Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Mother of Yarn Bombing: Magda Sayeg

Magda Sayeg is a textile artist who is considered to be the 'mother of yarn bombing'. Her movement began very organically when she covered the door handle of her boutique with a knit changing it into something that was hand-made, colourful, warm and inviting. In 2005, she founded KnittaPlease - a yarn bombing collective.

Magda in Action |
Sourced from The Guardian
Magda transforms everyday items found in the urban streetscape by covering them with yarn that has been knit or crocheted personalizing a sterile or cold public space with something that is soft, warm and vibrant. She has tapped into something that has struck a chord and has become a world-wide phenomenon. Perhaps it has something to do with the beautification of urbanity; perhaps it is seeing something handmade and colourful in unexpected spaces or perhaps it is the idea of the warmth and tactile nature of yarn in this temporary artform against the cold, hard and permanency of concrete and steel.

There is a transformation that occurs when I cover an inanimate object with soft hand-made material. This interaction changes the object without taking away its identity or paralyzing its original function. It is this unplanned arrangement of the material that makes these objects come to life, become sculptural and even redefine or reinterpret a space. The exploration of environmental change drives me: provoking the world to be a more challenging, uncon-ventional, and interesting place.

Groovy Bus | Mexico City, Mexico
The simple juxtaposition of this woven material placed within an urban environment has inspired a new generation of knitters who no longer view function as the sole purpose for knitting. This new approach to knitting questions the assumptions of a traditional craft while adding a previously unused material to the world of street art.

Knitted Stairs | Sydney, Australia | Photo Magda Sayeg
Milan | Photo Magda Sayeg
Her work has evolved over to include art installations that will be covered under a future blog post.

Check out her TedTalk: How yarn bombing grew into a worldwide movement.


Friday, June 09, 2017

A Visual Art Movement: Yarn Bombing

In a series of monthly blog posts, I am going to explore the art of knitting and how its popularity is impacting our world of art.

The first visual art movement that I will explore is yarn bombing which is a three-dimensional street art that is described as the act of covering something unexpected in knitting. It is also known as guerilla art, or yarn storming (a less violent way of saying yarn bombing), urban knitting or kniffiti. 

Yarn bombing is considered the female version of the mostly male-dominated urban street graffiti. In its essence, yarn bombing is temporary and has a limited life span – it has intentional impermanence. There is typically a mixture of both knitting and crochet worked within the projects (crochet works up rather quickly).
David Demchuk (from Toronto) is quoted as saying: Yarn bombing confronts people with creativity that’s not heavily disciplined or aestheticized. It can look perfect and polished or hazardous and insane – that’s part of its charm. It breaks down a lot of barriers that people have about creativity. 
The start of yarn bombing has been attributed to a couple of origins – some articles point to the Netherlands in 2004 and some to knitters in Texas who wanted to use up their stash but many believe that Magda Sayeg is considered to be the founder of yarn bombing. Although there is no definitive start date or a clear indication of who began the movement – it is definitely a recent art form that has quickly spread worldwide. 

The ideas are numerous as to why this is done: Adding warmth and beauty to cold and sterile public spaces, making a peaceful political statement, showcasing creativity, provoking thought…etc. It can show up unexpectedly in the urban landscape on utilitarian objects such as lamp posts, benches, parking meters, poles or statues. 

As with urban street graffiti, many artists choose to remain anonymous. However, there are some well-known artists who are leading this movement that I'll dive into in my future blogs.

The following are a few examples of some amazing works of art.


Trees at the State Capitol in Austin, TX by Magda Sayeg/Knitta Please

Bridge of Cesenatico | Italy | Photo credit Sleppa

 Blanton Museum | UT campus | Dan Machold

Bicycle | The Netherlands| Photo credit Baykedevries

Sunday, May 14, 2017

SQUARE MEDALLION with SWIRLING INCREASES

Stitch of the Month -  May 2017
Medallions are knit using a set of double-pointed (5) needles. They can be created by increasing as you work from the centre out or by decreasing from the outer circumference inwards to the centre. They can also be knit in a number of different shapes including square, round, pentagon, hexagon and octagon. 

Medallions can be used as mats or as doilies but they can also be sewn together to create blankets, bedspreads or cushion covers. 

The square medallion shape would work well for items were you want to create a patchwork effect of squares by sewing a number of medallions together using different colours or fibres. The increases are created using yarn overs.

Square Medallion with Swirling Increases
Cast on 8 sts (2 sts on each of the 4 dpn using 5th dpn to work sts)
Set up Round  Knit into back of each st
Round 1  yo at the beginning of each of the 4 needles 
Repeat Round 1 until square is required size ensuring each needles has the same number of sts for uniformity of each square.
Bind off loosely.

Note: To make the swirls increase counter-clockwise, do the yarn overs before the last stitch on each of the 4 needles instead of placing the yarn overs at the beginning.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

PUFFED STITCH

Stitch of the Month - March 2017
The Puffed Stitch is all about texture. It's a style of the bobble stitch where a cluster of five stitches are worked back and forth over a number of rows creating a three-dimensional texture or a 'puff' in the knit fabric. It also uses more yarn than a stockinette or lace stitch because of the extra rows that are knit to create the puffs.


Puffed Stitch
(Multiples of 10 stitches + 2)
Row 1 and 3 (WS) Purl
Row 2  Knit
Row 4  K1, *(K5, turn, p5, turn) 3 times, k10; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Row 5  and 7  Purl
Row 6  Knit
Row 8  K6, *(K5, turn, p5, turn) 3 times, k10, repeat from * to last 6 sts, (k5, turn, p5, turn) 2 times, K6.
These 8 rows form the Puffed Stitch pattern.



Wednesday, February 08, 2017

VAN DYKE CHECK STITCH

Stitch of the Month - February 2017
Van Dyke Check is a reversible stitch pattern that is worked over a combination of knit and purl stitches.



Van Dyke Check Stitch
(Multiples of 8 sts)
Row 1  (RS) Knit
Row 2  *K4, p4; repeat from * to end.
Row 3  P1, *k4, p4; repeat from * to last 7 sts, end k4, p3.
Row 4  K2, *p4, k4; repeat from * to last 6 sts, end p4, k2.
Row 5  P3, *k4, p4; repeat from * to last 5 sts, end k4, p1.
Row 6  *P4, k4; repeat from * to end.
Row 7  Knit
Rows 8 thru 11  *K4, p4; repeat from * to end.
Row 12  Purl
Row 13  *P4, k4; repeat from * to end.
Row 14  K1, *p4, k4; repeat from * to last 7 sts, end p4, k3.
Row 15  P2, *k4, p4; repeat from * to last 6 sts, end k4, p2.
Row 16  K3, *p4, k4; repeat from * to last 5 sts, end p4, k1.
Row 17  *K4, p4; repeat from * to end.
Row 18  Purl
Rows 19 thru 22  *P4, k4; repeat from * to end.
These 22 rows form the Van Dyke Check Stitch.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

GRANITE STITCH

Stitch of the Month - January 2017
The Granite Stitch is worked over an even number of stitches and four row repeat. The decrease row followed by an increase row creates a dense fabric that looks similar to a row of purl against stockinette but the effect creates a more interesting look and feel. There is less drape to the fabric due to the denseness of the stitch but that's also very appealing attribute of this stitch pattern.


Granite Stitch
(Even number of sts)
Row 1 (RS)  Knit
Row 2 *k2tog; repeat to end
Row 3 *kfb; repeat to end
Row 4 Purl

Abbreviations
kfb - knit into the front and back of the stitch

Friday, December 09, 2016

Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 is GREENERY

Pantone® has named Greenery as the color of the year for 2017 citing it as a refreshing and revitalizing shade symbolic of new beginnings.
❝Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize. Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.❞  Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute 
Greenery is synonymous with nature's growth - foliage, vegetation, plant life, flora, verdure and herbage. It not only sustains us by producing oxygen, purifying the air and giving us medicine, greenery also provides us with natural aesthetic beauty. 



Greenery is characterized as a yellowish-green shade. It pairs well with other shades making it a versatile color to add to many palettes. Pantone has paired it with 10 different palettes that includes neutrals, brights, deeper shades, pastels and metallics. It's a grounding color much like nature where flowers reveal their beauty against what can be considered a neutral background.

I'm always drawn to this shade of green. It makes me think of springtime when the new leaves and fresh new grass first burst to life and there is an excitement to get out and enjoy the outdoors and reconnect with people after a long winter season. I associate greenery with hope and rejuvenation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

SEAFOAM STITCH

Stitch of the Month - December 2016
The Seafoam stitch has a unique and interesting texture. It’s a reversible stitch pattern that resembles waves. The stitch pattern is created by making yarn overs and then dropping them on the following row. It an easy way to create a pattern that looks like lace but is worked using only knit stitches and yarn overs.

There are numerous stitch pattern books that have the pattern as *[yo] twice, k1, [yo] 3 times, k1, [yo] 4 times, k1, [yo] 3 times, k1, [yo] twice, k6*. You may want to experiment with it in place of the stitch pattern below in rows 3 and 7 but I found that the elongated yarns from the dropped stitches looked a bit too loose.

The stitch works well for scarves, shawls and summer sweaters. I particularly like the Seafoam pattern when it’s knit with a variegated yarn.



Seafoam Stitch
(Multiples of 10 stitches + 6)
Row 1 (RS) Knit
Row 2  Knit
Row 3  K6, *yo, k1, [yo] twice, k1, [yo] 3 times, k1, [yo] twice, k1, yo, k6; repeat from * to end
Row 4  Knit while dropping all yarn overs from needle
Row 5  Knit
Row 6  Knit
Row 7  K1, *yo, k1, [yo] twice, k1, [yo] 3 times, k1, [yo] twice, k1, yo, k6; repeat from * to last 5 sts, yo, k1, [yo] twice, k1, [yo] 3 times, k1 [yo] twice, k1, yo, k1. 
Row 8  Knit while dropping all yarn overs from needle
These 8 rows form the Seafoam stitch pattern

Abbreviations
RS  right side
yo   yarn over

Friday, November 25, 2016

WORLD OF THREADS EXHIBITION 2016

The World of Threads Festival is showcasing local, national and international contemporary and textile artists.The festival is in full swing and I had the chance to see the exhibition at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville, Ontario and found a couple of amazing knitted pieces that are true works of art.

Brigitte Amarget | Seine-Port, France

WOMEN IN WAR FOR PEACE
Along the Cat Walk & Kimono Road corridor were amazing displays of fibre/textile clothing. Here I found a beautiful piece that was created from x-rays, reflective materials, threads and nylon thread. The techniques included knitting, numerical treatment of Tsubas for laser engraving and cutting on x-rays, as well as hand and machine sewing.






Chris Motley | San Francisco, California
BROWN IS THE NEW GREEN  
The Quiet Zone 2 Corridor featured artwork that was meant to give "visitors the opportunity to pause, to breathe, and to relax amidst muted colours, receptive forms and an imperturbable stillness". Chris has used wool yarn, wire and thread to create this beautiful piece through the use of hand knitting, fulling, sewing and assemblage.



There is a tremendous world of possibilities to transcend yarn into amazing works of art. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

VINE LACE

Stitch of the Month - November 2016
The vine lace is a lovely stitch that is worked over a four-row pattern repeat. There is only one nine-stitch pattern repeat to memorize and which is staggered over two rows of lace pattern.

The edging also has a scalloped edge. I found that the edge still curled slightly but not as dramatically as stockinette stitch and laid flat after blocking.




Vine Lace
(Multiples of 9 stitches + 4)
Row 1  Purl
Row 2 - (RS) - K3, *yo, k2, ssk, k2tog, k2, yo, k1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Row 3 - Purl
Row 4 - K2, *yo, k2, ssk, k2tog, k2, yo, k1; repeat from * to last 2 sts, k2.
(These 4 rows form the Vine Lace stitch pattern)

Friday, October 07, 2016

CANDLE FLAMES

Stitch of the Month - October 2016
The Candle Flame stitch pattern is worked against a reverse stockinette background where the candle flames seems to be raised from the fabric much like a cable stitch. The pattern is worked over a multiple of 12 stitches that are increased and decreased over 24 rows; only count stitches on 12th and 24th rows.

This is an absolutely beautiful stitch pattern that looks wonderful in a scarf or shawl.


Candle Flames
(Multiples of 12 stitches + 2)
Row 1 - *P2, yo, k1, yo, p2, k2, k2tog, k3; end p2.
Row 2 - *K2, p6, k2, p3; end k2.
Row 3 - *P2, k1, (yo, k1) twice, p2, k2, k2tog, k2; end p2.
Row 4 - *(K2, p5) twice; k2.
Row 5 - *p2, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2, k2, k2tog, k1; end p2.
Row 6 - *K2, p4, k2, p7; end k2.
Row 7 - *P2, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, p2, k2, k2tog; end p2.
Row 8 - *k2, p3, k2, p9; end k2.
Row 9 - *P2, k2, k2tog, k5, p2, k1, k2tog; end p2.
Row 10 -*K2, p2, k2, p8; end k2.
Row 11 - *P2, k2, k2tog, k4, p2, k2tog; end p2.
Row 12 - *k2, p1, k2, p7; end k2.
Row 13 - *P2, k2, k2tog, k3, p2, yo, k1, yo; end p2.
Row 14 - *K2, p3, k2 p6; end k2.
Row 15 - *P2, k2, k2tog, k2, p2, (k1, yo) twice, k1; end p2.
Row 16 - *(K2, p5) twice, end k2.
Row 17 - *P2, k2, k2tog, k1, p2, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2; end p2.
Row 18 - *K2, p7, k2, p4; end k2 .
Row 19 - *P2, k2, k2tog, p2, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3; end p2.
Row 20 - *K2, p9, k2, p3; end k2.
Row 21 - *P2, k1, k2tog, p2, k2, k2tog, k5; end p2.
Row 22 - *K2, p8, k2, p2; end k2.
Row 23 - *P2, k2tog, p2, k2, k2tog, k4; end p2.
Row 24 - *K2, p7, k2, p1; end k2.
(These 24 rows form the Candle Flames Stitch Pattern)