Showing posts with label textile art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label textile art. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Supersized Knitting

I've previously written about a knitter who made her own needles out of PVC pipes and duct tape, but another knitter has taken super-sized knitting to a level beyond even that. When Kait Brink, whose grandmother taught her to knit as a child and who organized a knitting club in her high school, was told to make a large scale version of an ordinary object for a woodworking class in university, she chose to make a large pair of hand laminated knitting needles out of pine planks. And then, of course, she wanted to use them. Even the bulkiest of commercially made yarn won't knit to a gauge large enough for size US228 knitting needles, so Brink makes her own yarn:

I like to take objects that are discarded or unwanted and make them into something desirable again. The blankets are all from The Salvation Army; in good condition but still less than perfect. I wanted to make a yarn that would match the scale of the pine needles I hand carved a few years ago. The blanket yarn is stuffed with all things pliable: newspaper, old or unusable bits of yarn, unused curtains, blankets, old dresses, craft scraps, plastic packaging, etc. Now all these materials are fused together to make a new object come to life.

This video shows Brink and an assistant (because her knitting needles are too heavy for one person to manage alone) knitting. Nine stitches and nine rows of garter stitch and about an hour of knitting that's more like gator wrestling than conventional knitting makes one very heavy blanket.

To learn more about Brink and her work (she also works in other mediums, such as watercolours), you can check out this article on, or visit Kait Brink's own web site.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Cirkus Cirkör's "Knitting Peace"

Cirkus Cirkör, a contemporary Swedish circus company, brings you "Knitting Peace", a stunning ensemble performance that combines acrobatics, dance, music, and yes, knitting, to explore the theme of working through complex and tangled realities to bring about peace. I chose this video as the subject of my Christmas Day post because it seemed to me to be a perfect viewing experience for everyone, regardless of whether one does or does not celebrate Christmas.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Brutal Knitting

If you like knitted art with more than a touch of the horrific and surreal, you might like to check out Brutal Knitting, the work of British Columbia artist Tracy Widdess. Widdess uses obscure sci-fi and horror movies as a source of inspiration, and her specialty is masks that make you wonder a little nervously what the rest of the creature looks like, and where it might be.

Widdess also does some graphic work.

To see more of Tracy Widdess's work, you can check out the Pinterest page and Tumblr of her work, or visit her Brutal Knitting page on Facebook. Widdess's work is available on commission and for exhibition.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Up a Tree, into the Gingerbread House, and Under the Sea

Perhaps you're familiar with the work of knitter and textile artist Alison Murray because you've contributed to one of her projects. After all, her annual projects are so large and ambitious they've come involve the work of hundreds of knitters, not only from her native U.K. but from abroad.

In early 2005 Murray began planning the world's largest knitted Christmas tree as a charity fundraiser. The resulting tree was 25 feet tall and involved the efforts of 700 knitters from all around the U.K., and from ages 4 to 102. Murray's next idea was to knit gingerbread house. This project, which you can see above, was completed and shown in 2007.

The next project, "Above and Below the Waves", was the most ambitious yet and took two years to complete. It has toured the U.K. and money it raises will benefit the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The BBC has a selection of photos, and has more details here.

Murray's current project, which was expected to be completed this past summer, was called "The Big Books" and will involve three large freestanding books, each with a different theme.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Painting with Wool

If you've ever wanted other ways to use wool than to spin and knit with it (and I know you probably haven't, but humour me), you can always check out the work of Scottish artist Jill Harrison for inspiration. Harrison makes art with sheep's wool.

Harrison, who lives on a small farm near Fraserburgh in north east Scotland, uses the wool from her flock of 14 sheep for her artwork. You can see something of her process in the video above and view galleries of her portraits of humans and animals and the rest of her work on her website.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Patricia Waller's Beautiful, Sick Crafts

Anatomically correct aliens. A suicide bomber Sponge Bob Squarepants. Superman splattered against a wall. A teddy bear speared on the horn of a unicorn. A raped Minnie Mouse. Chilean-born, Germany-based artist Patricia Waller's crocheted art pieces are nothing if not a challenge to the viewer's mindset and expectation that at least some of the narratives in this complex and troubled world of ours can be relied on to be simply and comfortingly cute and cuddly.

