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Jen – a subversive and experimental knitter

It’s the challenge I love, working with unexpected materials such as wire, bark or seed pods and seeing what I can make with them

I learnt to knit as a child, taught by my mother.  She made everything from the most amazing jumpers as well as underpants and hammocks for my brother’s action men.

The first piece I ever knitted was a bright orange tie that I gave to my Dad at Christmas when I was about six.  I was incredibly disappointed when he didn’t immediately wear it – but he explained that he was saving it to wear to work as it was so special.  It wasn’t until I was well into my thirties that I realised that he didn’t wear ties to work.

From there I graduated to garments.  I remember making a navy cardigan for my Brownie badge that languished in a drawer for months with me forbidden to wear it as I was too frightened to ring the tester to show her my work and get the badge awarded.  I never did get the badge, or to wear the cardigan.  I found it again, still in the drawer many years later, but now much too small.

At secondary school we had this dreadful tradition of knitting Dorcas blankets.  We each had to knit several 4” squares and then tediously join them together to form a blanket to give to the local community.  My form never once won the prize for best blanket.  They were truly awful things and I wonder if any of the elderly who received one was at all pleased.

I never knit tension squares despite usually using the wrong wool for the pattern, I’m too impatient to get started.  Nor do I undo my mistakes if I can get away with it. When I was young I always used to make my mum undo my knitting and knit me back up to where I was as I got so upset if I dropped a stitch.  Now I just try to hide it, or pretend it just reinforces the sense that it’s handmade. 

Once I started work, my knitting became more sporadic.  I did a few baby cardigans for friends but little more until I rediscovered my knitting passion when I became an artist in my forties and then discovered the joys of machine knitting, guerrilla knitting and experimental knitting.  I now use knit to start a conversation with the world; an opportunity to make an angry or excited commentary on what I see and nudge things in a better direction. 

Find more about Jen’s work on FB, Instagram or her website.

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Published by jencableart

Jen Cable is a mixed media textile artist who loves to draw attention to the outmoded, fabulous, awful and bizarre aspects of culture and everyday society

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