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1,000 strands, 1 knitter
March 15, 2013 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Ever wanted to try knitting with 1,000 strands of yarn? Neither did I, but it's a lot of fun to watch someone else do it. Extreme knitter Rachel John, a textile artist and the inventor and creator of Extreme Textiles, is a proponent of using multi-strand knitting to make décor items such as rugs and throws. And when John talks about multi-strand, she really means a multitude. She says, "Up to 300 [strands] is possible, but we think up to 100 should be about right". Knitting with 1,000 strands turns a relaxing past time you can do in a rocking chair into a contact sport, but I have to admit the process is fascinating to watch and the result is a painterly blending of colours. Pro tip: do not try this project with a cat around.
posted by orange swan (47 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't knit.
I would never try any project with a cat around. (Have you tried to read the paper with a cat?).

I am sending this to all my knitting chums as awesome.
posted by Mezentian at 8:52 AM on March 15, 2013


This almost makes me want to apologize to my wife for all the times I've complained about her knitting taking up space.

Almost.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:53 AM on March 15, 2013


Heh, I was going to say her website link didn't work and was just being domain squatted but...nope, that is her actual website.

(this is really cool though)
posted by capricorn at 8:55 AM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


TRIBBLES
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I knew you were tribbles....
posted by Mezentian at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2013


That is badass.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2013


This is very cool, the finished textile looks great.
posted by carter at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2013


When your knitting needle could double as "thing cavemen would have used to kill a mammoth with," you know you're legit.
posted by phunniemee at 8:58 AM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, that is amazing.

This is like the inverse of knitting very tiny blankets on very tiny needles for stop motion animation models.
posted by bq at 8:58 AM on March 15, 2013


you know you're legit hardcore.

Improved that for you.
posted by Mezentian at 8:59 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just completed a knit project that used an unusual multi-strand fiber, and almost went mad continually checking to make sure I was working with all of it in the proper manner without dropping a strand. This video is pretty much the nightmare I had before actually getting the thing finished.

Also, Ms. John must have amazing arm strength. And I wonder just how lumpy that "mattress" would be in use, though it is lovely to behold.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:01 AM on March 15, 2013


This is very impressive and beautiful.

However, I would like to move that we, as a culture, reserve the adjective "extreme" for activities which subject one to forces, speeds, heights, or environments that put one at high risk for injury or death.
posted by oneironaut at 9:16 AM on March 15, 2013


That is mind blowing. I really like how the video includes so much of the set up, it really adds to the feeling of "what the fuck do they think they are they doing?!?" And seeing those giant needles made me laugh.

The final shot seems to have left a lot of yarn hanging in the background, would it get harder as she continued, or would there be some other reason to not use it up?

On a side note, one of the video titles said they were taking it to the Endth degree. That's a pretty awesome malapropism. I have never seen it before so I Googled it. It did not appear until the second page, (most were a misspelling of Endeth) so I guess it is pretty rare, but you can see how someone could make that mistake since Nth is such an odd construction.
posted by bitslayer at 9:24 AM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


oneironaut, I almost died watching it.

ALTERNATIVE SRS ARGUMENT: using "extreme" to denote "well beyond the normal practice of the activity" is pretty established. Furthermore, the actual risk of skydiving (as an example) isn't very high. Or at least it isn't if you're doing it correctly. Driving a taxicab, on the other hand, is probably one of the most extreme things you can do, by your definition.

I know you almost certainly don't actually care but sometimes the gauntlet must be taken up.

I also loved "endth degree," and who knows, it may even be an intentional pun?

Anyway, loved this, thanks for posting it.
posted by kavasa at 9:28 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not a fan of the finished... chair? I think it was a chair. I would have stopped at about 3:05 and left it as an art installation.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:30 AM on March 15, 2013


Extreme Textiles

I think Mountain Dew just found their newest sponsee!
posted by item at 9:31 AM on March 15, 2013


THE YARN IS LEGION. WE ARE AT THE ENDTH TIMES.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:31 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of the finished... chair? I think it was a chair. I would have stopped at about 3:05 and left it as an art installation.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:30 AM on March 15 [+] [!]


I think it's still an art installation.
posted by bq at 9:50 AM on March 15, 2013


This is so not what I expected. As a non-knitting type I was expecting the final item to be some kind of near painting quality work. Led that way even more by the caption about mixing yarn like paint. Then the huge knitting needles came out and I was left only thinking, "what the fuck?"

While I certainly appreciate the effort in making such a thing, I can not see the practical reason for it, neither in purpose or aesthetics. Would anyone more knowledgable in the craft please enlighten me?
posted by JakeEXTREME at 9:55 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heh, I was going to say her website link was just being domain squatted ...
posted by capricorn


Maybe she could use a class in Adobe Dreamweaver.
posted by surplus at 9:58 AM on March 15, 2013


before I opened the link, I thought she was going to knit with the 1,000 strands of yarn one at a time, like the most intricate Fair Isle pattern ever.

This is just as crazy.
posted by Lucinda at 10:01 AM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was like watching paint dry, with less of a point. I'll stick to my double strands.
posted by shoesietart at 10:05 AM on March 15, 2013


Her boyfriend must be huge. I hope she has some extreme kleenexes handy.
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would anyone more knowledgable in the craft please enlighten me?

IANAFA (fibers artist), but I went to a school that was very big on it and worked with fibers artists. "Fibers" has fairly recently shot up as an area of artistic study, and i can understand why. It's a slow craft with fundamental ties to some of the most basic aspects of being human. I mean, think of what a useful technology cloth. Look around. Chances are good you're literally surrounded by cloth fo one kind or another.

