Knitted rugs took a few bounces before they settled into the rather fabulous art form they are now. I first saw the idea of knitting VERY bulky fiber in AlterKnits, where Leigh Radford cut up bright pink t-shirts and knitted a little bathmat. In Mason Dixon Knitting, Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne showed some knitted rugs and made mention of knitting quilts. They didn’t take the idea much past oversized log cabin squares, which a quick experiment proved were not for me. I don’t like all that casting on and picking up. I’d rather sew parts together.
Finally, Deborah New’s Unexpected Knitting provided the push to get over the top. I tried knitting her 7-row jacket out of recycled fiber and couldn’t manage 100 stitches on a needle at the same time. I changed needles and approach, using fewer stitches and long stripes quickly turned to quilt blocks, and the next thing I knew, I was playing with log cabin settings. My water bill was 1000 gallons higher than normal that first December and for a day or two, I was on the lookout for leaks. Realized then that it was all the extra laundry I was doing to keep up with the fabric I was finding.
Knitted rugs are made from 100% post-consumer upcycled fabric (used clothing) which is washed, machine-dried, sliced to ribbons and wound into balls. The rugs can be machine washed in cold water and tumble-dried.
I have given over an entire room to the processing and storage necessary to stockpile the inventory it takes to knit an interesting rug. Not long after I started this little project, I decided I was going to knit 100 rugs and see what happened, knowing that I would learn something along the way and that it was impossible to predict what it was that I would learn. They continue to get better.
My carvings are drawn from historical and natural sources, and from that arena where fantasy and nature meet. Translating inspiration from plants, animals, or surface design into the 3D and dimensionally-constrained raw material of a log so that the carving does not immediately reveal its origin as a tree is an on-going challenge.
I have been creating wood sculpture with a chainsaw since 2000. I am fascinated with the possibilities and the limits of the wood medium; how the log itself contributes to the nature of the final art and how the sculpture both reveals its origins and moves away from its original nature. I use trees that have been removed because of prior damage from construction or weather. Because these are “yard trees” unacceptable to saw mills, the wood would otherwise be lost if not turned into art. Most of the creations that come off my saw have themselves asked to be released from the log; my only purpose is to clear away the wood that’s “not the art” (and add the finish that will preserve the sculpture).
An interest in Celtic imagery (the knot work) and its sources led to Neolithic symbolism, which has turned out to be a rich trove of material for carvings that speak powerfully.
Over the years, my sculpture has broadened to include many subjects, both figurative and abstract. Frustration with the physical and technical limits of log sculpture has led me to branch out into furniture. In addition, I experiment with other media, creating both vernacular art for the garden and decorative paintings, textiles, and jewelry.