Sunday, 31 October 2010

blanka sperkova

Blanka Sperkova is a jewellery designer who is probably best known for her organic wire sculptures.

She has perfected her unique way of working, a form of finger knitting inspired by traditional wire and lace making techniques from her Slovakian homeland.

Whilst neither a fashion designer nor a machine knitter, I came across Sperkova's sculptures in my search for three dimensional knits, and was fascinated by the degree of freedom of manipulation her chosen media allows. I am still uncertain in which direction my work is or interiors? It is helpful to see this designers work and contemplate this.

She creates internal forms, experimenting with lighting and film to animate the sculptures, so that the shadows cast become more expressive than the original object.

"My objects take shape from within themselves; they anticipate themselves. There is matter, then form. Or there is form, then matter."
The use of light and shadow fits well with the latter two pieces of work shown on my first blog. I have used laser cut coloured acetate to form a pattern, but it only really works when it is backlit, then a whole new dimension is added.

Sperkova's designs led me to look further into knitting with wire, and specifically machine knitting with wire. I consulted 'Textile Techniques in Metal' by Arline Fisch.

It would appear that the biggest problem when knitting wire on a knitting machine is tension control. It is also advisable to cast on in yarn to begin with, then knit 1 row with yarn & metal together, before dropping the yarn and knitting solely with wire.

Materials that knit well are: fine silver wire, fine brass wire and copper insulation & electrical wire.
Tubular knitting with a knitting dolly or sock machine also appears to be a successful pursuit.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

liz collins

Liz Collins is an American designer and artist who combines machine knitting with techniques of fabric manipulation to create wearable art pieces.

Whilst studying for her degree she came across the idea of 'knit grafting', a technique of hanging fabric from the latch needles during the process of machine knitting. This technique has allowed her to layer and fuse varying fabrics into her designs, creating sculptural forms over a tightly knitted bodice.

"It was a form of alchemy - turning simple cones of yarn into three dimensional, multilayered, and wearable pieces in a very short time frame."
The idea of constructing a multilayered and multi textured fabric is an interesting one. Like Sandra Backlund, Collins also says that the fabric itself is of 'perpetual ongoing inspiration' to her.

I like the way that Collins manipulates form whilst the knitting is still on the machine, building the garment and the fabric simultaneously.

One of my points of research is to look at the different ways in which I could construct shapes, other than by altering the surface of the fabric. I am interested in the way seams could be joined and moved to alter form, creating shapes from a single piece of fabric and examining contouring, shaping and placement within this theme. The technique of 'fabric grafting' is not unknown to me, and is a definite point of interest when thinking of alternative ways to join seams.

Collins is also known for working with experimental materials, something else I am keen to research on this MA. She is quite strategic in her methods, taking advantage of the natural stretch in the knitting, working with complimentary and contrasting fabrics to create shape, volume and silhouette.

Looking at this designers work has made me think a lot about the types of yarns I am using, and the possibilities and differences I could create within a technique by using high or low twist yarns, or by using a combination of natural and manmade fibres to experiment with shrinkage or expansion in the natural elements when heated or washed.

Friday, 29 October 2010

sandra backlund

Sandra Backlund is a Swedish fashion designer best known for her chunky architectural knitwear. She has to be one of the most recognised and exciting contemporary knitwear designers in Europe.

Her innovative designs are pieced together from individually crafted elements that evolve into three dimensional formations.

These designs are constructed textiles at its extreme. They verge on the borders of wearable art, and are certainly created through a process more affiliated with sulpture than fashion design.

She says about her designs:
"My work is very personal to me. I improvise and allow myself to loose control and see what happens if I do not think so much about practical things. The human body is always the starting point. I am really fascinated by all the ways you can highlight, distort and transform the natural silhouette with clothes and accessories."
Backlund's designs fascinate me, and as inspiration for my proposed creative project, they certainly give me a lot to contemplate concerning design & construction. I feel the urge to unpick and unravel,  to deconstruct and dissect.

Her work is quite different to my intended outcomes as she uses mainly hand knit and crochet techniques, working in heavy yarns as opposed to my finer machine knitted samples.

Mostly I am in awe of her concept. In a recent interview with Blend magazine she explains how her work is never planned, and how important the act of improvisation through coincidence and accident is in the evolution of her designs.

This is certainly an ethos I would like to aspire to. I think the process of knit naturally lends itself to this way of working as a fabric is created from scratch. I recognise that often losing count or forgetting to change colour can result in a more interesting effect than the one that was originally being strived for.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


I am a student studying at Bath Spa University for an MA Design: Textiles. This blog will show the online development of my research and progression of my creative work throughout the course. I am a knitter, and am fascinated by constructed and constructing textiles.

My aim is to create an aesthetically pleasing design based on three dimensional mathematical principles. I have always felt that writing a knitting pattern is akin to writing a formula that allows me to calculate a unique equation, or in this case, creation. Can knitting be scientific? Can maths be beautiful? By blurring the lines between the 'domestic' and the 'academic' I intend to create a formula that satisfies everyone, communicating unfamiliar ideas through accessible design.

Here are some recent samples I have been working on: