Just got back from a knit-along hosted by my old school-friend Jess… I say knit-along, although stitch-and-bitch would probably be more appropriate (… old teachers, y’know!).
It was great fun to make a pattern next to other knitting enthusiasts. Thinking about hosting something similar closer to home soon using the studio as the venue. As soon as I find some time away from teaching art classes in Wexford, that is (hectic ATM!) It’s fantastic to be able to consult each other on similar projects – or even just enthuse wildly about what the person next to you is doing.
We also had a few people making patterns for the first time, so there was a nice exchange of knowledge and ideas from the more experienced knitters and stitchers. Some people even worked on the same pattern. I used the opportunity to experiment and attempted to knit a sweater that used two different yarn-weights…
Not entirely convinced with the results, but maybe I’ll give it another go with different yarns. A question of balance, I guess!
This week I’m starting a new experiment with a friend of mine from Poland, Kasha! Over coffee, she mentioned that she had a wide circle of Polish friends that want to improve their English and that conversation is the best way to get better. That got me thinking; Why not start a knitting group for English language learners? Everyone knows that nothing beats the conversation during a knit-along. I broached the idea with Kasha (who is one of the best knitters I’ve ever met) and she loved the idea. However, she was concerned that the group would only contain Polish people, with not enough native English speakers to provide the natural language and the occasional correction.
After thinking about the idea for a while we decided to make it a ‘learn to knit plus learn English group’, in which experienced knitters would teach the others how to knit in English, giving the participants a clear task. After all, there’s no better reason to jump into a language than having to explain something to someone. However, this would hinge on having a balanced group of experienced knitters and an almost 1:1 ratio of native-speakers to non-natives.
In the end we decided to make the first half a knitting evening and the second half a conversation-based activity. Hopefully the knitting part will provide a basis for conversation in the second part. We’ll see… Failing that I found some pretty good conversation material that could form the basis for a more formal discussion on different topics at ESL Conversation Questions Online. I hope that won’t be necessary and that the conversation develops naturally in the knitting direction… still, never hurts to be prepared, I suppose!
First ‘learn-English knit-along’ is planned for next Friday, with 12 takers already, so I’ll be interested to see if the experiment works!
Normally I keep my personal artistic endeavors and my passion for knitting separate. In my life I seem to have two distinct groups: those with whom I talk about art and my knitting community. However, recently I’ve been thinking about bringing knitting (or perhaps, more accurately weaving) into my own personal art projects.
In many ways knitting is the perfect metaphor for mixed media artwork. A while ago I tried making a sweater that combined two differently weighted yarns and this got me thinking as to how I could blend two different materials and media in a similar way in a work of art, as opposed to a simple sweater.
There are some interesting examples of how weaving can add depth to paintings and collages, such as the stunning example below, in which the artist blends two different paintings of the same thing by ripping or cutting the resulting pictures and then “knitting” them together. Logically, the artist must loose a whole painting in the process, since half of each painting is hidden in the process of weaving them together! As a result, there are two ways of knitting each set of two pictures together, giving two distinct outcomes – something that adds an interesting aleatoric twist to the artistic process. The artist no longer retains full control of the outcome… and may even be surprised by the result!
Definitely food for thought…
This post seems to be mixing the Arts and the Crafts… but maybe knitting isn’t as far away from art as we are tempted to think it is.