By | 3 August 2020


My mother knitted and stitched
her self into history
her handwork a primary source
soft proof of a life
the silk nightie French seamed
with an applique neckline
my infant bonnet wedding dress
a fancy laced bib
for my daughter.

I count rows and stitches
knit and purl my way
into this modern history
a turquoise pixie hat
the tiniest pink cardigan in cashmere
and merino a striped blanket
I click clack with inherited needles
a pair matched in size not colour
the rest dormant and disorderly
in their wooden box
with gold hinges and no lid.

A stray hair in the garment
it can stay DNA
in the knit (K)1 purl (P) 1
K 2 together (tog).


The artist* performs her craft
and her benign activism attracts a crowd
she draws the thread from the ball
inside her vagina and resettles
into the rhythm of knitting.

She labours quietly for twenty-eight days
the work is demanding
her attachment to it confining
though at times
the pull of wool arousing.

Her menstrual cycle is
pinked in the textile
a feminine narrative unravelled
her bloodline woven into fabric
the slide of stitches slowed
by the moisture of the yarn

The improbable scarf loops through
floating coathangers in the gallery.

Her performance is filmed
the video goes viral
the public is disgusted
in the knit (K)1 purl (P) 1
it can stay, DNA
K 2 together (tog)
a stray hair in the garment.


My grand maternity materialises
in the knit pink
stitch after stitch slipped
as I cast off.

The seams are sewn
my lips dampen the thread
I press the end
between thumb and index
and pass it through
the eye of the needle.

This soft labour embodies me
creates my daughter and hers
reproduces my mother and hers
our bloodline in the garment
saliva on the yarn, mine
recalls the thread and the artist’s vagina
as she cast off her womb.

My stray hair in the knit one (K1), purl one (P1)
produces a new heirloom
my DNA it can stay
this cardigan my doing and undoing,
me casting off.

Casey Jenkins, Casting off the Womb, performance piece first performed at the Darwin Visual Arts Association (DVAA) from October
to November, 2013.

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