Punchcard Economy

Project update – 6 weeks till T&M

Oct 27 2013 · by Sam Meech

As there are only 6 weeks before the Time & Motion exhibition opens at FACT, it’s a good point to take stock of the project so far, and outline the next steps for the banner.

So far, most of the emphasis has been on recruiting contributors – people willing to log their working week. Recently I’ve has seen a decent surge in signups and I’m hoping that continues and more people find out about the project. It’s a bit of a commitment from people to log their hours, but it’s really important for generating the pattern that underpins the final banner design.

Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 17.01.29

Whilst it’s interesting seeing the data collect en-masse, I’ve aslo really enjoyed developing small knitted swatches based on individual data sets. I’m essentially creating simple pattern repeats, but it’s interesting to think that the design has come from someone’s actual working week. So whilst the final swatch may not look a million miles from a generic punchcard pattern found in a knitting magazine, the data it represents makes it inherently personal to the ‘worker’. It’s also been really interesting having contributors contextualise their relationship to work – the posts by Vanessa Bartlett and Ben Dalton give real insight into contemporary ways of working and the problems / benefits that come with this.



The final knitted banner design is slowly beginning to be formed, following the experiments at the project launch as part of the Worker In Progress residency in FACT. Back in September, I developed some initial tests mapping a data set onto a basic banner design, which proved useful in communicating the aim of the project and also testing whether the design would work at a larger scale.


The final design will have to be larger still – I am aiming for something roughly 5 x 3 meters – somewhat daunting, but I’m trying to approach the task by learning the fundamentals of knitting. Each week I have been working with Iris and the NEPHRA knitters to look at the basic. Most recently I have been making tension squares – a method of working out the required stitches and rows for a particular yarn and tension setting. This will help me work out the final design across a series of large knitted ‘strips’, incorporating the data collected at the correct scale.

I will still be collecting working data over the next 3 weeks before the production of the banner begins in earnest.