The age old craft of knitting has recently begun to make a come back, but not in the same form or with the same purposes that we are all familiar with. Gone are the days of tea cosies, boring scarves and hideous jumpers that just oozed functionality and practicality, a new age of knitting has dawned. What was once considered an old-fashioned way to pass the time has now become a fashionable and trendy artistic medium as well as a new form of social activity.
Even some of the Hollywood a-list have begun clicking the needles with Kate Moss, Julie Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Madonna, Russell Crowe and Geri Halliwell having all discovered the joys of knitting which is sure to raise the profile of the craft even more.There are so many weird and wonderful things going on in the the most intriguing of which are the practices of a group of artists that have been given the term "guerilla knitters". Now before you start imagining knitted camo wearing soldiers jumping out of Apache helicopters attached to a stealth length of yarn packing rocket propelled knitting needle launches, "guerilla knitters" are basically the graffiti artists of the textile world. Nothing is safe from the wool warriors and needle ninjas who practice their moves under the cover of darkness giving everything from bike racks to trees to public sculptures the knitters touch. One of the great things about knitted graffiti is that it does everything that painted graffiti does except for damage other people's property, genius!!
With so many colours and types of yarn available, an endless number of ways it can be used and a contemporary art culture that embraces the unusual and unique, it is not surprising that artist's have begun using the humble yarn to express themselves. As well as giving artists something new to experiment with knitting has also, strangely enough, given rise to a whole new form of political activism that centres around the use of the activity of knitting as a form of expression. According to the glittyknittykitty website Knittivism is:
1. a doctrine emphasising vigorous or militant knitting activity, e.g. the use of knitting in mass demonstrations, urban interventions, in controversial, unusual or challenging ways, esp political, causes.
2. the systematic use of knitting for political ends. knittivist n and adj
Although the objects being created by knitters are absolutely fantastic there is more to knitting than the finished product. The process of creating such a work of art is as integral to the work as the end product because it is the actual process of creation that gives each work a history and a soul. Each stitch represents a moment in time which could correspond with any number of different events, thoughts, feelings and emotions thus making each knitted piece an emotionally and spiritually loaded object.
So much of the art being produced these days is bland, clinical and just plain boring which prevents people from connecting with and interacting with the artist and their work. The materials used in knitting are tactile, textural and raw which makes knitted works all the more appealing, characterful and evocative, the opposite of the bland, clinical and boring works being produced. Instead of being detached from the viewer, most knitted works of art invite and allow the viewer to experience, interact and connect with each work.
I just love the whole concept of knitting both as an artform and as a leisure activity and have no doubt that this addictive activity will continue to gain momentum so you had all better get knitting now so you don't get left behind. Trust me, you'll love it.