Amy Twigger Holroyd can’t help but stand out in the world of knitting. Founder of ‘slow fashion’ knitwear label Keep & Share she also runs knitting workshops, creates knitting patterns and kits, runs communal projects in various contexts such as music festivals and creates conceptual pieces exploring issues of authorship, ownership and longevity. Alongside these projects she’s also doing a full-time PhD at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design looking at the impact of making on fashion well-being. But it’s her involvement in the development of ‘stitch hacking’ and ‘pattern blagging’ that has caught my eye…..
I’ve developed processes for tinkering with existing knitted garments – which I call ‘stitch-hacking‘ – and for adapting existing patterns – ‘pattern-blagging’. I use these techniques to include personal text-based information, such as names, dates and places, within the structure of the knitting. I feel that these variations can create a different – and perhaps more enduring – relationship between the maker and the garment.
The stitch-hacking technique is based on a straightforward repair technique, used by both hand and machine knitters to correct mistakes. I’m using it to ‘repair’ plain fabric to a different design. I’d been thinking about ownership and making, and then the idea suddenly came to me one day when I was repairing a mistake in a cardigan I was knitting.
Amy’s concept was first presented at the In The Loop 2 knitting conference last year and was well received. The discussions around disposable fashion and sustainability are more important now than ever and Amy offers a wonderfully creative alternative to ‘dropping your old knits off at the charity shop’. In the year since ‘In The Loop 2’ Amy has run many workshops on stitch-hacking, encouraging amateur knitters to develop the confidence to ‘hack’ or ‘blag’.
People seem to really like the technique, and leave the workshop planning what ‘hacks’ they can do to the knitted garments in their wardrobes! I’m quite ambitious as a maker, so I’ve done some very intricate and time-consuming pieces, but I don’t want that to put others off – I love the idea of people just hacking their initials, or the date, quite simply into a garment – or knitting them into a garment that they’re making.
As of October 8th 2011 Amy is exhibiting at London yarn shop and gallery Prick Your Finger for 6 weeks.
The work being shown at Prick Your Finger relates to my desire to encourage amateur knitters to adapt knitting patterns and ‘tinker’ with existing garments, to put themselves into the things they make and own. While the very identity of a folk craft like knitting is about shared traditions and set patterns, there is a wonderful history of makers deviating from patterns and creating individual adaptations.
If you can’t get to London Amy will be showing more of her work in the ‘Made in the Middle‘ exhibition of contemporary craft which will tour the Midlands from Feb 2012 for 18 months.
If you’re inspired and want to have a go yourself, Amy’s next Stitch-hacking workshop is at her studio in Herefordshire on 17 March 2012. Click here for more info.