We are thrilled to welcome, Ýrúrarí (pronounced as “ear-oo-rari”), textile designer and artist from Iceland on the Pop Sick blog. As many of you, we are big fans of her knitting and textile work, so, it was lovely to chat about her ‘walking art’ and recent upcycling projects. Keep reading if you do not know the sleik-zine, her experimental knitting manual which is pure awesomeness!
Pop Sick Vintage: Knitting, for many, is something that grannies and old nannies do. You started knitting at an early age, I saw a photo of you as a young blond girl in dungarees with braided pigtails – and already knitting! When did you start knitting and why? Should we knit more?
Ýrúrarí: I learned to knit when I was 9 years old at school, we learn it here in textile classes in Iceland. I connected with it right away! Somehow I managed to read Donald duck comics and knit at the same time, I knitted so many beanies and some sweaters as well. I think the act of knitting was kind of soothing for me, but I also love to multitask, so I found the perfect way, reading and knitting! Now I can’t read and knit at the same time, so I’ve gotten more into podcasts and Netflix & knit…
PSV: You called your pieces ’walking art’ and we know that you are happiest when they are not shut away in closets, but people wear them. So, I was wondering what is it that YOU love to wear? Do you make what you wear?
Ý: Sometimes I wear stuff that I make, but always when I make something for myself someone buys it from me, I guess I can’t really afford my creations! But of course I do have some pieces that I sometimes wear. I’m hoping I’ll find time soon to make another tongue sweater that I can wear, my partner has been asking for a tongue sweater for a while and I guess I can’t really sell something she owns, then I can just share it with her and use it myself some days. The last two I’ve made for myself have been snatched away from me (but sold..).
My everyday clothes are normal, I do like patterns though and colour but I can feel the bright colours disappearing as I get older. I usually buy my clothes used from the Red cross, or if I’m feeling fancy and can afford it I go to a nice store here in Reykjavík called ORG, they sell some nice ethical and sustainable fashion brands and the clothes are usually very simple so it’s nice to wear them with my wacky creations.
PSV: Many of your projects features human body parts, eyes, tits, genitalia and the sleik, the kissing mouths and sticking out tongues. Your use of human body parts feels playful, feminist and liberating. Why do you like this theme so much or where is it coming from?
Ý: Good question! I simply don’t really know….I just really connect with it, and we all do, we all have those things with us every day, they are us and we use them to do so many things! It also connects with the clothes, we use them to cover and complement our bodies, keeping them warm or trying to give them some air. Then they move with the bodies and our movements can make them change, there is just something fun and playful about it!
PSV: We are huge fans of your upcycle project as upcycle and reworked vintage is close to our heart. We also love transforming second-hand clothes, refreshing them with simple decorations and tweaks. You created a knitting pattern manual, the sleik-zine, to encourage people to craft their clothes. Do you have any other plans to get people engaged in knitting and revamping? Do you think upcycling and slow fashion be a real alternative to fast fashion clothing?
Ý: I gave out Sleik zine earlier last year and I’m so happy with where that project went, I’ve gotten so many fun pictures of sleik knit projects and old clothes that now have a new fun look. When I gave out the zine I was staying in Textile Arts Center in New York in their Work In Progress residency program and I had to teach a class. That made me start my upcycle sweater classes that have evolved a lot since then. I’ve taught it to kids at art classes here in Reykjavík and then at some knitting festivals in Iceland, Seattle and Denmark. It’s so fun to see all the inspiration people get when they work with some basic textile ideas just to express themselves with their old clothes, I think it can put their whole closets into a new perspective where old clothes turn into empty canvas. I think teaching all kinds of upcycling and recycling classes might also just be an alternative to slow fashion, bringing the knowledge to everyone making them use their own hands gives the clothes a new view. At least those classes are bringing my ideas to some new levels, and I just started an MA program in Art educations at the art school of Iceland.
PSV: You mentioned in an interview that you are counting the yarn you have used for knitting and that you will throw a big party when you reach the moon. Are you still counting it, are you close to reach the moon?:)
Ý: It’s been so hard to count since I mostly started hand knitting, I was counting when I was more into machine knitting and I could calculate the weight with the length…After that interview I studied at Glasgow School of Art and I think the knitting I did in my final project there probably took more yarn than I’ve used in my whole life before that, so maybe I’m almost there, at least I’m always getting closer!