The Making of Starry Night (2022)
After more than a year in a creative slump, I finally decided to tackle a project I've had on my mind for over a decade. I designed this piece many years ago but I didn't feel that I had the skills to do it justice. I wanted to figure out a way to give the feel of painted strokes like Van Gogh's expressionism. I came up with a technique of splitting and combining very fine silk threads. These thread combinations were very hard to work with but gave me the results I was looking for. Below is the most challenging piece of micro-knitting I have done to date...Starry Night.
In order to get the desired effect of a painting, I split fine silk threads and combined them to create my own palette of "thread paints." Some of the silks were 2 ply and others were 3 ply. I found that if I combined two 1-ply threads, I got the correct gauge.
Before I begin knitting, I always create a paper mock-up of my design. This way I can get a pretty good idea of how the images will look at a small scale and if the pattern pieces fit together properly.
Because I was using a technique I had never tried, I knitted a sampler of various thread combinations. Most of Starry Night was knit using these thread combinations which gave me an almost limitless array of shades. Although I loved the look of it when it was knitted, the threads (having been unwound from the original spool) were very unruly and difficult to work with. I had A LOT of tangles!
I always start my projects with the sleeves. Then I start the body of the sweater and add the sleeves on when I get to the arm-pits. This allows me to minimize seams and create a neater sweater.
I knit with my chart in front of me at all times and frequently change it as I go. My original chart is always quite different from the one I have at the end. In the foreground you can see my palette of thread "paints".
Once the sleeves are added on, I can really begin to see the continuity of the pattern and how the sky will flow across all of the pieces.
I have been asked why I chose to knit these images into garments rather than a tapestry or wall hanging. The answer is 3-fold. I love the human form and so creating a sweater gives the piece a human, sculptural form. I also love the paradox of creating an object that takes the form of something you can wear, yet is impossible to wear.
Finally. I love how the form of the garment gives me the ability carry the image over several different areas with bumps and turns and that to see the whole thing, you must turn it or walk around it. The 3-D dimensionality of the "sweaterscape" creates a movement and life that a dimensional object doesn't have.
To make the collar, I decided to continue the sky upward. The knitting needles are a size 10/0 (diameter is .33 mm or .013") which I made myself out of surgical stainless steel. While knitting in the round with 4 needles, I can often lose stitches so I put little pieces of cork on the ends to prevent stitches from falling off the ends.
Knitters frequently ask me about the inside of my work so here it is in all of its messy reality.
The collar is ringed with golden bobbles (just this one row of bobbles took me an entire 10 hour day to complete). Once my row of bobbles were completed, I continued knitting so that I could add a signature and turn that part to the inside
Signed by knitting my name and date on the inside "Althea Crome 2022"
Although you can't see it, I have woven in bits of 24 karat gold threads around the shoulders and neck to give a bit of sparkle to the sky.
Starry Night (2022) measures 1.3" x 1.6" and is crafted with 50,000 (76 stitches/inch) and took over
500+ hours to create using over 70 different colors of silk thread including thread combinations. The piece will make its debut at the Tom Bishop Chicago International Show April 30-May 1, 2022.
Until Next Time Thank you for being a part of the
D. Thomas Miniatures Community!