WIPWed #83: All About the Art

For a while, I was like “Art yarn? But… why? What can you do with it?” And while I have yet to answer the second part of that question, I think I’ve finally understood the why.

I’ve been reading Jacey Boggs’ excellent book, Spin Art, and I’ve finally understood that people spin art yarn because it’s fun, beautiful, and offers endless opportunities for experimentation and discovery. Jacey is an incredible spinner and provides clear instructions and gorgeously inspirational photos, to boot. There’s also a DVD that I have yet to watch, but I’m already brimming with ideas for the techniques I’d like to try. My only wish is that she would have included photos of swatches knit with her lovely yarns, but perhaps she’s leaving that as incentive for us curious spinners to try things out for ourselves.

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Masham wool, colorway Indigo Dreams. Click for handspun page.

I am currently giving what seemed to be the most straightforward technique, thick-and-thin spinning, a try. I am spinning on the second whorl of my bulky flyer. This wool is easy to draft and it’s going pretty well but this certainly won’t be my prettiest yarn ever. I’m planning to keep this yarn as a singles, although there are additional art yarns one could create by plying or corespinning with it. Since I’m just dipping my toe in, though, I’m keeping it simple for now, and just enjoying the process.

Did you hear that? Little miss goal-oriented product-coveter is just enjoying the process. I swear, spinning has changed me. I don’t even care if I ever knit with this stuff, I just had to make it.

The Fiasco came across an interesting video about art yesterday. (Note: the guy in it is not an actual professor, he ‘teaches’ for a website that calls itself a university, but is not, and he only has a BA, not a MFA or PhD. So its legitimacy is suspect, but I’m sharing it anyway.) It features an artist who is criticizing modern art for it lack of skill, expertise, meaning, and style. It’s an interesting perspective and raises a series of questions: Does art have to be “good” to be art? Does it have to be “beautiful”? Who determines the standards? I am not versed in art history at all but I’ve often wandered the halls of modern art museums wondering why a blank canvas with one red stripe across it can be called “art” and feeling unsure as to what the point really is in pieces like that. What do you think?

As for other works-in-progress, here’s what I’ve been doing this week.

Garnet Tonic:

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

VG Zaftig, colorway Kiss of Cabernet. Click for project page.

My Tonic Water cowl is coming along nicely. I’m 6 repeats in and have just about 1/8 of the 2nd skein left to work. It’s getting close to cowl-sized, but I’m thinking I’ll need to break into the 3rd skein soon.


WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, colorway Tea & Alchemy. Click for project page.

Even though I gave in to my impulses and cast on a shawl for Malabrigo March, I have not completely forsaken my other knits. My dear Fiasco has been waiting patiently for this second sock and I’ve now safely turned the heel and am cruising down the foot. Soon, soon.

MalMarch Sundry:

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Yarns Dos, colorway Turquesa. Click for project page.

And about that Sundry shawl that I impulsively cast on for Malabrigo March? I regret nothing. Dos is such a delight to work with and I needed a little bit more garter stitch in my life. The swoop-y shape the shawl is forming is pretty fun, too.

Linking up with Small Things and Gracey’s Goodies this week. Yay for WIPs!


9 thoughts on “WIPWed #83: All About the Art

  1. Finally something I can sink my teeth into. The LYS here has handspun art yarn, I may buy some eventually. But on the art note. It’s a very fine line when it comes to opinions on modern art. I think you really need to educate yourself to know the whole story before you go and critique it. I learned so much in my art history class, and am relearning it as I prep projects for my art afterschool class. These “modern” artists all have a reason for why they do what they do, and unless you take the time to learn about them, or even just read the bios at the museum then yes, you will find yourself wondering why a blank canvas is art.
    Sorry, I hope i didn’t offend you, I didn’t mean to. I wonder about these things myself sometime, but it’s all philosophical at the end of the day.


    • Not offended at all, as a scientist I know how frustrating it is for my work not to be understood by the general public. And I wasn’t intending to critique modern art as a whole, just making the point that I don’t easily see the beauty/meaning/point in some of it.


  2. I understand Lisa’s comment, but if I have to know backstory to appreciate Art, it’s lost its reason to be art. A red swathe across a blank canvas is not art to me, but thats just MHO. I know everyone had a different opinion about beauty, but evoking thoughts of huh? or ick! Doesn’t make me thing ah beauty. Huh or Ick are for exhibitionists, which I don’t consider art.


  3. I got this book last week and I’m so looking forward to trying it out. I agree with you about spinning changing a person into someone who enjoys the process. I’ve ended up giving some of my handspun to people who appreciate it as something they would like to knit with because I simply can’t imagine using it myself… That said, I did knit using some of my handspun last month, and I love the cowl I made SO much.

    I’m really glad I’ve found something that I am happy to just sit and enjoy.


  4. I’ve always felt the same way about spinning art yarns, but now that I’ve been spinning a while, I’m starting to get curious to try new techniques and art yarns aren’t sounding so crazy to me!

    I was only an art history major for a year (as all great sentenced begin, right??), but I think the main thing for any art movement is context and technique – what makes some things that look so ridiculously simple such as the painting you mention is often that no one else was doing it at the time, and it introduced a new way of thinking about or approaching art. Now, we see all kind of copycat artists slapping some stripes of paint on a canvas who call it art – and I suppose, if it actually means something to them, it is art, but it’s not necessarily creative and it’s not adding something new to the vocaubulary (of course, copycat artists have always been a thing, but I’m getting off track!).

    Like most creative endeavors, art is subjective. The further you get away from realism, the more you’ll get a huge range of reactions from “this is beautiful” to “I don’t get it” to “this isn’t art!” I think the reaction is sometimes the point more than anything else, since it’s causing folks to stop and ponder, even if they decide they don’t like it. That’s pretty remarkable if someone can accomplish that these days, since most people seem to stare at their phones and totally miss the awesome stuff that’s happening all around them!


  5. Pingback: FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

  6. Love all your knitted stuff! As an artist, (and a knitter) myself, that question about what constitutes art is a difficult one I think to answer. I have been asked it a lot and my response has always been, its not for me to decide. I know what is art for me, its what I love to do, and I guess that’s all that matters. Maybe simply put, “to each his own. ” Thanks for sharing this blog. When I am not painting, I am knitting so I will be sure to stay tuned in! ~Rita



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