hi Flo… I’m currently wearing my triangular half-granny square shawl! I am really pleased with the edging that I chose.
      As for contributing to the Masterpiece, I’ll e-mail you my address. Thank you so much for wanting to join in!

  16. I am sorry to have missed this post last year, I would have loved to send you a square for your blanket. I think this is a fantastic idea so if ever you do it again I will definitely be on board.

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