Waller's work is immaculately crafted from a technical perspective, which almost makes it more chilling, as though it were a meticulously planned massacre.

You can view more of Patricia Waller's work on her website.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Wool Paintings of Cayce Zavaglia

You probably admire the meticulous detail and realism of the painting above. As you should, but it's not technically a painting. It is, strictly speaking, a piece of embroidery. Artist Cayce Zavaglia trained as and was a painter until she got pregnant with her daughter, and consequently decided she no longer wanted to use oil paints because of the turpentine and fumes that inevitably accompany working in oils. Instead, she began "painting" with wool.

Zavaglia initially found it frustrating to no longer be able to just create any shade or tint she wished as one can with paint, and resolved the problem by learning to layer different coloured stitches in order to create the illusion of the specific colours and tones she wanted. Her stitchwork mimics drawing techniques in their direction and layers to create a visual depth, volume and form. Her pieces are entirely hand-stitched, can be as large as 1' x 3', and take as long as six months to complete. She uses a single ply of wool or acrylic yarn, as well as cotton and silk threads, and works mainly on linen.

Zavaglia still considers herself a painter and finds it difficult not to refer to her works as "paintings", but also considers her work an "unabashed nod to the tradition of tapestry and her own love of craft". You can see and learn more of Zavaglia's work on her web site.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Phat Knits

Dutch designer Bauke Knottnerus has created a series of furniture pieces he calls Phat Knits, because what they really are is giant knitted pieces. Phat Knits can be used strictly as art pieces, or as functional rugs or furniture. They mold to the shape of the person lounging or sitting upon them and are reportedly quite comfy.

Phat knits - Bauke Knottnerus from MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp on Vimeo.

You can see the production of one of Knottnerus' pieces in the video above. It takes two PVC pipes and two able-bodied young men to knit one of these pieces and the process seems more like gator wrestling than knitting. I don't know where Knottnerus gets his fibres, but they don't look like anything that would be available at your local yarn shop, and the whole process takes more open space than you probably have in your home. Check out Bauke Knottnerus's web site to see more of his Phat Knits and his work in other mediums.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Knitted Art of Movena Chen

Movana Chen is a Hong Kong-based artist who studied fashion design at the London College of Fashion and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Hong Kong. Since 2004 she has been working in the medium of knitted art, specifically knitting with recycled fibres from old newspapers and magazines. She sees her work as the opposite of book-burning, which is an act of hate and destruction, while her work transforms a communication medium into another form of communication: art objects, and wearable art.

I especially enjoyed Chen's series of photographs depicting her travels around Paris with one of her knitted forms, which showed some Parisians interacting with her work.

You may check out more of Chen's work (she is also quite a good photographer) and read her own thoughts on her work on her website.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Knit Uncensored

The machine-knit piece above, Knit Uncensored, is a 2005 piece by British textile artist Kelly Jenkins, who likes to play against common knitting stereotypes in her work.

Knit Chatlines is another of her knitted pieces from 2005. Jenkins creates the images for these afghan-sized pieces on a computer, machines knits them, and then hand-embroiders the finishing touches. You can see more of Kelly Jenkins' knitted art here, and see the other works in her portfolio and learn more about Jenkins on her website.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Who Has Seen the Wind Knit?

Dutch designer Merel Karhof's work focuses on new ways to harness the power of the wind and sun to create things. In the video above, we see how she uses windmill power to make the stools, benches, and chairs you see below. The wood is cut at one local windmill, the pigment used to dye her yarn is ground at another, and the upholstery is produced by her own Wind Knitting Factory.

