To prepare for a visit to "Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting," at the Museum of Arts & Design, I scanned this amulet (cotton yarn, slip stitch) to create a quarter-page booklet. Suggestion on the outside. On the inside is a brief message about the HIV crisis among women over 50. And instructions on how to double knit a Condom Amulet from Donna Druchanas' site.
Wearing this very amulet, I sat at a small round table in the midst of Sabrina Gschwandtner's installation, on knitting during wartime. Confronting the war on AIDS, I arranged three half- knit Condom Amulets on the table and began. Trying double knit, another knitter at the table continued one from Noro yarn. She quickly picked up how to do 3-needle finishing. It was inserted into Sabrina's Guest Book where participating knitters left comments.
Blog tragedy. Of the many photos snapped at the opening, this is only one that downloaded! Later that day, photographing elsewhere, noticed door to camera's Memory Stick had opened. Closed it, continued; many images have been lost. Second time with unruly door has opened--place I never touch. Electronic mystery.
In the time since I returned in 1995, museums in New York City have become larger and more "dignified" in presentations. The inclusion of controversial work, as the handout material stated, "...unorthodox methods that defy categorization as art, craft, or design," was pleasing to me. In the Interconnections category of the show, Sabrina was joined by Cat Mazza whose work is an amalgam of protest against sweatshops, computer technology, and knitting.
Enlarge the photo above to see the table covered with large-print instuctions for four patterns, also available as handouts. Sabrina has not taken a position on war--for or against--simply documented what knitters do. The USS Cole Slippers are from The Ships Project --these handmade slippers are sent to soldiers, salors, airmen, and marines deployed around the world. Blankets for Recovery are sent to the people of Afghanistan as well as returning soldiers in military hospitals. Instructions for a balaclava, used as helmet liner, to knit from 100% wool include the origin of the word. During the Crimean War in 1854, these were named after the town of Balaklava in the Crimea, excellent protection against the cold.
Most challenging knitwise is the fourth pattern, Body Count Mittens memorials to the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq at the time the mittens are made; each mitten as a different number and date. Lisa Anne Auerbach who designed these suggests, "...an excellent project to knit in public...encourage conversation about the knitting and occupation/war. Wear history sadly and thoughtfully." A artist of many parts, Sabrina Gschwandtner, also publishes KnitKnit magazine; issue #6, can be ordered on line, featured this pattern and a "Manifesto" by Auerbach.
It was my pleasure to have many wonderful interactions seated at this table. I met Bonnie Gray, an upper west side neighbor, who told me about the 5th anniversary party for the Upper West Side knit circle the night before. HERE are my photos from the "old days" in the now-closed Starbucks. She and I said we'd meet to knit again. Then I'll take another photo to replace the one lost. Lisa Tharpefrom San Francisco, independent radio producer, interviewed me--and talked about her big yarn stash and ambivalence about knitting.
A student at Colorado College, Jenny LaBudde, was taken with the idea of adapting the Condom Amulet project on campus. Which reminds me, readers, please consider using the idea in your own community. If you'd like to use the booklet pictured at the top, I'll send jpgs. The message of "Connections" is that it's always a good time to knit/crochet/weave to improve the world.