Monday, November 30, 2015

Test Swatches

As I was beginning to ponder what it would take to create knitted bark that was outside wrapped around a tree in New England for five months, I thought that some testing would be in order. I am thinking that I need to use acrylic yarn so that it doesn’t disintegrate while exposed to the elements, but I hate acrylic. I really want to use natural fiber. So I created test swatches of acrylic and acrylic blend yarn as well as wool to see how they hold up. They are stapled to my fence and I will test them over the next little while to see how they do. It's exciting to have a little time to experiment and find just the right fiber. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Identitatum Arborum

I am very excited for my next project! I was selected as one of the textile artists to make an installation in an exhibition this spring called Natural Threads. It will be at the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich Massachusetts. My project is called Identitatum Arborum (The Identity of Trees) and involves wrapping six to ten trees with a knitted “bark” skin to change their identity. The knitted skins will be approximately 15 inches tall and wrap corset-like around the tree trunk.

Each knitted skin will mimic a type of bark from a tree that is distinctly different than the tree it is on, thereby changing the tree’s identity. For example a pine tree might have an oak bark skin or a cottonwood could have an aspen bark skin. Each skin will have a stamped aluminum tree marker with the new identity of the tree. I hope visitors will ponder a few questions when looking at the installation: What is identity? Have you ever wanted to change your identity or persona? Does your core change when you adopt a new identity? Why would you want or need to change? What elements of your new identity are you hoping to project or adopt?

In addition to the installation in the garden, I will take the designed bark skins and translate them into wearable art. I hope to publish the patterns for people to knit and wear so that they can change their identity or take on an element of the tree.

I am excited to start the project but also a little apprehensive that I bit off more than I can chew. Although, if I could design and knit 15 pieces for my Black Rock Desert residency in four months, I bet I can do this. I hope to blog a bit more as I explore my process and try to figure out how to knit bark. So to all three of you who look at my blog, stay tuned for (hopefully) more blogging and more insight into my process of creating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Utah Statewide Annual Exhibition

Two of my pieces were selected to be shown in the Utah Arts and Museums Statewide Annual Exhibition opening on Friday. If you are near Salt Lake and want to see some great craft and photography, the exhibit will open in the Rio Grande Gallery on Friday night.

The two pieces are my Great Basin Cyanometer (which you can read about here) and the Lakeview Scarf (Chromometer) (which you can read about here). Yay for knitted artwork!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wildrye Poncho

I am on a knitting bender. I mistakenly thought that I would need to take a break after this summer of marathon knitting for my artist-in-residency. But instead, I am knitting more than I ever have (not counting this summer)! Maybe that is the true purpose of an artist-in-residency for the artist, to light a creative fire under them.

I saw a chunky poncho recently and loved it but wanted to make my own design. I have been thinking about a humble plant that I used to overlook every day, Great Basin wildrye. This unassuming plant is actually the workhorse of the basin and I wanted to incorporate it into one of my pieces.

Great Basin wildrye is a common native grass of western North America and grows abundantly around Great Salt Lake. Because it grows up to 8 feet tall, it rises above the deep snow providing food for foraging animals in the winter. Seeds of Basin wildrye were commonly eaten by many American Indians in the Great Basin, the stems were used in basketry, and the roots were made into brushes. It’s beautiful blue-green color changes to a vibrant gold in the autumn making Basin wildrye one of the most beautiful and hardest-working plants of the Great Basin.

I took a simple graphic representation of wildrye and translated that into a lace pattern for this very quick-to-knit poncho. The bulky yarn is held double on size 11 needles so it can be knit in one weekend, easy. The color is reminiscent of the ripe rye but a nice blue-green would look great too. If you are interested in knitting one the pattern is on my Ravelry page.