Textile knitting is a stimulating and accelerated method of hand crafting using 3-200 strands of fibre simultaneously on outsize tools. Mixing so many strands together gives the opportunity to blend many colours and types of fibre in a creative and painterly way. The resulting fabric is deeply comfortable, hard wearing and totally luxurious.
Rachel John currently pulls between 3-200 mixed yarn strands simultaneously and hand knits the resulting yarn into large deeply dense carpets among many other items. This is a completely unique 21st century innovation in yarn manipulation and textiles hand crafting bringing new influences and inspiration to all textiles design and associated tool making.
This all started in 2000 when Rachel began what was to become a 5 year research & development process in finding a new creative voice. Research was in many places, in libraries, book shops, on-line and in the 2nd hand shops. Rachel looked at and tried out at all manner of fibre manipulation such as knitting and crochet patterns and techniques, rope craft, basket weaving, rag rugging, wire work, tasselling and more.
Most of the possible working techniques and materials did not bring out the creative passions, did not absorb her attention and interest. They did not allow her to go large as is her tendency!
In 2002 Rachel started a project to knit a 3 strand Moss Stitch jacket knitted on 12mms knitting needles. This took months off and on. Finally knitting was finished and most seams sewn up. Great. Put it on and – er, hmmm, ooh – don’t like the fit. Most knitters have these stories. Rachel was disappointed as she had really enjoyed the process of knitting again after about 15 years no knitting.
Chin in hand, cuppa in the other, thinking, looking at the piece. 3 strands – what about 53 strands, what happens then. That’s the exact eureka moment. Rachel got out some yarn – ended up 25 strands on this first item, Rachel mocked up some tools and just started knitting. Within a week she had knitted a double bed blanket/throw/rug – thick and luxurious – and a complete wonderment to knit. Following this first rug, Rachel then went on to explore what could be done with multiple strands – between 3-200. Many of the original pieces from the first 3 years following Eureka Moment are first in the world examples of Extreme Knitting by Rachel. The extreme quality to this type of knitting being the size of the pieces, the amount of yarn used, huge knitting pins – among other things. The remaining First in the World examples (museum pieces) can be found in the Rachel John Originals collection.
Having discovered a new yarn technique it must then surely be necessary to hunt for the limits of the discovery. For Rachel – a personal curiosity is to see how many strands you can knit with and how you can use the resulting cloth.
Rachel will be at Burghley, Thame and Sandringham Craft, Food & Gift Shows