Friday, December 16, 2011

Biology, Good Yak Energy and Frustrating Socks This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

50 bumblebees recreated by Hannah Haworth using laceweight
Malabrigo yarn. Original bumblebee pattern by the artist
and available for purchase on Ravelry. Photo by Hannah Haworth,
used with kind permission.
Well everyone, I've got three hand-crafted holiday presents in the bag, three more to go. While I'll have photos (and another pattern to share) next week, I thought we'd all like a bit of a break from holidaze madness. I've got just the thing: how about the latest installment in the Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire? This time I asked Hannah Haworth, scupltor, knitter extraordinaire, artist, and all-around creative pixie to give the questionnaire a go. I think her answers will make you smile. At minimum, I have found a kindred sock spirit.

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Artist Hannah Haworth 

Hannah Haworth. Photo used with kind permission
of the artist.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to create knit art pieces?

I was born in Birnam, Scotland but I lived most of my childhood (3-12) in south east Asia, predominantly with a tribal community in the Philippines. I think this is probably where I got into making things, I would do a lot of beading with the local women there.  I think having that super close connection with the land also influenced my work deeply. When I returned to Scotland I was a teenager and didn’t craft, I was still awkwardly settling into my own skin, and that seemed to take up all my time! It wasn’t until I was at Art College in Edinburgh that I took up knitting.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become an artist?

There wasn’t that big aha moment, it was kind of gradual. I wanted to do biology for years… but ended up doing art instead as creativity was something that came naturally. I think the whole biology thing was because of my big love and interest in animals, but I’ve found more ‘me’ ways of pursuing that.

White Noise, hanging from the ceiling at Vogue
Knitting Live, New York, January 2011.
Please describe your personal artistic philosophy?

I'm not sure how to answer this! What I believe in, in terms of my art? I try my best to find my inspiration at the source, for instance, when I created White Noise, I wanted the whole piece to be channeled by beluga whales themselves and arctic tradition, and my emotional response to that, rather than any cultural commentaries about whales or something I had seen made by another artist. I need it to be as personal as can be. Other than that, I endeavor to use all natural materials and keep it local too when possible.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory?

I really got a kick out of learning traditional Scottish colour work. I remember learning that and having to incorporate it into every project for a while after. I still think it's amazing, especially doing my own charts and making little motifs, its like drawing but with yarn, in a very organized fashion, and the rich history behind it makes it supremely fascinating to me. I’m trying hard to love cables, I love how they look and the amazing things you can do with them. But they can be tedious for me. I’m currently making my dad some ‘effing socks’ to match his kilt for Christmas, they are very intricate Celtic knot-work in lace weight and they were supposed to be finished for him to wear to my wedding, well, that was a wee while ago now…

If you could have dinner with any three artists, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

I would have to eat with Frida Kahlo, she was my favorite artist when I was little! And she had many animals too, as well as an embarrassingly large collection of dresses – I think we would get on.

Joseph Beuys I’ve always admired. His work is so raw and so wild, and he seems so too, and he would definitely be invited if he were to bring his coyote. I have a feeling I would crush on him pretty hard!

My third is Bjork. She is so beyond cool and has a great sense of aesthetic and humor too. I think she would be interesting in combination with the other two. I could just sit there and listen to them talk.

Continental or European?

Euro, baby!!

It’s your last project to create. What is it, and what fiber do you use?

I would make a life size yak maybe, and use yak fiber and maybe a yak skull underneath. And I would keep him around, yaks have such an incredible energy to them, very calming and very strange. I've been working with a herd for the last year and I am sad to be leaving them, this way I would always have the essence of one with me.

More knit animals from the artist Hannah Haworth,
on display at Vogue Knitting Live, New York, this
past January.
What trait do you most admire in artists/designers?

The good ones have a great way of looking at things, they can pick out the strangest thing, and it will become beautiful - just looking at it through their eyes, in their hands.

What trait do you most detest in artists/designers?

It’s a little too easy to get a big ego, and that tends to encourage rudeness – which I find intolerable.

You are recommending an artistic gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. What would you recommend?

Well that would depend on the person in question, but I feel like it's hard to go wrong with a drop spindle and some camel fiber.


Thanks so much, Hannah! Her current work can be seen at Union Gallery, Edinburgh as part of the "Winter Wonderland" exhibition through January 24, 2012. You can also check out her daily artistic adventures at her website.

Now do buzz on over to Andrea's blog to see how everyone else is holding up just one week before the big day.


  1. Great interview! I've seen her projects in various blogs so it's neat to see an interview with her. Great job, Denise!

  2. wow. thanks so much for sharing this interview. I had not known of Hannah's work.

  3. I have to agree with her thoughts on yaks. I've only had the opportunity to meet some once. They were huge, impressive and scary, but somehow peaceful, calming and friendly.

  4. What a great interview and thanks for the introduction to Hannah's work. I love the gift suggestion!

  5. I've never heard of Hannah Haworth before. Her experience and her works are amazing! How interesting to hear she considers her life with the tribal community influenced her art. Thank you for posting the interview!

  6. Very interesting, thank you for this informative introduction, I really enjoyed it!

  7. Denise--Thanks for the wonderful post!

  8. Thank you for introducing me to someone new. She sounds lovely and your questions were great. Thank you so much for your nice comments on my sweater. Have a great weekend.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this interview....thanks for sharing.