Many of us probably have fond memories of knitting as something our grandmothers did of an evening. But this old school craft has recently undergone a revival amongst creative types looking to incorporate traditional techniques in new ways.
Knitting's new wave
A number of high profile celebrities have contributed to the growing interest in knitting: Kate Moss, Christina Hendricks and even Julia Roberts have all been quoted as being fans. But the biggest push behind knitting’s cultural revolution has been amongst designers and artists that are challenging the way we experience knitting both aesthetically and practically.
Australian-based and New York-regular Jacqui Fink has become famous for her large-scale creations using roving – unspun – Merino wool and needles made from PVC piping. Fink’s extreme knitting style ranges from large scale, sound-absorbing installation pieces for the home to more finely crafted garments.
Also from Australia is Phil “Chili Philly” Ferguson, whose crocheted hats have become infamous on social media as much for their quirky inspirations as they are for their dexterous handiwork. And fashion has also begun to explore knit’s opportunities to create garments that embrace the intimate craftsmanship of knitting.
London-based knitwear designer Craig Lawrence has shown his avant garde collections at London Fashion Week since 2009, with his creations worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Björk and Tilda Swinton. While studying at Central St Martins in London, Lawrence collaborated with the visionary designer Gareth Pugh, contributing unique knits over six seasons.
A new, old art form
Yarn bombing, knitted sculptures and experimental fashion trends have helped bring knitting back into the spotlight, showing that even “old fashioned” techniques still have a place in the modern world. But in a world anything and everything can be outsourced and bought, what does knitting offer to an increasingly time poor populace? Part of the craft’s biggest appeal is its potential to answer many of today’s questions surrounding ethical production methods particularly in fashion.
With so much of the fashion and design industry capitulating to mass production, knitting offers a slowing down of the creative pace while offering the intimate satisfaction of seeing something made by hand. Additionally, knitting’s environmental impact is incredibly low as pure wools such as Merino are renewable fibres and completely biodegradable.