Friday, 7 July 2017

Yarn Art

Dave Cole, Fiberglass Teddy Bear (2003). Photo by David Cole

I admit it: I'm a complete art geek.  When I first started working at McAree Brothers last September, I was ridiculously excited when I first discovered Adriafil's art-inspired KnitCol yarn, and even more so when I learnt from Heather's Arne & Carlos blog post that each of the colourways in Arne and Carlos’ Regia 4 Ply Design Line sock yarn is inspired by different Edvard Munch paintings.  In short, I think the idea of combining knitting and art is just wonderful, and so I’ve been so happy to find that there’s a large number of modern artists across the world who are using yarn within their work. Here’s a little bit about just three of them:

Dave Cole
New York-based artist Dave Cole often knits with unusual materials.  His portfolio includes a 30’ x 20’ American flag (The Knitting Machine, 2005), knitted by giant needles mounted on cranes and industrial equipment; enormous teddy bears knit from lead ribbon and fibreglass; and a blanket made from electrical cables (Electric Blanket, 1998).  Cole's work “crosses conceptual craft and political assemblage” (Karen Kurczynski, ‘Art Papers’, Nov/Dec 2008 [1]), and his eerie, larger-than-life reimagining of everyday objects and concepts is often interpreted as a “criticism of industry, patriotism” and the increasing mechanism of daily life (Sarah Claypole, ‘Dave Cole: Political Fine Art Crafting’, 2011 [2])

Photo by Mass MoCA from

Robere Mertens
Sound designer and artist Robere Mertens creates huge wooly, post-apocalyptic sculpture pieces in response to sound and movement: for his installation, Going Green which was created inside a train carriage for the Art on Track exhibition (2008), Mertens crocheted vast nets and swathes of fabric, crocheting “in different directions based on different audio cues”. The nature-inspired, organic shapes Mertens created provided striking contrast to the industrial interior of the train carriage and the work proved incredibly popular and has subsequently been widely exhibited at gallery and public buildings including The Flat Iron Building, ArtWorks, and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Around 3am on Christmas Eve of 2010, Polish-born artist Olek (Agata Oleksia) crept up to the iconic Charging Bull (1989) statue on Wall Street, sewing needles and crochet hooks in hand, and covered the cast iron statue in a neon purple and pink crocheted suit.  Her addition to the statue drew praise and amusement along with fierce criticism, and certainly got people talking about graffiti, knitting, and crochet and their place within fine art.  The installation, Projet B was removed later that day but still continues to draw commentary even now: Olek has stated that her intention was to pay homage to Wall Street Bull’s creator, Arturo di Modica, who originally installed Charging Bull without permission from the local authories, however her covering of di Modica’s statue has also been interpreted as criticism of the perceived hyper-masculine culture in Wall Street or an attack on western capitalist ideology.

Photo from

Inspired to find out more about artists who use yarn and textiles as their medium?  Textile Artist is a great resource for interviews, reviews, and articles from the textile art community.  If you’re an artist who uses yarn in their work, we’d love to hear from you about what inspires you.  Give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter or get in touch using the comments section below.

Post  by Emily in our Edinburgh shop