Saturday, July 28, 2007

a knitimal in the making... FAQ

For anyone who's ever wondered how i make Knitimals, but never asked... here's a little photo documentary, sorta, followed by some answers to questions i've been getting via email etc.

making a knitimal: i used to knit the entire piece, then sew and stuff all the pieces and make one doll at a time. that method has its merits... you don't forget what that one was supposed to look like or if this random little piece here was intended to be a tail or a horn. more often lately, i knit pieces for a particular doll, then wrap all its pieces (un-sewn) up in its body piece and tuck what will be its name tag in the lump as well. then i make the pieces for another doll and do the same. i keep all the lumps, as it were, in a big basket and when i'm feeling like giving my wrists a break, i'll break out the basket and have a sewing day or two. (or 3 or 4...). now if you've purchased a knitimal from me in the past few months, you've gotten with it a little card that explains (briefly) how they're different from other handmade dolls and how to care for them. somethings you might not know about Knitimals:
1.) they are completely hand knit. each bit of knit "fabric" starts from scratch from my needles.
2.) the "minimals" (the new small breed of knitimal) take about 2 hours to make (knitting, sewing, stuffing, tag sewing)
3.) each larger knitimal takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours JUST to knit! that doesn't even take into consideration the sewing of the seams (which can't be done on a machine either, so that's all hand done as well), stuffing and tag sewing.
4.) i don't use ANY kind of pattern. i'm really proud of that little fact. i love the knitimals because each one really is so different from its friends.
5.) these are truly little pieces of my art. my hands are the only ones on them (until we get to a show or a store of course... at that point people can't keep their hands OFF them!). i dont see the knitimals as being any different from my illustrations or murals, and i hope you don't either!
6.) i am very picky about my yarn... i even drive all the way up to maine to pick it out. ok, if we're being totally honest, i would drive all the way up to maine to go to a gas station... but still, the yarn is really important to me. to keep costs down, i try to buy yarn in bulk and i do make knitimals in a range of sizes and using different kinds of yarn, so you can pick out the one that best fits your lifestyle and budget. i aslo make some knitimals using very expensive hand dyed baby alpaca... so, you know, there's a good mix.
7.) knitimals are totally fun to make and i hope you love them too!
8.) the first true "knitimal" ever, was made in 2000 when a bad stomach bug kept me in bed for a week and i challenged myself to make a 3D version of one of my paintings. voila! beecat was born. but, its also gotta be said that other versions of my knit dolls did begin to manifest as early as 1997, and those that own THOSE dolls are in a very very very special club.
9.) yes, the felted dolls are hand felted. i tried using the washer before, but i didn't like the results... no control. So, i do it in the sink (a very tedious process... but those of you who know me know i love the tedious!). And some Knitimals are also embroidered after they are felted. felting adds about 2 hours to the creation process.
10.) no, i don't name them all! that is to say, YES they do all have their own name (never a repeat. never), but no, i'm not always the one who does it. AJ is actually a very good namer, which is to say, he speaks Knitimal very well and can communicate with the more shy beasts and tell me their name, sometimes a lot sooner than i can figure it out.
11.) yes, i do draw all the pictures on their tags myself.
12.) no, i really don't think i'd ever want to mass produce them. i get that question a lot. "but you'd make so much money", people say..."look at the ugly dolls™" they say... well, that might be true (MIGHT), but i'm not the mass production kind and neither are the Knitimals. I mean, in many ways, the knitimals are the antithesis of such an object. I think the ugly dolls are great for what they gave the toy market (an alternative to purple dinosaurs and super cute puppies), and mass production works there. for me, the knitimals have always been about comfort. i mean, the first one was BORN out a need to comfort; they're hand knit because it allows me to spend time with each one--- to completely create it, down to the very fiber, to not just sew this fabric together but to actually MAKE the fabric (and yes, when i move to maine and we can have alpaca i will spin my own wool as well). the knitimals aren't ugly, they aren't "monsters", they aren't beasts, they're friends. they are snuggly and warm and comforting like sweaters and baby blankets, and i think each one really does belong to one specific person the minute i sew the final seam closed... i've seen that connection made too many times to not believe it. SO, i will continue to make each one as unique as possible and always with my very own hands. by the same token... if anyone DOES wish to mass produce anything, i'd be more then happy to have my illustrations on lunch bags and wall paper and books and pants and cars everywhere*** i hope this has been informative! hey, if you think of any other questions, let me know and i'd be happy to answer them!***xoxo danamarie

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