Occasionally as a designer, the opportunity arises to really explore the art of knitting. When I was in college, knitting was another artform to me, much like the metals, encaustic and foam core board I was used to playing with. I liked that it was an additive, structural process. As I was studying modern art, I started seeing all mediums in a different way; there’s so much more possibility in any medium than can be expressed in its intended use. This, to me, was as true for oil paints as it was for yarn.
One concept I often explored in my art was the balance of hard/soft. That old theme was reinvigorated when I started to really think about the linear, almost mechanical process of knitting with something so soft and changeable as yarn. Pondering artists like Chuck Close, Warhol and Kandinsky, I thought, what if they were knitters? What would they do with yarn? And so I started to play.
There are few things that evoke the idea of softness and organic lines like a flower, and few things that show a harsh disconnect with nature better than the digital pixel. This was an ideally dischordant place to start a project. If I reduced something as supple and natural as a flower to a grid of unnatural, hexidecimal colors, could I atrificially replace that softness in another medium?
Needless to say, this was a problem I just had to tackle. First, I had to take all the nature out of the natural flower by pixellating it.
And then, retranslate that information into a knitted picture. And the result is the Viola Afghan!
This afghan is made of 204 individual, unique garter stitch squares. They’re as simple as it gets – plain, striped, mitered, bias and concentric. Individually, they aren’t much to look at. But once you put them all together – it’s a totally different story!
The simplicity of the knitting reflects the simplicity of the flower, but when you look close up, the harsh straight lines of the Garter stitch echo its digital inspiration. Whether you’re in the ‘art imitates life’ camp or feel that”life imitates art”, one thing is for sure – like the beautiful flower, the Viola Afghan is surely greater than the sum of its parts!