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A little over a year ago I met artist Jennifer Wroblewski when our friend Cara Davis Conomos brought her to a little knitting event in the East Village that I’d had a hand in organizing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jen’s sweater. It was simple, but striking and unusual. Jen struck me as intrepid, not just because she had knit a sweater that fit, but because she had also designed the sweater. But more about the sweater later.
It turns out that of course Jen is intrepid; she’s an artist. She’s used to figuring out materials and methods and making them do what she wants them to do. Sweaters are no exception.
Jen recently sent me some images of her art, which recently has gone in a fiber-ish and three-dimensional direction, using wires and cables and other obsolete electronic detritus.
See the knitting?
Spit-splicing is not a viable technique here.
The work is called Knitting After the Apocalypse. Here’s what Jen told me about it:
“All of this material is donated by friends and neighbors, making it something of a community based effort. I frame the project as the trained behavior of a deranged homemaker. Making do as a crafter/mother in a post-apocalyptic environment. I also talk about using recycled materials as a way of redressing the excesses of my consumer behavior.”
It’s fascinating to look at. I love the painted bits. I hope to see it in person one day.
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program
Would you like to see Jen’s sweaters? Of course you would. There’s no shame in being interested in sweaters. We’re all knitters here.
Jen kindly shared some knitterly notes on her process:
“Every sweater is a one of a kind gift to a specific person. The body of each sweater is top down raglan. (Brick by Clare Lee on Ravelry is a great free pattern for this part.) The sleeves are knit to be very tight like gloves. I do my own design/measuring as I knit. I am completely motivated by color and fiber so the yarns change every time I make a new sweater.”
“Big Red was the first one I made, and the body is made with Manos Del Uruguay Maxima in Zinnia, with sleeves in some obsolete Babette from Miss Babs. This is before I figured out the sleeves need thumb holes.”
“Heather is bulky black wool blend (can’t remember the brand), knit on a 9 needle with sleeves knit on double-sided size 4 needles. The blue sleeve is a Miss Babs Babette color from 2014. The other sleeve has a Miss Babs as well as a Kismet fiber works silk/merino in Larc’s Song.”
“Funny Face I made for myself. It is also with Debbie Bliss BFL in charcoal. The sleeves are silk. The pink sleeve is Miss Babs Dark Coral Mulberry Silk, knit three together on size 4 double-pointed needles. The orange sleeve is Miss Babs Isadora French Marigold, also knit in 3-ply on size 4 double pointed needles.”
“Lexie is made with Debbie Bliss BFL in the color charcoal. The arms are a mixture of four different Miss Babs and more of the Kismet Larc’s Song.”
“The cape over the sweater is from a pattern on Ravelry called L’Enveloppe by Sally Melville. It is in seed stitch in two plies of various scraps of Miss Babs from my basket. (The two plies are each a different color, giving it a really pixelated appearance in real life.)”
I want to make one of these. I love the combination of graphic interest with wearability. These sweaters do not look like they are screaming for attention, or that they are “arty,” but they have so much interest and appeal. I’m tremendously inspired by Jen, her work and her sweaters, and awed by the fact–often relearned–that we knitters have true artists in our midst. Thank you, Jen. Please keep on, and let us know what you do next.