World 124, Exploration A

Newspaper headline about an upcoming Shearing Festival in Hyde Park.
A small piece of knitting on needles with two balls of yarn in natural shades of  brown and beige, alongside squared paper with a knitting chart, drawn in pencil. Hand-written alongside it, a calendar records sheep-related activities: condition checks in September and October; breeding in November; winter feeding for  November through to January, leading up to lambing in the new year. The knitting represents the calendar, with the information encoded in the two-colour pattern.

In World 124, herds of sheep roam free on the streets of London. Their presence is deeply integrated to the life of the city, in all walks of life.

At an early age children learn the shepherding almanac: important knowledge of the jobs to be carried out throughout the year. The abundance of wool has led to the development of a haptic mode of knowledge-keeping, based on knitted stitches.

The knitted calendar (shown here with a translation into diagram format) begins in September, with the sorting of rams and ewes for condition before breeding in October. During the winter months some of the sheep are kept under cover in Finsbury Park, while the hardier breeds continue to roam residential streets. In spring the calendar can be used to record the number of lambs born each month.

Textile making is widespread within the community. The communal knit box contains shared projects that people can contribute to while they wait for a train. Anyone is welcome to take an item when it is finished, free of charge. People enjoy this communal way of creating practical clothing items, alongside the commercial clothing sector.

The array of screenshots gathered here provides further valuable insight into the sheep-centric culture, including:

  • the Evening Standard looking forward to a large-scale Shearing Festival in Hyde Park
  • an email reminder for household flock care duties
  • a map showing the many ‘fleece and prep finish centres’ around the city
  • news about delays on the London Underground due to sheep on the line
  • reviews of a sheep dog-themed café
  • a community meeting discussed the expansion of free grazing
  • an article in the New York Times exposing tensions in London’s wool-centric culture
  • Vogue celebrating the shepherdwear trend
  • interest in commoning, developed through the sharing of grazing rights, spreading into the wider economy – as recognised by the Financial Times
  • academic research into the biodiversity impacts of urban grazing
  • an advertisement for the role of shepherd for the prize-winning Camden borough herds

This Exploration was contributed by Katherine Pogson and a Fashion Fictions contributor (located in the UK), developed from a World contributed by Sarah Kilkenny, using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the authors and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions