My first sample was a trial in wrapping yarn around the needles in between stitches, then dropping the loop on the next row. By doing this I created big open spaces without the need to find enormous broom handles to use as knitting needles. Anyway, have you noticed how broom handles now all have plastic shafts with large end caps? So it’s pretty hard to get the yarns over them.
This basic structure was knitted with 12mm and 8mm needles, sometimes singly and sometimes double wrapped around the needles as explained above. Once I’d got the hang of it I moved on.
This length automatically unwinds itself until it gets long enough to reach the floor where it then twists and twists into tight knots.
Both views show a little variation in colour even though they are fairly silhouetted. At this point I thought, why not stop there? Had I fulfilled the brief? It was a knitted net and the light effects were very interesting.
Note to self: Next time when your gut is screaming “This is great, stop now” try listening a little more intently.
But I continued. The whole cord was then wound onto a hand-towel inner cylinder ready to knit up. Look at it, it’s already lost its ‘life’ by being tensioned on the roll. Broom handles were out so I bought 19mm & 16mm x 1.2m wooden dowel, sanded them and started knitting.
This has been a lesson to me in how to take a really lovely hand dyed (by Elizabeth Calnan) 20/2 silk yarn and turn it into something mundane, unattractive, boring, uninspiring and unwanted. I’m itching to pull the entire thing out but I need my tutor to see my progress and, as I value her comments, I want her feedback. This will never go to the assessing board for this course and will eventually be unwound and recycled.
However, it does demonstrate using thicker needles, double wrapping them to get bigger holes, creating huge open spaces and adding in another yarn for variation – even though it makes me cringe.
Moving on: Having lost some momentum re the above I decided to have a go with some plastics which are not my favourite media. I’m very much a fabric and thread person, but it was time to try something outside my own likes and wants. I cut up a big white plastic shopping bag and found an old cassette tape and went back to my 8mm & 12mm needles. I based the stitching on the above idea – single needle wrapping, double wrapping, medium and big holes, garter stitch and stocking stitch – but let’s stay away from the rectangular shape this time.
This piece hung on my wall for three days as I mulled it over, looking at it every time I went past.
I’m not a fan of plastics in art, in general, but somehow this appeals to me. Yes, I really like it. There is no theme, no set outcome expected, no real design idea. It has been created exactly as the brief stipulated: a materials-led approach by trial and error.
So, what have I learned?
- Don’t limit yourself to materials you are familiar with.
- LISTEN to your inner voice, or at least stop and think about what it is telling you before blundering on.
- When disheartened with one thing, leave it and move on instead of wasting time trying to force it into something else. Coming back to it later may bring a fresh eye. If it doesn’t, well, what have you lost?
- Be prepared to be surprised and try not to overplan.
- Try to recognise when a particular technique might not be one of your strong points, do the best you can and then concentrate your energies elsewhere – on your strengths, where you can make better choices.
And finally: The piece below cannot be submitted for this course because I knitted it a couple of years ago but I’m including the photo here as I’ve always liked it. Perhaps I’ll build on it one day, but perhaps I won’t.