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Peony and Parakeet

About Art and Knitting

Yarnie - an illustration about yarn obsession by the artist Paivi Eerola.
“Yarnie” – A digital illustration about yarn obsession when you escape to an island of wool and all you feel and hear is yarn.

Knitting Through Childhood

I learned to knit before school when I was about five years old. Before that, my older sisters had taught me to crochet, but it wasn’t enough. “There will be much more stitches, and they get dropped easily,” they said. But I was determined. I sat in the kitchen with a ball of dark green light-weight yarn and thin needles that had duck heads in the other end. I wrapped the yarn around the needles and was sure that I would figure it out by myself. It must have been an endearing sight because my sisters gave up and taught me to knit.

After that, I was unstoppable. My mother taught me to make socks and mittens, and when I went to school, I learned more from there. Our local library had a couple of shelves of knitting books, and I borrowed them regularly. As a teenager, I bought a knitting machine and made a sweater in a couple of days.

A purple and green sweater inspired by abstract art.
I attended in a teenagers’ knitwear design competition in the 1980s and got a price with this sweater, inspired by abstract art!
The good thing in the 1980s fashion is that the knits were so big that we never grow out of them!

Late-Night Knitting

Like art, knitting has always been with me. But even if I have had times in my life when I haven’t created art, I have never stopped knitting. No matter what crisis I had, how busy at work I have been, there has always been time and energy for knitting. It’s still like breathing – in, out – knit, purl.

As a child, I had a phase when I dreamed about being a textile artist. But the older I have become, the more I have realized that the connection between knitting and art-making must be looser for me. In the late evenings, when the working day is over, I say good-bye to the artist in me. Then it’s time to stop producing and start consuming. I browse online yarn stores, their Instagram accounts, and Ravelry.com – the ultimate database for knitters – and plan my next projects. I watch knitting podcasts on Youtube and knit obsessively as long as I can stretch the night. I don’t think about art, and I don’t feel like an artist. By following or adapting a pattern that someone else has written makes sure that I don’t have to think but just knit.

But strangely, for each big painting, I need a lot of knitting. It’s my way of processing all the ordinary so that the extraordinary can come up.

Intuitive fair isle knitting and intuitive paintings.
One of my recent sweaters that has “intuitive fair isle” as I call the colorwork without charts.

Art and Knitting – Work and Hobby

When I started blogging over ten years ago, my blog was about knitting. At that time, I also sold handmade bags called folk bags and wool that I produced in co-operation with my friend and a few farmers. There might still be some of you who have followed me since then. Thank you for sticking around!

A photo from 2008 when I had an Etsy store that sold handmade drawstring pouches called folk bags.
Later, I wrote a pattern for them. You can purchase it here!

When I grew my artist’s identity, I wanted not to talk about knitting anymore. I needed a hobby, not another job, and I felt that knitting and fine art don’t go so well together in public. People often have a hard time understanding that art can be a real job.

A sketch and the final illustration "Yarnie" by Paivi Eerola.
“Yarnie” is based on a black and white drawing that I made last year.

But last year, I decided that it’s time to approach art with greater confidence than before. It has made me more open, and maybe it has added a bit more self-acceptance too. So yes, I am both an artist and a knitter. Art is my work, and knitting is my hobby, but I would not be able to work without the hobby.

Does this make sense to you? Let me know what you think!

18 thoughts on “About Art and Knitting

  1. That makes so much sense to me, I can perfectly relate to what you say about your knitting. It is like sitting on the sofa with a good old friend, having time to think or not think at all and being at comfort. No art in the evening because it is challenging to make art, but relaxing to knit 🙂

    1. Thanks, Irene! We definitely experience this similarly! Knitting is a good old friend, but art a more challenging and adventurous partner!

  2. I am sitting here elbow deep in yarn! I just had a surgery and rest during recovery is crucial. I must recline and the only way I could imagine to pass the time was crochet. It was my first attempt before knitting. Later when I tried to get into knitting, my brain absolutely could not let go of wrapping the needle as in crochet. I have a mental block against the purl stitch. It’s crazy! I began knitting socks and it was frustrating that I could not get my muscles to cooperate and purl. Countless hours I fought it. But in the end, crochet has won the battle, but perhaps not the war. So grateful for Ravelry!
    As always, I have the utmost appreciation for you art style and the way your brain works!
    Happy almost spring!

  3. I spent years doing hand-spinning, crochet, knitting, and embroidery.
    I had to stop because of problems with my hands.
    More recently I went back to art in collage and a bit more abstract and loose painting that I can handle with my less functional hands.
    All the same in my book – and all fun and creative!
    Merge them when you can!
    (I did a blackwork embroidery self-portrait as an embroiderer.)

  4. I love your combination of art making and knitting. I am currently taking your painting class based on Klee and Kandinski and it has opened the floodgates of creativity for me. I was surprised how much I like the first painting I did in the workshop. I too love knitting, being meditative for me. I first knit as an 8 year old and have always knit. I love fair isle and knitting Estonian lace. Thank you for your journey and sharing it with your fans.

    1. Thank you, Ann! It’s wonderful to hear that you have enjoyed Floral Freedom! Fair isle is my favorite and I like lace knitting too.

  5. For me it’s sewing “scrap quilts” . Sometimes it leads to new color combinations I never would have thought of on my own. A relaxed state of mind is achieved as I grab random strips of fabric to sew together. Also I’m using a different set of muscles , and a different room (so a new viewpoint) in my life. There has always been a suggestion for artists to “do something different” to renew their art. Usually they suggest taking a walk or going to a gallery, but I think sewing or knitting gives a lot of us the quiet, relaxing, thinking time to allow us to enter the studio with a new perspective !

    1. Thanks for sharing, Sandra! I like to quilt too. I sometimes say that there’s “taiteilija” and “työteilijä” in me, “taiteilija” meaning “artist” and työteilijä, a funny word, not quite Finnish but something like “workist” who likes to quilt and knit.

  6. I feel that combining different aspects of art–for it is all art–in one form or another–I don’t knit–but crochet–over the years I have tried my hand at many different forms of art–they feed me–without it all–I am just empty–so onward and upward to all artistic expression–they make us whole
    Thank you for your inspiration–magical

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