Brooklyn Handknit

When we lived on Broadway, between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, the neighborhood was neglected and unsafe. The building we occupied was originally a paint factory, our floor a vault where the solvents had been stored. As harsh as this environment may have seemed, it provided the feeling that so much was possible. Many of the important parts of our life were born in that space. One was Brooklyn Handknit. Going through the archive, I am reminded how each Brooklyn Handknit design has its own story. Here, we have selected a few for reissue.

Janis Stemmermann, Door
Wood, inlaid beeswax & pigment
78 x 30 x 1-1/2 in.

At the time I started Brooklyn Handknit, I was ensconced in art-making and motherhood. The work I was making was influenced by a trip to the south of Spain and the Moorish palace, the Alhambra.

Impressed by how every surface of this exotic jewel was patterned, I was busy transferring this idea to objects in my studio. Collaborating with Tsering, our babysitter, I found it was fun to use a knitted hat as one of these forms.

Friends and family began passing me sketches, making suggestions, sharing personal favorites. On a walk on the beach while visiting Russell’s parents, we ran into their neighbors, Tom and Gretel. Catching up on my knitting business and their adventures traveling through Europe in a Volkswagen Microbus, Gretel described her favorite hat. As she spoke, I made notes in my head. At home, I made a sample: a hat with scarf panels attached over the ears. I used a thick, hand-spun yarn to create a dimensional, over-sized stitch. Bergdorf’s included it in their catalog that next season.

We bring along with us parts of where we are from. Our daughters have grown up in a very different environment from those of Russell and me. We grew up in small New England towns, they in a big city, urban industrial area. When I made this hat and sweater, it was like a haiku on my growing up in New Hampshire in the 70’s. Brown-heather knit wool, hikes in red laced up boots, bears in the woods.

Available for sale by clicking the images below

292 Manhattan Avenue (on Devoe St. next to church)

Brooklyn NY 11211

Graham Avenue L stop

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