Designboom has more information on and images of this furniture.

Karhof's Wind Knitting Factory also makes scarves. Each scarf has its own label which tells you in how much time it has been knitted and on which date, and can be purchased via Karhof's website. They do seem like the perfect thing to wear on a windy day.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Knitted Wonderlands

You may have seen the works of Japanese-born, Nova Scotia-based artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam before (I know I've posted some pictures of her work on this blog's Facebook page as shares), without getting a chance to learn more about the artist behind them. Architecture News Daily offers us an excellent interview with Horiuchi MacAdam, who talks about how she came to focus on designing knitted playgrounds for children. She had been questioning the meaning and the value of the work she was doing, and then:

One day I was exhibiting a 3-dimensional open-work textile sculpture I had created in collaboration with a friend. Some children came to the gallery and climbed into it. Suddenly the piece came to life. My eyes were opened. I realized I wanted just such a connection between my work and people alive at this moment in time (not a hundred years from now). I realized I was in fact making works for children. It was an exciting moment for me.

I should say so. Judging from the pictures of her wonderful installations, the Japanese children who are fortunate enough to be able to play in Horiuchi MacAdam's knitted playground are able to have as much fun as they might at Chuck E. Cheese or Disneyland, with the all-important difference that the adults who accompany them or who pass through the park for their own purposes can actually enjoy the visual feast spread before them instead of having to feel like they're enduring some kind of aesthetic hell.

Horiuchi MacAdam at work on a knitted sculpture. Amazingly, her playgrounds are almost entirely handmade, although she does incorporate some mechanically knotted nets.

You can see photos and video of Horiuchi MacAdam's work in the above video, and also visit NetPlayWorks to view more of her work. Until recently, Horiuchi MacAdam's playgrounds had all been installed in Japan, but in 2012 she completed one in a municipal park in Zaragoza, Spain (and yes, it was certified compliant with European safety standards for children's play structures), and she and her husband Charles MacAdam are currently developing projects for Canada and the United States. I'm kind of hoping she does one for Canada. Adults would get to play on it too if they go during school hours or after bedtime, right?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Knitting With Paint

You probably think that the image above is a photo of a detail from a knitted item, but it's not. It's an oil painting. Yes, seriously. Brazilian artist Rogerio Degaki, whose pop art often references formative stages in life, created a series of these paintings, born from childhood memories of being made to wear handmade sweaters that he didn't like lest he hurt the feelings of his mother and aunts who had knitted the sweaters for him. He decided he'd create some knitted patterns he would have liked to wear as a child, and then, because he's not a knitter, render them in paint. And how on earth does he do that? "The surface is divided into rows and columns, in which I distribute the 'knitting stitches,' according to the image I want to paint," Degaki says. "From there, I overlap up to six color layers to compose the background, the stitches and the brightness of wool. It's a bit mathematical and repetitive, but definitely worth it."

You can read more about Degaki's work on My Modern Met and see the rest of this series, as well as his other work, on his web site.

Much as I admire Degaki's paintings, the back story left me wincing. I can only hope the many children upon whom I have foisted knitted items don't feel the same way about the things I have made for them. I don't exactly want to walk into an art gallery someday and see some knitted-related childhood traumas that I induced writ large.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Too Cool Stools

If you like the look of knitted furniture, you might like to take a look at the work of Claire-Anne O'Brien, an Irish textile designer who lives and works in London, and whose furniture designs are basically useable knitted sculptures the visual interest of which will outstrip any couch you could possibly buy.

