spinhandspun designs

Ugly Necklace Complete!
February 24, 2010, 5:19 PM
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On February 13th, Twin Cities Makers hosted their first annual Minne-Maker Faire. Spinhandspun joined the makers, and visitors spent the afternoon learning how to make wet felted and needle felted beads for an ugly necklace collaboration.

Photos of the finished piece can be found below, will be submitted to the 2010 Land of Odds Ugly Necklace Contest. For more photos of February’s Minne-Faire at the Hack Factory, visit TCM’s Flickr pool.

A flock of Mini-Minne-Makers agitates raw fibers into felted beads.
Photography by danbackslide

The Ugly Necklace

The Ugly Necklace (detail)


Vodafone Controversy
February 21, 2010, 4:17 PM
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A recent Vodafone campaign has guerrilla knitters dropping stitches left and right..

The commercial features a trendy group of teenagers who text the ‘Granny Squad’ for knitting lessons, and yarnbomb Dublin overnight.  While their protagonist is initially inspired by an authentic Irish-made hat, the remainder of Vodafone’s campaign is decidedly artificial.

Vodafone’s yarnbombs parade as the work of tea-sipping crafters, yet in 24 hours, their machine-knit installations span impossible-to-reach-statures and three story support beams.  Rather than exhaling a handmade breath of humanity into Dublin’s urban landscape, Vodafone’s cozies uphold the mechanized society guerrilla knitters critique, and undermine the true yarnbomber’s patience, stealth, and artistic vision.

Unlike advertising agencies, guerrilla movements are inherently anti-establishment.  Yet their mainstream assimilation should come as no surprise.  Mad men frequently appropriate counterculture imagery into ads because it appeals to their ultimate target market: youth, whose pre-packaged rebellions signify burgeoning independence.

Here, Vodafone fuses their identity with the craft’s growing popularity by highlighting young (and male!) knitters.  Unfortunately, their assertion that urban knitting is simply cute and fun is retroactive, and defeats the yarnbomber’s original work advancing her craft as an art form.

For mainstream audiences, Vodafone is right to say it “turns out it’s easy to put a smile on people’s faces…” if you’re a multi-million dollar corporation.  But hardworking guerrilla knitters, have no fear; the ad proves that our efforts have been appreciated.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we now face the challenge of advancing the movement beyond its obvious pole, tree, bench, and statue tagging.  Now is our chance to develop new innovations and unpredictable techniques in the realm of guerrilla craftivism.

For more on the Vodafone controversy, check out The Electric Sheep’s hilarious and poignant Podcast below.

Sweet Porridge: A Stop Motion Animation
February 15, 2010, 11:50 PM
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This afternoon, I uploaded a high quality version of my Sweet Porridge stop motion animation to Spinhandspun’s Youtube account. The original was completed in 2007, and features a cardboard house of thrifted furniture whose handmade inhabitants are overcome by a porridge avalanche.

If it existed, The Making of Sweet Porridge would feature me stabbing myself in the hand while watching Baraka (specifically, the part with the chicks), flinging six quarts of oatmeal into the Wisconsin snow, and confusion upon realizing (at the critique) that our prompt was to address the cult of celebrity in mass culture.

This particular story has been adapted and translated into AT&T Text to Speech from a Grimm’s fairy tale, and the dolls are embellished with yarn from upholstered wire armatures.

I had spent the summer of ’06 learning how to spin wool, and the original version was my first YouTube video. Its upload on Valentine’s Day 2007 marks the beginning of the pseudonym Spinhandspun. Happy third anniversary, alter-ego.

It’s Been a Classy Run… And Now For My Valentine’s Day Post!
February 9, 2010, 3:58 PM
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Free Valentine’s Day Pattern: Edible Knitted Thong
by Dawn Payne

Valentine's Day Knitting

Licorice Knitted Valentine's Day Thong

This Valentine’s Day, adult entertainment star Dawn Payne presents her newest excursion into the realm of all-things-naughty via her pattern entitled “302 Calories” (a.k.a. an Edible Knitted Red Lace Thong).

Materials? One set of chopsticks, and a couple packs of Red Lace licorice.

Dawn Payne, my friend, you are a laugh riot. And I quote, “Always wanted a pair of edible panties?.. Cast on at the beginning of a movie, and the panties will be ready for dessert after the credits!”

For the full pattern, visit: 302 Calories

Aeolia: Knitwear Incorporates Stretch Sensor Technology

Aeolia is a multidisciplinary collaboration headed by Philip Breedon, Amanda Briggs-Goode, and Sarah Kettley at Nottingham Trent University.  Through the marriage of textiles and technology, each Aeolia garments transform their wearers’ spatial interactions into low frequency feedback using Merlin Stretch Sensors.

Each of the back forms (left) incorporates the Merlin stretch sensor into an aesthetic exploration of textile technique mapped to the body through weaving, knitting, and embroidery. In motion, the elastic fit of Bekaert yarn activates its stretch sensors by changing the length of their conductive knitted path.

Aeolia’s collaborators write, “In combining feedback from remote land based sensors below, upon and above the earth with biological data from the individual wearers of the body pieces, the work draws attention to different forms of engagement with the world.”

Martha Glazzard originally developed these knitted stretch sensor technologies (below). In addition to utilizing her technique, Aeolia incorporates embroidery work by Tina Downes, weaving by Nigel Marshall, and garment fitting by Karen Harrigan.

The project has since expanded to encompass an Aeolia Cello, which uses Glazzard’s knitted stretch sensors in combination with conductive thread to create a wearable musical instrument. The Aeolia team will be taking its cello garment to the Tangible and Embedded Interaction 2010 Conference at the Media Lab, MIT later this week.

Watch the cello shirt in action during its dress rehearsal:

Object vs. Installation vs. Photograph vs. Exhibition
January 13, 2010, 4:58 PM
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Earlier this year, Martyn Smith of Oldroads.org asked me a profound question regarding the viewer’s experience of public yarn art. He separated my work [read, guerrilla knitters: our work] into four categories:

  1. The knitted object itself
  2. This object in installation
  3. The installation’s document in photographic form
  4. The photograph or object’s installation in a gallery

His question?

Which of these four categories is the art?

At the time, I argued that all categories were art, with each experience prompting different aesthetic interpretations.

Among other things, the object itself conjures knitting’s associations with time, focus, patience, design, and (for some) its historical framework as a woman’s craft.

Of course, the experience of a public installation depends on its intended goal, be it to challenge knitting’s reputation as a pastoral craft-form intended to keep women occupied in the home, juxtapose our industrial landscapes with handmade reminders of our humanity, reclaim public objects as our own, or to offer an unexpected change in scenery.

The photograph, then, documents the artist’s act and intended public statement, yet lacks the transcendental “ah” moment of an unforeseen first-hand encounter. Roland Barthes best describes the difference between a photograph and the human experience it represents in his book Camera Lucida. He writes, “The Photograph… becomes a bizarre medium, a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time: a temporal hallucination, so to speak, a modest, shared hallucination… a mad image, chafed by reality.”

Installed in a gallery, the craft is validated and accepted as a form of high art. But like a photograph, guerrilla knitting exhibitions deny viewers the excitement and secrecy of discovering these works on the streets.

Martyn’s question is alluring, and I find myself reconfiguring my original response near-daily.

I am curious, guerrilla knitters: What is your response? I would like to hear your thoughts in the comments section of this page, and will pose the same question in a forum on Subversiveyarn.ning.