Monday, 17 October 2011

You can knit a boat

and, should you doubt this, here is a link to a lace coracle made by Debbie New.
http://www.philosopherswool.com/Pages/DebbieNewCards.htm . There is a picture of the artist inside the coracle in her book "Unexpected Knitting". I believe the knitting has been covered in fibreglass to make it water/sea worthy.
Yes, this is knitting - the boring stuff that little old ladies sit in their rockers and do, perhaps. Most of the old ladies I know do not sit in rockers and only some of them knit. I think most of them know how to knit. Some of them are too busy to knit, others have arthritis and have given up trying to knit and others have taken up other crafts they feel are more suited to the Australian climate - such as quilting or embroidery.
But knitting is still a passion for some and, in cooler climates, it has enjoyed a resurgence. People knit not just at home but in pubs, clubs, parks, coffee shops, bookshops, libraries, on public transport and almost everywhere else. They do not just knit with wool but with alpaca, linen, mohair, angora, cotton, silk, bamboo, soy, corn, quiviut, milk (yes I did say milk) and a wide range of fancy artificial fibres.
I freely admit I am a "yarn snob". I like natural fibres, good quality wool for preference. Good wool has a natural elasticity. It is much easier to knit than linen or cotton, neither of which have natural elasticity.
You can buy a wide range of knitting needles now too - no longer just tortoiseshell or metal or plastic but bamboo, a range of timbers, milk (yes, milk again) and other materials. Needles are not just round anymore. You can buy square needles. You can buy them with points designed specifically for lace knitting. You can buy "interchangeable" needles where you can screw the points on and off a length of cord for a "circular needle". Australians are taxed on knitting needles. They are regarded as "precision instruments".
But, back to the coracle/boat. This sort of work has reinvented knitting as an art form. Knitting does not need to be of the "buy a pattern, buy the yarn, follow the instructions" sort where the end result is something the same as everyone who has bought the same pattern will achieve if they buy the yarn and follow the instructions. I have no doubt that making the coracle gave Debbie New a great deal of satisfaction.
And here is a link to more knitting/crochet "art" and not "just craft" - although, believe me, it takes craft as well: http://www.eject.com.au/e-motive/prudence/gallery.htm
These are just two of many examples out there on the internet for everyone to see. You may not be interested in knitting as such but, if you are interested in art, colour, form, sculpture - or life itself - then they are worth looking at.
I want to look at life like this too.

2 comments:

Sheep Rustler said...

It was finding Pru's stuff online that got me into the whole freeform knitting-as-art stuff quite a few years ago now! I have met Debbie New and she signed my copy of her book :)

Anonymous said...

I could not see that boat properly so my wife has just borrowed the book from a neighbour to convince me. I am, quite frankly, stunned. What magnificent work! Bob C-S