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Stitching Together: Participatory textile making as an emerging methodological approach to research

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Arising from a recently formed research network, Stitching Together, this article introduces a collection of case studies that critically examine participatory textile making as an emerging methodological approach to research. The twenty-first-century resurgence of interest in textile processes such as knitting, sewing and weaving, whether as individual practice or community-based initiative, builds on a long and culturally diverse history of collaborative textile-making activity. This resurgence, combined with the familiarity, accessibility and flexibility of textile practices, has influenced a recent growth in the use of such activities as a means of inquiry within diverse research contexts. The article considers the ways in which collective textile-making projects privilege social encounter as a format for learning skills, creating friendships and consolidating shared interests. It goes on to discuss how researchers are drawing on these characteristics when devising new projects, highlighting the quality of experience afforded by textile making, the diverse forms of data generated and the variety of ways in which these participatory activities can be set up. Recognizing that this research approach is far from straightforward, three key methodological themes are then considered: the multifaceted nature of the researcher’s role and the complexities of relationships with participants and other stakeholders; the difficulties that can arise when using such familiar textile processes; and the opportunities, and complexities, of co-producing knowledge with participants through collaborative textile activity.
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Keywords: co-producing knowledge; craft; knitting; participatory textile making; research methodology; sewing; textiles

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000103140998Arts University Bournemouth 2: 0000000107270669Nottingham Trent University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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