Using techniques like fair isle knitting and technology like the Jacquard loom, creating amazingly intricate images with weaving nothing new, but a new project may be the first time those images have been animated.
Greg Climer, a fashion designer and faculty member at Parsons School of Design, has found a way to turn film into fabric and back again. He’s in the process of making a short film and intends to use a long knitted scarf at the film reel. A 19-second test shot, his proof of concept, shows that this wacky idea is possible.
Inspired by our growing ability to use old tools in new ways, Climer came up with the idea to knit a film five years ago.
“At home, I can sit down on Photoshop or edit film, these things I’d never be able to do in the past, and the programs are capable of speaking to knitting machines,” he says. “We’re starting to link all these technologies we have together. They’re having conversations.”
Finding a way to make this dream into a reality was a challenge. Climer doesn’t knit, and even if he did, making these frames by hand would be an insane, almost impossible undertaking. “I spent a couple years trying to find a factory that would take me seriously enough to have a conversation,” he says. Finally, a knitting factory in New Jersey agreed to help.
The factory taught Climer how to use their technology to distill frames of his film into knit. He reduced the size of the frame to the size of the knitting bed, so there were as many pixels as there were stitches. The looms can use up to four colors of yarn, so Climer compressed the colors of his film down to four. The resulting test scarf is about as long as a New York City block, and took about a year and a half to make. His work in progress debuted at the Brooklyn’s Bushwick Open Studios art festival last weekend.
Now, Climer will move on to writing the short film that he plans to knit. “[The film will be] a thank you letter to the kids who used to beat me up in art class when I was in middle school,” Climer says. As brutal as those times were, the designer says those experiences shaped his life into what it is today.
“Events triggered events and I ended up going down this path and it lead me to this amazing place,” he says. He expects the final film to be two to four minutes long, and he’ll add sound over it once it’s completed.
The designer says he has no idea how long the final scarf will be. “I have not even started to do the math on that, because I’m kind of afraid,” he says. He knows one thing: whatever the final project looks like, it will be comfy. “The film is really comfortable,” he says. “When no one was at the show, we took a nap in it.”