Knitting in Circles, Lake Grace Multi-Artspace, Western Australia
What is the project?
This project, a series of interactive public knitting events, honours the traditions of inter-generational and community learning. Domestic arts and crafts can play a very important role in our small sports orientated country communities. In generations past they have provided a means from which to clothe our families, decorate our homes and keep us warm.
In contemporary times participating in art and craft groups creates opportunities to socialize, make lifelong friends and celebrate important events while allowing for the creative expression of individuals, and the sharing of time-honoured skills between all ages in a nurturing environment. The idea was to learn from each other and create communal conversations as we all worked on the same piece of work.
We started on ring shapes and evolved to hyperbolic forms on a circular base which I had been previously working with in my studio practice. The pieces were created with multiple pairs of 80cm circular needles, starting with approx 80 stitches per set of needles and joining the stitches up with the person either side to create one large circle that was worked on together. The whole piece of worked rotated anticlockwise around the circle of knitters as the stitches were knitted from left to right. We increased stitches every 4th or 5th rows to allow for the ever increasing diameter of the circle and more intensively to create the hyperbolic fluted edges.
Of course this is all fine while all of you knit at the same speed, but when the stitches bank up on one set of needles due to the different speeds of knitters, we needed to do some “social engineering” So faster knitters swapped places with the learners enabling a new set of conversations to happen. There was much laughing, chitchat and joking and working out things. A sense of connection and community to the other people in the group was obvious.
A few weeks in to the project some of the ladies started knitting circles at home, and as they brought the pieces into the art space it was great to see the variations that were starting to happen. It is amazing what a small difference in increasing rates, change of patterns, the number of stitches or number of yarns knitted together, can make to the end result.
Other participants moved on to tubes as well, there is one over 10 foot long and 144 stitches round. Absolutely huge. Tubes are good to feature stitch patterns, cables and lacework. See the Art2Wear costumes in the slide show that were made from the smaller pieces.
DIRECTIONS FOR KNITTING YOUR OWN CIRCLE
Choose any size circular needle.
Choose any yarn, wool, acrylic, thread, or you could even use wire, plastic strips, recycled clothing strips - so long as you can knit it, its OK.
Cast on as many stitches to cover the length of your needles plus 10 – enough to stretch from end to end – about 90sts for a size 8mm 80cm circular
- Row 1. Making sure stitches are not twisted around needles (ie bottom of the stitches are all facing down), Join up 1st and last stitch by purling both together, purl whole row.
- Row 2. Knit whole row
- Row 3. Knit whole row
- Rows 4 & 5. *Knit 4 stitches, increase in the back of the 5th* repeat for whole row.
- Rows 6-9. Knit whole rows.
- Row 10. Repeat row 5. (Increase row)
- Row 11-15. Knit whole rows.
You can cast off anytime from now on or just keep knitting, remembering to increase approx every 5 rows. This helps it sit flat. Use any colours, one colour, two colours or change colours every row, its all OK.
Knitting in Circles - Multi People
If you want to do a circle with another person, follow the instructions below. This works with two to any number of people. The tricky bit is getting started.
- Sit facing the other participants as close as you can.
- Cast on 80+10sts each.
- Making sure your stitches are straight, not spiralling around the needle, retaining the working needle in your RIGHT hand and let the other end drop free dangling to your right side.
- Now take the free end of the needle from the person on your left in your left hand.
- Slide their stitches down the needle and join your stitches to their end stitch (knit your first stitch and their last stitch together).
Knit to your hearts content. It is most comfortable with an 80cm length of needle if you are knitting with someone else, and it helps to push the stitches over to them. If you have shorter needles just use less stitches (roughly 1stitch/cm), and add a few more but make sure it reaches from end to end of the needles when you cast on. You can have as many people as you want knit on the same piece of work or you can just do it with two! Enjoy and send me some pics!