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Contemporary Knitting
for textile artists

From the back cover:

An exciting guide to creative hand knitting for adventurous knitters, textile artists and jewellery artists who wish to explore the knitting genre and take their work to a new level.

Explore a variety of materials, from inventive use of wool, rope and fabric, through more unusual textiles such as paper, elastic, plant materials, plastics, wire and recycled materials, to knitting with fragile or inflexible products such as cane and rattan.

Choose from innovative ideas and techniques such as adding borders, edges and extensions to incorporating beads, found objects and hardware. Create stunning three-dimensional and freestanding forms or simply embellish existing work, from wrapping and binding to dyeing and felting. Instructions and techniques are easy to follow, while the author's organic and versatile pieces are a wonderful source of guidance and inspiration throughout.

From the front flap:

For fibre artists and craft makers who wish to develop their work further, this exciting and innovative guide covers a range of knitting techniques worked in diverse and unusual materials such as wire, paper yarn, plant materials and plastics, found and recycled materials, rope and elastics.

The author's stunning work is accompanied by in-depth information relating to technique, fibres and materials and their unique properties. Wonderfully illustrated with the best contemporary knitted textiles and jewellery available today, the book covers:

  • A guide to tools and equipment, including needle types and sizes, circular needles and knitting frames.
  • Creative and inventive use of materials including fabric and textiles, rope, string, luxury fibres such as silk, polyester and elastic, paper, wire, recycled materials such as cable, and rattan and cane.
  • Create chunky big knits for wall and floor coverings and experiment with exciting and interesting textures such as ridges and furrows and double-sided knitting techniques.
  • Achieve exciting sculptural effects by adding edges, borders and extensions and integrating wavy edges, ripples and shapes.
  • Patterns and instructions for knitting with beads, covering not only purchased beads but original ideas for handmade beads, recycled and salvaged objects and hardware such as washers and nuts and bolts.
  • Take your work into three dimensions with stunning vessels and freestanding forms, based on squares, pentagons, hexagons, cones and cylinders. These impressive sculptures can be developed further by adding branching forms.
  • Incorporate pattern to introduce bright attractive colours, emphasize form, and add interest to your work.
  • Striking ideas for embellishment, from wrapping and binding to felting and using dyes and paints.

About the Author:
Ruth Lee is a textile artist and knit designer. She has taught knit-based techniques at Cumbria Institute of the Arts for over 20 years. She writes regularly for Knitting magazine and her work has been exhibited by the Crafts Council in the UK and on the V & A knitting designers website.

From the Introduction:
With the current revival in hand knitting gathering momentum many people have become interested in using traditional two- and three-dimensional knitting in new and innovative ways, as a method of communicating ideas rather than simply as technique for its own sake. This book sets knitting in a modern context for the contemporary fibre artist, craft maker, textiles student and enthusiast. Use it as an inspirational resource to help you to develop your own practice further, for example by moving into outdoor installation work, gallery pieces, wearable art and body adornment.

Throughout the book I place emphasis on the relationship between actual making and the visual language of art and design. Experimental surfaces and structures are sampled in a range of naturally occurring and synthetic materials, such as wire, paper yarn, plant materials and plastics, found and recycled materials, rope and elastics. Instructions on producing these samples are accompanied by in-depth information on technique, and the individual properties of fibres and other materials, giving you a sound understanding of all aspects of the processes involved. By 'thinking with your hands' you will be exploring the connection between these different facets of knitting, and simultaneously unlocking your creativity. You do not need to have a traditional art and design background - contemporary knitting is about original thinking and a sensitive handling of technique, materials and concepts.

Knitting is not an esoteric mystery. It is a logical process whereby knit stitches, purl stitches, or a combination of knit and purl stitches, form one unit of pattern that then builds through repetition into simple or complex structures. There is no mystery to the stitches: a purl stitch is simply a knit stitch in reverse, with the ridge or knot of the purl stitch facing towards the knitter, rather than away. Stitches can be knitted two together, increased or decreased, worked into more than once, slipped or cast on or off in any number of configurations. Whatever you are doing to the stitch, it will always be worked with the yarn at the back of the knitting (for knit stitches) or with the yarn at the front of the knitting (for purl stitches). Knit and purl stitches are the building blocks for all the different stitch patterns in knitting, from rib patterns, cables, lace, textured patterns and colourful jacquards to stocking stitch, garter stitch and free-form knitting. Fundamentally, knitting is all about the relationship between stitches, gauge (tension), knitting medium and finished fabric. In this book, knitting surfaces and three-dimensional forms are simply seen as an extension of this relationship, which is similar to the way a drawing is constructed from a series of lines and marks in various media on a chosen drawing surface. Yarns and fibres substitute for drawing's pen, pencil or charcoal, while stitch structures compare to making a mark on a surface. Indeed, one might think of knitting sample patches as a way of making thumbnail sketches and drawings - only, in this case, with knitting needles and yarn.

Our Comment:
A highly informative, well illustrated book.

Hard cover, 128 pages.
Price: $49.90 ($45.36)