Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saws Away!

You remember her from Astounding Knits as the Dutch sculptor who meticulously recreated bathroom fixtures in pink knitted wool. Several months ago, Desiree de Baar turned her attention to pink knitted chain saws, which she proceeded to hang in Sleenerzand Forest in Drenthe.

The knitting "worked a bit as a jacket," says de Baar, covering the hard, inner bodies of the Husqvarnas themselves since, "I needed them to be weather-proof."The project was an initiative by natuurkunst Drenthe. They collaborated with the forest and assisted in the woods. "Although the hanging (of steel cables, up to 10 meters high!) I did myself.  It was really [a show about] sharpening your sights through the forest, finding those trees and the view lines with the perspective of saws."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Astounding Felieke

Somewhere, somehow, I stumbled upon the work of Dutch jewelry sculptor Felieke van der Leest. I was working on KNITTING AROUND THE WORLD at the time, and decided to add her to the chapter on knitting in the Netherlands. Much to my chagrin, she was eventually cut by the editors in the final stages of manuscript prep, just as ASTOUNDING KNITS was going to press - and so too late to add her to that book, where she really belonged.

In an attempt to make it up to her, I wrote about her work for the winter issue of Twist Collective. And I'm writing about her here and now, in the hopes of spreading word of her incredible, whimsical creations among the general American populace. Some of the pieces shown here (an assortment of her newest work) contain knitted or crocheted components; some of them don't. For a wider assortment, visit Felieke at her website.

Beaver Family from Pencil Creek
Billy the Kids

Incognitos Anonymous
Gonzalez Brothers 
Peace Puffin
The End

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Heaven + Birds

The Sundogs have been at it again - in December, with Cloudishness, another commission from Inverness Old Town Art in Scotland. This time, rather than bombing a graveyard, the ladies (known to us as Jennifer Cantwell and Annie Marrs) used a car park elevator as their yarn-y platform. 

As Cantwell explains it, "The idea was that the elevator was a portal to heaven, heaven is handmade. The ground floor was the departure lounge and there were departure lounge information messages broadcast from a cloud.  We made utopian public information messages relevant to those entering Nirvana: weather reports, public safety info, travel news, directions, etc. – positive affirmations for those entering the next dimension and reassurances for anxious travellers. People loved it, it made them laugh, the elevator was working the whole time so they went to whatever floor their car was on. The sky was knitted on the machine, the clouds were made from wadding, the signs were knitted (steeking, spray glue + hot glue!)."
For those of you who remember the Sundog's previous grievances with their last, elderly knitting machine, Cantwell is pleased to report: "I've a new knitting machine now. I think my concentrated rage killed that last one."
Cantwell also mounted a show sans-Sundogs, entitled Birdsong, using as inspiration an earlier collection of cassette tape doilies she'd made. She says of this project, which was also exhibited in Inverness:

"I wanted to crochet sound, make patterns from the actual notes or structure of the notes. I've an interest in invisible data, coding, radiowaves, information that's all around us and in the air we breathe but [that we] can't see. Crochet turned into knitting.

"The Fair Isle patterns were knitted on a knitting machine, and the designs for the Fair Isle were taken from the shapes contained within the soundwaves of actual recordings from locations – my partner Dave is a sound designer so we recorded birds and ambient sound from different areas of Scotland and then put them through sound processing software on the computer so I was able to actually see the soundwaves and the shapes the sounds were making. Then I designed patterns from the shapes. The birdboxes are handmade, the knitting is steeked, spray glued and sewn onto them. There's an mp3 player inside each one and headphones so you can hear the soundtrack of each box. The QR codes are linked to googlemaps; each box was geotagged so if you scan the code on your phone, googlemaps will take you to the location of each recording. 

All photos courtesy of Jennifer Cantwell

"Kids loved the show and it was well received with the grown ups too. In the gallery, this film was projected  on one of the walls, and I set up a knitting zone and left out needles and wool and instructions. At the opening, Dave brought his decks and dj-ed a live soundpiece made from birdsongs and knitting noises. It was brilliant."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I know, I know, I've been remiss in posting about all those ASTOUNDING KNITS out there in the knitiverse. I promise to do better in 2012. And to start the year off right, here's Emily Stoneking's latest dissection, of a bat. You can knit it, too – see hereStoneking used Frog Tree alpaca sport to stitch up the body, and Jawoll fingering weight for the wings. She needle felted the insides out of bits of wool roving then sewed them into place.

I've always been something of a bat fan. For starters, as the mosquito magnet in my house, I love the fact that certain species of bat, such as the Cave Myotis, can eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes a night. I love that the Thai bumblebee bat is the smallest mammal in the world - weighing less than a penny and measuring about 1.1 inches long. I love that bats pollinate cashews and certain cacti; sleep not only in caves but also in furled banana leaves and large tropical spider webs; and that vampire bats can run on land in addition to flying.  And I love Stoneking's woolly exploration of their insides. (PS, did you know that bats and humans share a common ancestor?)