Tag Archives: knitted engine

ATH + Jayfor

It’s been a while since my last post… so much going on, it has left little time for reflection and communication. Anyway, to make amends, here is the story of the making of a new stitch-hacking piece, told in pictures…

ATH + Jayfor is on display at an exhibition titled WOW: wonder of wool and the art of knit and stitch, at Rheged in Penrith until 15 April. Also on display is my Knitted Engine, and work by a stellar lineup of contributors, including Deirdre Nelson, Freddie Robins, Rachael Matthews, Annie Shaw, Celia Pym and many others. The exhibition is curated by Trevor Pitt of Pod Projects.

Here’s the blurb about the piece that I wrote for the exhibition:

Title: ATH + Jayfor
Materials: Found wool/nylon jumper, nylon yarn
 
Stitch-hacking involves the laddering and re-forming of stitches in existing knitted fabric. This technique has been developed by Amy and allows her to create structural patterns within found knitted garments. For this piece, she has taken the text from the label of an old jumper and transposed it to the body of the garment, ’embossing’ it into the structure of the plain knitting. Amy has also recorded herself within the work, through the inclusion of swiss-darned text. 
 
This work plays with questions of authorship and ownership. The original manufacturer made the stitches, and their information has been made dominant on the garment. However, Amy has physically made the piece her own through the attention and painstaking practical work of her intervention. Through pieces such as this, Amy wants to celebrate the craft of knitting in all its forms – industrial and domestic – and to encourage others to tinker with mass-produced objects, which we often see as ‘closed’.

The Knitted Engine, part 5

Here are some more images of the Knitted Engine in situ at BMW Plant Hams Hall. Thanks to BMW for organising the photos. This first one shows my favourite part, the crankshaft, with the con-rods and pistons shooting up towards the cylinders of the engine. If you look closely you can see the little twisted stitch detail I used to make a ridge down to centre of each crank web.

On this one look out for the crocheted BMW badge and lettering hanging on the edge of the cylinder block, about halfway up the picture.

And on this one check out the spark plugs and camshafts at the top of the picture! One of the BMW associates pointed out that the timing (positioning of the cams in relation to each other) was off on my camshafts, but then was impressed to see I could fix the problem just by swivelling the cams round. Apparently you can’t do that on metal ones!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.

The Knitted Engine, part 4

It’s finished and installed! Hurrah!

I spent 8 hours in the BMW Hams Hall foyer installing the engine on Friday, which gave me plenty of opportunity to chat to passing employees about the project. I was particularly touched by several people who said ‘it’s a good job you’ve got those tags on, otherwise we’d take that [e.g. crankshaft] and put it in one of our engines!’

We’re moving the whole display to Lichfield Cathedral tomorrow where it’ll be on show to the public as part of Lichfield Festival until Sunday 17th July (free entry). These are just some quick snaps I took once it was up – I’ll add some nicer images soon.

Here’s the interpretation that goes with the display:

While I’d like to lie in a darkened room for a week to recover from this mad but rewarding project, it’s onward and upward – we’re heading to Latitude with our knitting tent on Wednesday. I’ll report back about our festival shenanigans when we’re home again!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.

The Knitted Engine, part 3

I’ve realised over the past few weeks that it’s difficult to blog about all the exciting projects you’re doing when you’re so busy doing them, there’s barely time to eat, let alone type.

Anyhow, work on the Knitted Engine is coming on a treat. Since my last post, I did two days at BMW Plant Hams Hall. I was able to quiz BMW associates about the intricacies of engine design (turns out I’d got most of the bits right on my last diagram, apart from a random belt assembly on the right hand side that I’d totally invented, and misplacing the clutch and flywheel). I also measured all the engine parts that I’d been trying to assess the size of via photos (much easier).

The main activity at BMW was running workshops with thirty year 6 pupils from Coleshill Primary School. They learned to knit, crochet, french knit and finger knit and I was so impressed with them! Four BMW apprentices joined in too. I don’t think they were really expecting knitting to be part of their training but they took to it with good grace.

I then went into school for two more days of workshops, using the children’s development samples to inform the design of the final components. It required loads of french knitting (on bobbins ranging from the traditional 4 pins in a wooden bobbin to a customised 25cm plantpot), hand knitting and crocheting round metal rings. They worked really hard and they were really positive about the experience of learning to knit, which was lovely to hear.

I’ve now got all the bits the kids made and I’m madly forming them into the final engine components! I made the exhaust yesterday, and now I’m onto the pistons which connect to the con-rods I’ve already made. Still lots of knitting and stitching to be done, but it’ll all be sorted by next Friday when I install at BMW for a few days before moving it to Lichfield Cathedral on Monday 11th July. Exciting!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.

The Knitted Engine, part 2

Here’s my latest diagram of the Knitted Engine. Hopefully I’ve got most of the bits in the right place, but I’ll find out next week when I talk to an engineer at the BMW plant!

I’m making some of the parts, before some intensive workshops with Coleshill Primary School to learn knitting skills and produce lots of the components. I’m partway through my crankshaft, and contemplating how to seamlessly knit the oil pan over the weekend…

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.

BMW Residency: the Knitted Engine

I’m just getting started on a very exciting project – a residency at BMW Plant Hams Hall in Coleshill as part of Lichfield Festival.

Local schoolchildren and staff from BMW Hams Hall  will be joining me to create ‘The Knitted Engine’, a collaborative piece exploring the hidden similarities between engineering and knitting. Traditional knitting and crochet techniques will be used to construct a replica BMW engine – presented as a three-dimensional exploded diagram – in a clash of making cultures.

This is my early (and slightly vague) ‘artist’s impression’ of the finished piece (which, I have to confess was based on elements of a lawnmower engine, rather than a fancy BMW one!).

I’ll be making most of the parts in workshops with the schoolchildren, but I have made a start on my crankshaft, and will add pictures of the work in progress.

The finished piece will first be on display for staff at the BMW plant, and then on show to the public in the South Choir Aisle of Lichfield Cathedral from 11-17 July, as part of the festival. More info here. I’m also running a ‘learn to crochet’ workshop at the festival, details here.

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.