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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

post-festival apartment squalor

so, taking a cue from my online buddy catherine, over at, whose own blog recently highlighted the reality of her otherwise seemingly clean and "with it" life, i've decided to share with you, my reading audience, just exactly what the greenstarhome looks like AFTER (and in the weeks leading up to) a show, which in case you've done any quick math you'll realize is like, oh, all the time.
let the horrow show begin.
now, i'll say that it's probably not evident in the photos (god, i hope its not!), but we have dog-hair-tumbleweeds almost bigger than the dog itself.

what we see here is what the festival booth looks like AFTER it comes down and comes back into the apartment, where it will live in the hallway, obstructing our walkway and causing a half dozen stubbed toes, for a month or so, until the next show when it will be carted one piece at a time down the stairs and back into the car. we also see piles of "things to make" and "things to make things out of". and of course, poor shiloh, regarding these piles and asking so sweetly... when oh when will i get space to stretch out again. look at her pleading little eyes.

i hope this teaches us all that dirt is cool. clutter is better. and organization is time spent NOT knitting or sewing or painting and that time is just more fun. with that in mind, i'll ask you not to say "i told you so" when i complain about my allergies or stubbed toes. xo danamarie.

Monday, July 23, 2007


yay artscape! yay repetative beats and drunken masses! yes ladies and gents, that day has come (and gone) and thank you so much to all the lovely folks i met this weekend... and all the old friendswho were sure to stop by. check it out, by the way, greenstarstudio whipped out a new booth layout. those of you who got to experience this new "multi-sensory trip into the inner most levels of my mind" (also known as: canvas and acrylic knitimal panels, tap lights and colorful display banners) seemed to enjoy the changes, so thanks. as i write this now, i am acutely aware of the lack of sleep and ground in dirt that won't be showered away, that is artscape. 3 days of sun and dust, and before it, at least a month of obsessive production and brainstorming (not to mention packing, unpacking, packing and unpacking the bins and rubbermaids that carry my wares and necessities to shows. i like things "just so"). every day of artscape just got better and better. half of my knit friends went home with new friends and well... there's not a frame or box or journal left. i couldn't produce other work fast enough! so thank you--- thank you for wanting to own things i make. thank you for buying handmade. thank you to every single person who came in and told me my work was cute or sweet or gentle or positive or unique or wonderful or weird (in a good way)... thank you for reminding me that this little venture of mine really IS a good idea (i mean, i think it is, but i can only own so much of my own work, ya dig?). i should be getting the website updated again in a couple weeks tops, SO, if you saw anyone or anything at artscape you wanted but didnt go home with, let me know and i'll get it right out to you. xoxo danamarie
(next stop: harbor east fine arts & music festival!, august 25th).