Of course, as an avid knitter, I'm trying to figure out how they could be replicated. I don't think the average hand-knitter could make an exact copy of these pieces at home because they're at least partly machinery made, but you could probably achieve something along these lines with pre-made furniture legs, a sturdy piece of plywood, and padding. Just be prepared to knit many metres of knitted tubes, because it'll take a lot to create that interlaced effect. If it's too complicated and you don't see your way to laying out, say, €480.00 plus shipping for a Claire-Anne O'Brien stool, you could always stick to making a pouf.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Knitting Imitates Life Forms

If the handcrafted bouquets I posted about yesterday weren't realistic enough for your taste, you might like to check out the work of American artist Tatyana Yanishevsky, whose specializes in knitting and crocheting replicas of items from the natural world. The hibiscus above is one of the pieces from her stunning Knit Garden exhibit.

Yanishevsky's other collections are well worth a look too. Above is the "Cavernous Rage" piece from the Rupture collection of exploding anthers. This exploded anther has an inner red and blue glow that can be switched on and off with a pull cord.

Yanashevsky's other collections are the Human exhibit, which features a knitted heart and lungs rigged with a repeat cycle timer that makes them inflate and deflate, and All Hung Up (aquatic life forms) and Spikes and Spheres (what it says on the tin).

Monday, 29 April 2013

Now Your Off-the-Wall Knitted Efforts Can Go on the Wall

It can require some doing to find some attractive art work to hang on your walls. Original art is very expensive, and inexpensive prints and posters can look chintzy. It's one of those Martha Stewart-type decorating rules that framed personal photos should not go on the walls but should sit on the furniture, and I agree it's a rule that upgrades one's décor, because family photos almost never look really artistic.

But your walls needn't remain bare until you can afford original artwork. One way to go is to expand your ideas as to what constitutes art, because you can hang up anything you like so long as you find it interesting and attractive. The question to ask yourself is, simply, "Do I really enjoy looking at this?" In my front entrance way, I've hung up a wooden checkerboard that my father (a very talented and award-winning woodworker) made for me. A friend of mine has an antique post office window hanging over the couch in her living room, and I've heard of people mounting a large tree branch over their dining room table (they decorate it with lights at Christmas), or mounting and framing collections of small items such as buttons, or making collages out of personal momentoes.

Another option is to make your own art, and don't think that you have to be an accomplished painter, sketch artist, or photographer for this to be an option. If you can make anything beautiful that can conceivably be hung on the wall, go for it. I have a little stained glass butterfly hanging over the doorway in my bathroom, and I'm always surprised by the number of my guests who come out of the bathroom and immediately comment on it. In my front hallway, across from the checkerboard, I have hanging a framed counted cross-stitch of a magnolia that I made. It has approximately 29,000 stitches in it and took me two and a half years to stitch, so I had it professionally framed and hung it by the front door so I could see it every damn day of my life and think, "That's right. TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND STITCHES."

People have been framing needlework such as embroidery and needlepoint for many years, and now crocheting and knitting are getting into the picture. I ran across the picture above on the net a few weeks ago, and was very impressed. Finally, someone found a contemporary use for doilies! The collection looked so sharp I made a mental note to myself to find some comparable shots of framed knitting and write a post about it.

There were fewer examples of framed knitting on the net. Knitting tends to be less purely decorative than doilies are, so it might take a little more imagination to produce a decorative knitting piece, but it can be done. The blogger at Crafty Yuppie made this piece for an art show at work (and had a bit of time convincing her co-workers that knitting could be art), and I thought it quite lovely.

I found this piece, which is about contrasting the colour and texture of the knitting, in the My Mountain Studio shop on Art Fire, and it's striking.

This is a new direction to explore, and I'm sure most knitters could make a beautiful collection of knitted pieces that would suit their homes and become the admiration of all their house guests. You might even have swatches on hand you could hang up by the end of today, or say, a lace scarf that you can't finish because you ran out of yarn, that would be a perfect candidate for framing.

