Sunday, February 13, 2011

Knitting Together

This weekend, a performance artist from Amsterdam named Jean Hilkens went on holiday to New York City.

Jean is a graduate of art school, and has worked in costume design, but when he stumbled upon my local yarn shop, Yarntopia, he realized that it would be the perfect venue for his most recent project...

Hilkens, along with his partner, Nell Berger, have been working on a project which utilizes all of the unique properties of knitting.  They have created an enormous red tube of knitting, with at least six sets of circular knitting needles supporting the stitches.  The result of their creation is a fabric upon which multiple knitters can work at once.

The circle of red fabric I worked on with Hilkens was not the first he has created, although this one has travelled the world.  Hilkens promised that he would soon post on his website pictures of the red circle everywhere from an urban square in Amsterdam to the beach. We were lucky enough to see these beautiful pictures in one of Jean's albums.

That's me, in the upper right hand corner, knitting on the red circle!

This project does a wonderful job of illustrating everything that knitting is, while simultaneously inverting it.  Knitting is very much about community- in fact, knitting has evolved over time to have a subculture and community as important to its nature as its physical definition.  Strangely enough, knitting only requires one person, yet is rarely done alone.  Hilkens places his finger on the pulse of this paradox by creating a project which must be knit on by several knitters at once- if all of the knitters are not working, the fabric pulls and bunches, and prevents the knitting from continuing smoothly.  If one knitter moves too quickly or slowly, the next knitter is prevented from working on the piece.

The Big Red Circle of Knitting is an illustration of what knitting is, a literal creation of fabric, an inseparable community, a lesson in patience and diligent work.

Below is a picture of the square in Amsterdam where 75 knitters worked on a similar big red circle of knitting at the same time:

And knitters knitting garments onto their bodies:

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