Distinguishing Craft from Artistic Knitters

The country’s coronavirus lockdown order has made a lot of stay-at-home people picking up their long-forgotten knitting needles, or learning the craft. Now that they are staycationers right in their homes, albeit not by choice, they have returned to, or have turned their attention to knitting because they find it relaxing.

It is in fact quite noticeable that there is an increasing number of knitting projects being shared at Instagram. The IG photos probably spurred the knitting trend even among the youth. Actually, learning how to knit is no longer a daunting task, as there are numerous how-to-knitting videos available online, from teaching the basic steps and stitches, to knitting a simple wooly project.

That being said, it brings us to mind the unresolved debate of whether knitting can be considered a form of art. The topic has become argumentative as there are now modern artists who have incorporated knitting techniques, or have thrown in knitted articles in creating or building their installations.

When is Knitting a Craft and When Is It an Art

Take note that we have rephrased the question, rather than simply ask if knitting is a craft or art.

Knitting is a craft that is easy to learn since the process involves repetitive motions of pulling yarns in and out with a needle, to create and mesh loops until a project attains completion. If a knitter faithfully followed instructions of a pattern to create a sweater with intricate designs, does that make him or her an artist?

That is where the argument lies, because art in its truest sense does not involve mechanical or repeated actions that do not involve or require visualising the outcome. More so today when there is an assortment of downloadable patterns and knitting tools like yarn bowls, yarn winders and blocking wires that make knitting a lot easier.

Suzanne Isken, the Executive Director of Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, California remarked in an interview that

For a person to be recognized as a trained artist, he has to demonstrate a certain level of skill in creating something out of a certain medium”..”throwing a piece of knitted yarn on an installation piece does not make that person a fiber artist.”

Her remarks basically suggest that for a knitter to be considered an artist, he or she must have conceptualised an original design for which his or her artistic skills were applied in making that design work for a knitting project. Modern artistic knitters usually work on designs by using a mood board that helps in visualising a complex idea for a knitwear. Based on their visualisation of a concept, artistic knitters decide on the type and colors of yarn to use.

To add style to a design, they experiment by swatching, or making small samples of varying stitches as a way to decide how the stitches will appear as a pattern of a knitwear. Once satisfied with the design plans, an artistic knitter will create a pattern and write down instructions that will enable craft knitters to create the knitwear designs.

Drawing patterns and getting instructions written with the help of an application, does not take away the artistic skills that was applied in creating the pattern

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