One important factor in knitted art's success is that the pieces should be framed to a professional standard, because a good quality framing job really adds to the aesthetic viability of a piece. I can't do framing myself and professional framing is one of my few extravagances in decorating, but so worth it. Especially when it comes to a piece of needlework that has TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND STITCHES in it.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Today's Knitting is Yesterday's News

If you're still one of those who indulge in the delightfully archaic practice of reading the newspaper on actual newspaper, or if your local newspapers are so desperate to entice you to do so that they leave freebies on your front porch, you may be wondering what to do with the paper once you've read it. Well, if you're a knitter, you can turn it into yarn and knit things with it. Back in 2007, Design Academy Eindhoven student Greetje van Tiem, from the academy's Man and Leisure department, presented a graduation show project that involved old newspapers into yarn that can be woven into carpets, curtains and upholstery. Accordng to van Tiem, each sheet of newspaper yields twenty yards of yarn.

Italian artist Ivano Vitali, who is interested in zero waste art and was experimenting with tapestries made of backdated newspapers, plastic bags, eggshells and aluminum foil nearly forty years ago, now works almost exclusively in recycled newsprint.

Vitali makes not only art installation, but newspaper garments that are not only quite attractive but even wearable. He produces different colours in his garment by carefully pre-sorting the newspapers before producing the yarn. And these are remarkably well-cut styles, but I can't help wondering what would happen if one got caught in the rain in newsprint knitwear. Mightn't it disintegrate completely?

I don't think for instance, that I'd have the nerve to go swimming in this Ivano Vitali-made bikini.

If you'd like to give knitting with newsprint a try, you might begin by checking out this Craftster tutorial on how to make newspaper yarn.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Knitting Jubilee

How do you make a large-scale yarn bomb or knitted art installation without having to do all the work yourself? By asking the public to help you out, of course. One weekend in June 2010, sculptor Dan Preston, jewellery designer Holly Packer, and some Superblue Design Ltd. employees took 7000 metres of rope, a giant circular knitting loom, and some large plastic balls to Jubilee Park at Canary Wharf, London, and enticed over 100 park visitors into knitting a 72 metre tube.

I'm wondering if I could try something similar the next time I'm behind schedule on knitting Christmas presents.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

How Daniela Edburg Sees Knitters

In 2010, photographer Daniela Edburg staged and took a series of photos about characters who deal with restlessness, obsessions, and the passage of time by, well, knitting. You can view them on Edburg's site, and see a few more pictures in a gallery posted by The Morning News.

Of course the photo you see above is from Edburg's set. My best guess is that it's Dickens' Miss Havisham, slightly recast as a knitter. And you know it's a surreal depiction of her, because if Miss Havisham had taken to her knitting instead of merely watching her adopted daughter Estella knit, she wouldn't have spent decades in that wedding gown. She would have preferred to wear her nice new sweaters, shawls, and other items.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Now You Knit It, Now You Don't

Shadow knitting, or illusion knitting, is a knitting technique for making knitted pieces that appear to be only striped when viewed straight on but contain a hidden image only viewable from an angle. The effect is created by alternating rows of two coloured yarns so that the raised stitches from one row hide the flat stitches of another row when seen from certain aspects. The "Girl With a Pearl Earring" piece above is an example of illusion knitting.

There's no way to convey the total impact of such a piece in a photograph or in a written description, so please see the video above for a better demonstration of how the image appears and disappears depending on one's vantage point. This piece is from Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer of Woolly Thoughts. You can view a gallery of their extraordinary illusion designs here. All of the Woolly Thoughts patterns are for sale on their website or via their Ravelry page.

If you're interested in trying your hand at illusion knitting, you can begin by checking out Wikihow's illusion knitting tutorial, or browsing the hundreds of illusion knitting projects on Ravelry, many of the patterns for which are available for free. The best of the patterns are from the Woolly Thoughts designers and are quite large and elaborate, but there are a number of smaller, simpler projects, such as scarves and dishcloths. If you have enough scarves and hate knitted dishcloths like I do, I recommend the very striking tulip cushion pattern shown above, which is available gratis from All Free Knitting. You might also join one of the several Ravelry illusion knitting groups.