Artist in focus: Ruth Marshall

Ruth Marshall creates hand knit animal pelts to raise awareness of animals endangered by the illegal skin trade. At the same time, she indirectly brings us to question our relationships with animals of all kinds, as can especially seen in her piece, “Rocky,” which has been modeled after her own house cat.

Marshall offers workshops, creates exhibits, writes books and engages in conservation efforts that seamlessly integrate knitting, animal rights and politics. In her workshops, she actually teaches a method of intarsia she developed herself  to use for these pelt pieces.

Clicking any of the photos will take you to the artist’s blog.

LBP#1

“Leadbeater’s Possum #1” by Ruth Marshall

RM.T.Tiger#2 copy

“Tasmanian Tiger #2,” by Ruth Marshall

"Ocelot Series," by Ruth Marshall, 2010-2011

“Ocelot Series,” by Ruth Marshall, 2010-2011

"Rocky," Ruth Marshall, 2005

“Rocky,” Ruth Marshall, 2005

“The beginning of History and the First Man,” by Humayun Gauhar

At the beginning of time, in prehistory, women worked the spindle and men the potter’s wheel. Thus the wandering minstrel sang the Sufi’s song, “Long live the woman on the spinning mystic spindle” spinning out threads, every thread a force of history, its sound akin to the sound of creation.

Link to article from Pakistan Today.

A bit of abstract reading for your Monday morning – I hope you’ve had your tea or coffee for the day. This article addresses the metaphysical nature of the development of society, its history, its creation while playing with the allegorical imagery of spinning and fiber works.

 

“Cable Knit”

cableknit1

Contemporary artwork by artist Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, clicking the photo will take you to the artist’s project page.

In this piece, Egenhoefer combines a modern norm: Ethernet cables, with a traditional norm: knitting. Both forms interchangeably represent the exchange of information through time and space and the holding together of society through networks and the creation community.

On a more shallow level, this would be an awesome way to organize the rats-nest I call my jumble of electronics’ cords.

Contemporary Artists – Las Hermanas Iglesias

Las Hermanas Iglesias, The Iglesias Sisters.

Two sister artists, Lisa and Janelle Iglesias each recreate their own bodies in a witty fiber-arts project. Working with knitted body suits made by their mother, the Iglesias Sisters embroidered their finer details – body hair, birthmarks, tattoos, etc. By recreating their bodies in this art piece, these women highlight the infinite number of customizable options that knitting allows while raising questions about self identity and what it means to cover our bodies.

Clicking on any of the photos below will take you to the artists’ website.

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Short Clip – Old Salts Knitting (1936)

Warm even when wet, oily unscoured wool was the historic top pick for sailor’s sweaters. Though these sweaters are usually though to have been knit by whatever women happen to be in the lives of the sailors, we can see in this short video that it was not unheard of for sailors to do some of their own knitting as well. Not that this is really all that surprising – between sailors’ extensive knowledge of knots and working with rope and how nice it is knitting during the down time on a sail boat.

Though the links for these videos were provided through Youtube, the British Pathe curates these and more historic videos and other short clips.

Fall/Winter 2014 Knitwear Trends

Wool-wrapt models flocked the runways for this upcoming fashion season.  Though knitwear is a staple for most winter runways, new developments in fashion preferences are always noteworthy. Who knows when a designer will trigger the development of a new style of cable, a new desired finished look or trigger a new preferred technique.

Major designers including, Barbara Bui, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Row have all played with the idea of knits elongated layers of dusty neutral tones. Again, features such as cables and ribbing act as standards, while the way that these designers manage to have these larger-than-life layers of knits maintain shape and drape is really quite astounding.

Barbara Bui

Barbara Bui

Celine

Celine

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs

Michael Kors

Michael Kors

Row

Row

Runway and contour knits are great to look at for inspiration when designing your own patterns, but they are also useful when looking at other designer’s patterns. Below are some patterns found on Ravelry that correspond with at least some of the themes seen in the knitwear on the Winter/Fall 2012 runway. Clicking on the image will take you to its project page.

Morgana by Marie Wallin

(c) Rowan Yarns, 2012

Structured but comfortable, this pullover designed by Marie Wallin for Rowan Tweed is completely gorgeous. If you really want this project to be “this season” switch out the wine colored yarn for a similar dusty-neutral toned purple, like Manos del Uruguay Fino’s Corsage. Or for a truly no fuss neutral, you can not go wrong with Madelinetosh Dandelion Yarn in Antler.

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(c) villiputti

Knit up some ribbed or cabled leggings, or textured leggings like Outi Markkanen’s Pitsilegginsit shown above and wear them with a knitted tunic if you are feeling brave, or with a lesser fabric if you are more conservative.

(c) Joe Storie

(c) Joe Storie

I love everything about the Chloe cardigan by Jo Storie. Slubby, textured, grey, with an interesting shape and construction style. It doesn’t get much better than this.

(c) Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

(c) Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

Jared Flood’s Hayward is the last example I will give here. Simple construction with a relaxed a clean looking finish, just another pattern I want to knit and promptly fall asleep in after weaving in my ends.

Literal Dog Knits, circa WWII

You won’t need to take your rations book anywhere because dog wool does not need a coupon, only a comb.

Now somewhat taboo, dogs as fiber animals was once thought of as a war time necessity. Using dog hair was seen as being thrifty, humane and environmentally responsible, largely because the dog hair was going to be shed whether it was collected by the wooler or not. Below are two British videos promoting the use of dog hair fibers as wool. The first video is from 1942, during WWII – the second is slightly after, in 1951.

Though the links for these videos were provided through Youtube, the British Pathe curates these and more historic videos and other short clips.

Trendy Knitting

It is easy for knitters to get caught up in knitting. Yarn choices, patterns, techniques – there are almost too many things to learn about, and ways to improve your products. Because of this, it is also easy for knitters to forget about the non-knitting population. What does knitwear mean to the non knitter? Somewhere between the scratchy feel of their grandmothers’ acrylic afghans, the tragic-comedy that is the ugly sweater and the common questioning of the necessity for hand-knit-anythings, they seem to be missing out on something.

However, luckily enough for them this trend seems to be changing. Now there are options to buy hand knit sweaters and other pieces at all different price points. You can contract independent knitters online, you can find ready made and designer pieces on Etsy, there are new high end boutiques like &Daughter and Needle. There are $200 sweaters, look books, sexy photos and seasonal colors to be had by all.

&Daughter

&Daughter

&daughterhat

&Daughter

 

Knitters, too, don’t seem to be missing out on this knitting fashion trend. While there has been the innate promise of trendy patterns from Vogue Knitting, gorgeous patterns that meld traditionalism and modern flair from Rowan and seemly infinitely searchable one-off patterns on websites such as Ravelry – trendier options are now riding in on the waves of Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. Wool and the Gang is one of these stores. They offer ready made knits as well as the patterns and yarn to make them, all while sourcing materials with care and stressing the importance of environmental sustainability.

Wool and the Gang

Wool and the Gang

 

There is also Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, that showcases (and sells) an idealized knitter’s word of… well, yarns and teas. If that weren’t enough, their store is located on a quaint Washington island.

So what does this mean for the knitters and those who love knit wear? The internet presence and communal atmosphere for knitters  are there, certainly. We are also getting quality, variety and an quantifiable sense of “being in.” Those who buy boutique hand knit sweaters benefit from us benefiting from these things too, and they benefit without needing to care about the larger picture. Some folks just like knitwear. If people want to knit to be trendy, awesome. If I can personally propagate sustainable fashion while doing what I love and wearing the clothing I like anyway, great.  Count me in.