You may remember that last year at KDD, we celebrated International Women’s Day by designing and knitting a commemorative blanket together with our good friend, Felicity Ford. Celebrating 30 diverse creative women, our blanket was created with the central aim of using our crafty skills to educate each other about the many different ways in which women had inspired us, with figures ranging from Britain’s first black headteacher, Beryl Gilroy, to Edinburgh knitting pioneer, Jane Gaugain. The blanket later won a best practice award from International Women’s Day and one of our hopes for the project, moving forward, was that it might inspire other groups and organisations to develop their own similar acts of collective celebration in their own blankets. . . .
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was incredibly moved and excited to hear that the Glasgow School of Law’s craft collective had got together to do just that! Staff, students, and friends of the School of Law (including a wonderful group of knitters in Motherwell) had been inspired by our blanket, and got together to knit up their own squares, celebrating the first 100 women to graduate in law from Glasgow for this year’s International Women’s Day.
The fabulous yarn to knit the blanket was provided by Prof. Lynn Abrams and her colleagues at the University of Glasgow’s Fleece to Fashion project. Spun from the fleeces of sheep raised on the University’s own farm, Cochno wool has been spun to DK weight by the Natural Fibre Company, and is available in four shades that match the University colours. What a great example of cross-disciplinary engagement and enterprise! How many universities manufacture their own yarn?
Each square in the blanket is named for one of the first 100 women to graduate in law, beginning with Madge Easton Anderson, Scotland’s first female solicitor (and Glasgow law graduate) who was only able to practice after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act (1919) finally permitted women to enter the legal profession.
The first 100 women (and 100 squares) are just the beginning of this project, which will grow in several directions (both figuratively and literally) as the knitters take forward their celebrations of the past and future of Scotland’s women in law.
I (and the KDD blanket) were honoured to be invited by Maria Fletcher and Charlie Peevers to an International Women’s Day event today at the University at which their blanket was revealed, alongside other inspiring initiatives that make up the School of Law’s 100 voices for 100 years project, celebrating the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act.
What a privilege to meet, and to listen to, the incredibly elegant and enormously erudite Lady Hazel Cosgrove, Scotland’s first female high court judge!
This very appealing crocheted jacket belongs to Prof. Esin Orucu, one of Glasgow’s “first five” female law professors, whose Turkish name means ‘inspiration’ – how very fitting!
A morning full of interesting conversations, then, and certainly an education for me, as I learned an enormous amount about the very specific obstacles and challenges for women practising and teaching law in Scotland over the past century.
I think what I found most inspiring about the event were the many very different kinds of fun, engaging, creative activities that the School of Law had been able to incorporate into their exploration of a very serious topic: viz – the too-frequently-invisible but deeply important legacy of Scottish women in law. For, as well as their hand-knitted blanket, the school has developed a wide-ranging digital exhibition (including podcasts and text interviews); appointed a young poet in residence (also a graduate from the school of law), and today unveiled a beautiful artwork, a gift from Dana Denis-Smith’s First 100 Years project.
In this piece, a portrait of Madge Easton Anderson becomes a composite of the diverse faces of hundreds of women working in the UK legal professions today. A very beautiful and meaningful way of celebrating the collectivity and solidarity of all contemporary “sisters in law” whilst simultanously acknowledging and honouring women’s important “firsts.”
Thanks for the invite, Charlie and Maria. It was an honour to be there.
Our International Women’s Day blanket
100 Voices for 100 Years digital exhibition – as part of which you can listen to an interview with Lady Cosgrove
First 100 Years
The title of this post is, of course the motto and coat of arms of UK high court judge (and notable ‘enemy of the people’) Lady Hale: women are equal to anything.
Loved blanket, loved artwork, loved your commentary. Feel inspired. All from following links from “Black Teacher” which I have ordered.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What a beautiful blanket. Made me wonder if it was something I missed in a pattern book of yours- have to look. And I love the motto, will have to share.
Slowly, slowly, we are putting more women into positions in the legal profession and the law courts, but need so many more like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor and colleagues. Who still, persist.
Also, North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC, USA (The WolfPack), doesn’t make their own yarn, but they do have the most delicious ice cream and, in season, eggnog, under the name of The Howling Cow.
What a wonderful initiative! thanks for sharing :)
What a lovely story! Thank you!
A wonderful inspiration. And what an incredible composite portrait.
Wow, wow and wow! How amazing it must’ve been to be there! Inspirational.
A great posting for this special day.
I was taken by the crocheted jacket of Prof. Esin Orucu and followed the link you had provided. What inspiring women, mother and daughter. As one of those women who when she left school was unable to go to University (because it would be a waste as she will probably get married,) and in fact had to work part time just to get through high school. The idea of the ‘golden braclet’ put into words why I wanted an education. (I did get married and I got that University education producing a third child during this time, supported by my wonderful husband. )
LikeLiked by 1 person
Also just started Prof Abrams Myth and Maternity years after first having read about it here.
How many wonderful books you have recommended to me.
I was gonna say, that’s a *bitchin’* crochet jacket Lady Hazel is wearing. But I see it graces Prof. Orucu.
Such an interesting project! Thank you for sharing this experience with us.
Well that blew me AWA! Seriously. Such an inspiration you ARE and continue to be. Made me happy!
Kate, I never fail to be amazed how much you inspire and promote women, and of course knitting, in so many diverse ways. Thank you for all your interesting articles, I really enjoy reading them.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What a wonderfully inclusive event in which to be involved. Knitting – blankets – yarn – lawyers. I was absolutely mesmerized by the portrait of Madge Easton Anderson created with the images of women in the legal profession.
The breadth of your interests and enthusiasms is awe-inspiring.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What lovely project! But how sad that it took until 2006 for there to be five female law professors. I wonder what the total is now?
This was incredibly inspiring and exciting! Is it possible to order the yarn? Thank you very much for sharing this with all of us!
Kate, you are a wonder and I enjoy these blog posts very much. Almost as much as I enjoy your books!
Amazing. It’s wonderful to read and see this.