Anyway, what I'm saying is: Larger scale serious study of fibers as an art and not "mere" craft is pretty young, and so it's still working through the modernist questions about what fibers "can be." How big can we knit? How small? Can we knit centipedes into a fashionable toque? How about toques into a fashionable centipede? Can we work bodily fluids into this somehow?

Hold on, I think I have a masters' thesis.
posted by cmoj at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


While I certainly appreciate the effort in making such a thing, I can not see the practical reason for it, neither in purpose or aesthetics.

The result is a mattress-like piece of work that could be used to as the cushion on a low window seat, or, if fastened to a board and legs, used as a bench or hassock. That you don't find it aesthetically pleasing is a matter of personal preference. I can see it working in a home with a modern style of décor.

Rachel John doesn't ordinarily knit with 1,000 strands, though — this was probably a one-time publicity stunt knit/art project. She normally knits with about 300 strands and that process results in rugs.
posted by orange swan at 10:20 AM on March 15, 2013


kavasa, I hope you have recovered. If not, perhaps the artist will knit you a casket while skydiving.
posted by oneironaut at 10:57 AM on March 15, 2013


I also, will stick to my two strand knitting. The Lady Eleanor shawl makes me want to throw up, I can't imagine trying to corral all that yarn.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:12 AM on March 15, 2013


That is amazing.

And I think I've discovered the afternoon craft activity in my version of hell.
posted by spindrifter at 11:14 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cmoj, Orange Swan, that does clarify it a bit more for me. I will stand by the preference of not finding it visually appealing but I can also see the importance of the experimental nature involved.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 11:34 AM on March 15, 2013


Yawn. Wake me up when she does this with circular needles.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:44 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry. Meant to type "That is totally badass".
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:45 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: we knit centipedes into a fashionable toque
posted by zinon at 11:53 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope she knit a gauge swatch.
posted by baniak at 12:49 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The final shot seems to have left a lot of yarn hanging in the background, would it get harder as she continued, or would there be some other reason to not use it up?

All those balls and skeins of yarn are of way different lengths, and probably the shortest of them will start running out of yardage pretty fast, leaving her with a lot fewer than the thousand strands she started with.
posted by clavicle at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2013


The Lady Eleanor shawl makes me want to throw up, I can't imagine trying to corral all that yarn.

It's entrelac, which is done with only one strand of yarn. You bind off stitches and then pick them up later, so you're knitting in a different direction at that point.
posted by Lucinda at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2013


Entrelac is pretty easy, much easier than it looks. I was able to make an entrelac scarf and I am a beginner.
posted by bq at 1:58 PM on March 15, 2013


Judging by that video she should have gone up a needle size, if not two. That tension was way too tight.
posted by kariebookish at 2:07 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


yarn wrestling!
posted by freshwater at 4:31 PM on March 15, 2013


That IS her gauge swatch. Onward to the giant sweater!

It reminds me a little of the lady who used straight-up wool roving to knit a blanket on pvc-pipe needles. I think I read about it first on Orange Swan's knitting blog.
posted by fancyoats at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's torn it!
Where do I get this wool roving?
posted by de at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2013


Nth degree, people. Nth degree!
posted by ooga_booga at 6:13 PM on March 15, 2013


I just started knitting. I'm loving it! Relaxing and productive.

That being said, I barely had the patience to watch that video, let alone actually participate in a project like that. For those with short attention spans, the last 2 minutes-ish is the actual stitching.
posted by murfed13 at 7:14 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay.. that's not a thousand strands. I took a rough count of the spools and it's only about 250 at most. And technically, it's only one strand of yarn, it's just a really thick single strand.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:44 PM on March 15, 2013


I'm assuming most of those yarns are multi-ply, which is probably how she got to 1000 strands.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:13 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


De, on the off chance that you're serious about the roving, I recommend R.H. Lindsay. Their wool top is really nice, especially for the (very low!) prices at which they sell it. I think that they're mostly set up to deal with larger orders, but I've ordered just a few pounds at a time from them before. You say how much you want, and they get you a bump that's close to that, and then bill you the total. It's been a couple years, because I'm not actually the kind of person who can burn through five pounds of fiber in a year or two, but I was really impressed at the quality.

Also, while I'm not wild about the finished project as she's done it, I'm very impressed, and probably would be madly in love with something in a solid color, or tone-on-tone--I'd love to have a few cosy knitted mats to hang out on while reading or whatever. I suspect it's just a personal taste thing--I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want, say, chrome-plated anything in their house, or giant picture windows, but many people apparently do.
posted by MeghanC at 10:06 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excuse me while I crochet a baby blanket out of ramen noodles.
posted by rikschell at 10:13 AM on March 16, 2013


I will admit to being more of a problem-solver type than an artistic type, but I watched that video all the way through and was really disappointed. Most of it was reeeaallllyy boring setup - the premise of all the balls and how they got them up to the knitting area was interesting (and the Tribble vibrations were cute), but it took way too long to show it. When they finally got to the actual knitting, I was excited to see it. But it was all stop-motion vignettes. They never showed a single stitch being knit all the way from beginning to end. I really wanted to see that. And the child's back that kept appearing in the camera - with so much other stuff cut out, surely they could have cut that too.

So for me, it's idea = 1 but video = 0.
posted by CathyG at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2013


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