Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Say YES to June!

It's corny, it's true, but June will persist in being the most popular month for weddings. One June bride, UK artist Freddie Robins, went so far as to knit her own wedding; admittedly, she was already married to her husband Ben Coode-Adams, and she had a great deal of stitching help from the Cast Off Knitting Club for Boys & Girls, and London's Pumphose Gallery, where the so-called "Ceremony" was staged. But that hardly makes the undertaking less impressive. Below, a few of the "wedding" snaps that didn't make it in to Astounding Knits!

Coode-Adams in knitted top hat and scarf; Robins in knitted wedding dress with 95-foot train

Knitting guests in knitted dresses

Accoutrements of an all-knitted wedding
Of course, any wedding requires two soft hearts. If you are Iris Eichenberg, better than 2 are 120 diminutive (4-inch) specimens, each meant to represent a friend or family member of the Dutch artist.
30 of Eichenberg's 120 free-hand knitted hearts

Finally, every wedding begins at least on some level with family members. To celebrate the genetic ties inherent in this most superlative of June ceremonies, the photo below illustrates the philosophy of Reknit, a small, quietly brilliant company comprised of graphic designer Haik Avanian and his mom, Gayane Avanian, in which participants mail in an old piece of knitting to be reknit by Gayane into something newly useful.
The Avanian family, and a favorite reknit, traced through the decades

Thursday, May 19, 2011


It's always aggravating, when compiling a book that includes photographs, to decide which ones stay and which ones go. This was certainly the case with Astounding Knits! So abundant were the pictures sent in by some contributors that a good number of favorites were tragically consigned to the surplus folder. Luckily, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I can share them with you here.

Below are two new additions to this post, from a great favorite artist in our house among both resident and visiting kids and husbands, Mark Newport. If you've seen the book, you've already been introduced to his knitted Batman and Argyleman suits. Now I present...

Sweaterman 6, 2010...

...And W man, 2009. Photos courtesy of the artist

Alle Honde

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for miniatures, which is why I've written about the work of Dutch micro-knitter Annelies de Kort on several occasions. In the book, I wanted to focus on the absolute smallest of her knitting, which meant that the strange and joyful context of her work was missing. Such as with the above collection of her knitted coats for wee dachshunds, and the small figure, below, which has been cast into a dollhouse-ian terrarium. Has she leapt from a great height of inches, or is she just sunbathing?

Garden. Photos courtesy of Annelies de Kort.
Visitors to Susette Newberry's blog have watched in fascination as over the years, she's stitched up all the letters of the alphabet, using her rabid interest in the history of typography as a jumping off point. It all starts with A, for artichoke (Cynara scolymus), of course; although in the book, this gorgeous specimen lost out to J is for Jacquard, Q is for Quatrefoil and T is for Turkey.

Photo (c) Susette Newberry, unionpurl.blogspot.com

I've written almost as often about the work of Australia-based artist Helen Pynor as I have about that of de Kort (you can find my Twist Collective article here). And while the book focused exclusively on the organs that Pynor stitched up using human hair as her medium, she has knit other things as well, such as the "hair shirts" (my term - must be my Catholic upbringing) below.

Exhale, 2005
Pynor working with knitted hair. Photos by Danny Kildare, courtesy of the artist and Dominick Mersch Gallery, Sydney

Last but not least, who doesn't love a bit of crocheted phantasmagoria? Here, two examples from German sculptor Patricia Waller, whose slightly more gory work graced the pages of the book.


Antlers. Photos (c) Patricia Waller

Friday, May 13, 2011

That Knitting's Alive!

One of the most frustrating components of Astounding Knits! was the chapter that featured knitted animation. No matter how fabulous the stills sent in by the featured artists they were still, well, still.

So without further ado, I herewith present links to the book's animated entries, in all their glorious animated-ness. Enjoy!

"Brain", crocheted by Kate Fenker

"Brain," in its still form.

The knitimation of Max Alexander, featuring "I Am Ahab" and "The Knitties"

A scene from "I Am Ahab."

LOVO Films' commercial for Natural Gas Belgium (the making of the commercial is equally compelling)

The house heats up...with knitting!

I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, and I don't, really. But the final piece of animation (from which I couldn't even get a still for the book – couldn't reach the director, Michel Gondry; couldn't reach the band, Steriögram; couldn't reach the artist responsible for the knitting) has a personal story that goes along with it. Just after my daughter was born in 2003, I stumbled upon a tiny East Village shop run by a woman named Lauri Faggioni. In its window were hand-sewn and embroidered birds of the most fantastical whimsy and skill; equally amazing, the shop was open – Lauri kept what I will generously call "East Village hours." I was mesmerized by the creatures she had created and we got to chatting. I told her I had just written a book called Knitting Lessons, which sought to answer the question of why so many people were seemingly, suddenly knitting at the turn to the 21st century. And she told me she had just knit an entire music video. We agreed that I should write about it, and exchanged email addresses and phone numbers; but I could never, back then, find the appropriate forum and finally last year, when I was writing Astounding Knits!, she had already moved on to bigger things – like designing the incredible set pieces for Gondry's movie The Science of Sleep. I never managed to see or speak with her again. But one of her silk birds swings in my daughter's bedroom window and this music video, titled "Walkie Talkie Man," blows my mind every time I watch it. Lauri made THE WHOLE THING. And yes, that's her in the blue sweater.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring has Definitely Sprung!

In Brooklyn, at least. And to prove it, here's a photo of Astounding Knits! contributor Desirée de Baar (with husband Frank) in front of a bright gaggle of tulips. The couple were on their way to visit what's left of the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden but first stopped off in my neighborhood to say hello. It's so great to meet in person (as opposed to over the Internet) the artists and craftspeople who populate the pages of the book – I hope to get to know many more of you as the weeks and months progress.

If you've seen the book, you know de Baar from her knitted Keuken, an accurate scale model of a sink and faucets rendered entirely in pink wool:

Photo by  Joep Vogels, Audax Textielmuseum, courtesy of RAM, Rotterdam
Here are a couple more signs of high spring:

Gayle Roehm's Spring Flowers Egg, a knitted interpretation of a Fabergé egg of the same name. The original was one of  50 bejeweled creations made for tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and given at Easter to members of their family. Roehm's was fashioned of red and gold crochet cotton.

Photo by Miriam Rosenthal, ThirdEyePhotography
And a selection of Anita Bruce's knitted plankton - because as any coastal enthusiast knows, 'tis the season for Spring Bloom, an up-tick of phytoplankton that occurs in the North Atlantic. Alas, Bruce's "hypothetical" plankton, made of 0.25mm enameled copper wire, probably won't be washing up on a beach near you.

Photo courtesy of Anita Bruce