KNITTING ART reviewed By Sharron Butler PDF  | Print |  E-mail

knitting art cover Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists

Author: Karen Searle

ISBN-13: 978-0-7603-3067-8

Retail: $35.00 US • $38.95 CAN
• £22.99 UK

Pub Date: October 2008

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10.875     

Page Count: 160

Illustrations: 120 color & 30
b/w photos

KNITTING ART, reviewed By Sharron Butle

My family moved from England to Canada in the early 1960s, just before I was born.  My Grandmother would send us parcels in the mail that I looked forward to with as much excitement as I might feel waiting for Santa to come down the chimney.  These parcels contained British newspapers, comic books, chocolates, candies and, at times, hand-knit sweaters, mittens and crochet blankets.

 My Grandmother’s handiwork was not beautiful, but it was important for the messages it contained.  The most obvious, of course, is a message of love.  A sweater or gloves showed her desire to protect us from a cold Canadian climate. A colourful crochet blanket made from scrap yarn, and a sweater made out of recycled wool told us that our Grandmother didn’t waste anything and therefore, neither should we.

 My Grandmother’s knitting held meaning only to the people who loved her.  The works in Karen Searle’s book “Knitting Art” hold meaning for a much larger audience.

 The messages are diverse; they can sometimes be harsh criticism, as in Janet Morton’s work “Tending”, her critique on consumer excess featuring a twelve-foot tall anatomically correct heart; they can sometimes be positive messages of celebration, just look at Debbie New’s  “Labyrinth of Rebirth”, thirty-three lacy mohair panels containing images of fetal development; sometimes the artist wants to offer an outstretched hand, or has a desire to inform, as in Barb Hunt’s pink knitted landmines, which she refers to as a gesture of healing.

 While virtually every page features at least one beautiful full colour photograph for you to ooh and aah over, the true joy of this book comes from the text.  Karen Searle, an artist, lecturer, teacher and writer with an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, spent time with all of the eighteen North American artists featured in “Knitting Art”.  She gives us insight into not only what informs their art but, wonderful for other artist/knitters, gives us a great deal of information about how they work.  A lot of these artists not only produce unique works, their techniques are also unique.

“ All of these artists share one characteristic: they approach knitting with a sense of curiosity and wonder.”(pg. 16)  I feel inspired to approach my knitting the same way.  Perhaps I could infuse my knitting with more meaning, borrow and elaborate on some of the techniques I learned, or create my own. Then, like my Grandmother, send my art to someone I love.

Sharron Butler is an knitter, embroiderer, upholsterer and renovator, she has been an occasional editor of fibreQUARTERLY since 2005

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