24 September 2007

Astrid Furnival, knitting artist

Since I began this blog, I've been intending to post about an artist who's inspired me (and who, without knowing it, gave this blog its name).

I can't believe that with all the current interest in knitting, nobody seems to have discovered the work of Astrid Furnival.

Astrid is a knitting artist. She hand-dyes yarn with natural dyes from plants she collects herself, and knits them into unique sweaters and hangings.
The above image is a portrait of Samuel Palmer, the British visionary artist (click on his name to see the original portrait she was working from). Below, you can see it in context - as a sweater.

Get a load of the wrong side of the piece. Astrid cares not a bit for weaving in ends. (Note that this sweater is at least 15-20 years old, and has been actively worn for years with no ill-effects.)

I wish I had more shots of Astrid's amazing sweaters and hangings. She did one that was a whole set of indigo variations on the Navajo word for "blue." She did this wall hanging, based on the Chanson de Roland, which now hangs in a museum in New Mexico. (Sorry for the lousy photo - you can see it a little better if you click on it. Note the dimensions: 56 inches high, 108 inches across.)

But the work I know best and the one that inspired the name of this blog is a set of sheep-counting rhymes from five different regions of Great Britain. Each of the five panels is dyed with plants from the region in question.

(I'm not going to win any awards with these bad pictures - but at least they give some idea. Again, you can see them better if you click on them. Note the all-important Yan Tan Tethera, center (Borrowdale) panel.)

It seems to me that, with all of us knitting fanatics out there, Astrid (who now lives in France) should be poised for wide recognition (or at least a spread in Interweave Knits). An enterprising publisher could do an amazing book of photographs of her pieces that knitters would snap up.

I hear that she is not working much these days because of problems with her hands. All the more reason to celebrate her underappreciated oeuvre.


Shan said...

Wow, that's incredible. You're right - it's strange that her work hasn't been more widely publicized. I would think IK would be highly interested.

I love those sheep-counting rhymes. And what a clever name for your blog.

shirleyknits said...

Wow! Recognition of her work is long overdue. -Ann