Meet Ingrid Wagner and her gigantic knitting needles

Today is probably the last post in my series of posts on the artists that I met at the I Knit Fandango show in London this May. Today’s artist is called Ingrid Wagner and she is a textiles artist and teacher as well as a painter and writer. So a very talented and versatile artist. Ingrid’s focus is on extreme knitting and crochet and she has her own line of knitting needles and crochet hooks including tunisian crochet hooks. For the extreme knitting/crochet she does not work with yarn but with leftover weaving cloth. Let me explain. Imagine a textile factory producing all types of woven fabric. This fabric is then cut and made into something and thus there are always going to be cuts and scraps and leftover fabric and this is precisely what Ingrid uses in her work. She also works with roving which is basically wool ready for spinning. So she prefers working with 1 strand of chunky material versus a number of strands of different yarns. Ingrid Wagner big knits at www.knittinginfrance.com Here you can see a portion of her booth. In the back you see her gorgeous rugs and blankets. Hanging in the front is a white throw in tunisian crochet made from roving (the material is shown next to the throw). You also see her balls of roving (in the front) and her balls of woven fabric. These are mostly wool but she also has a selection of woven cotton which she uses for example to make bath mats and these are really nice. Ingrid Wagner This is Ingrid’s assistant for the weekend and in the front of the picture you see a selection of her circular needles. She sells single pointed needles, circular needles, crochet hooks and tunisian crochet hooks Ingrid Wagner big knits Do you see the sturdy plastic “cable” on these circulars? ingrid wagner needles Her single pointed needles are colourful and the longest/biggest needles measure 1.20 m!! Impressive don’t you think? Ingrid wagner big knits  A big crochet ingrid wagner tunisian crochet The tunisian crochet also comes with a sturdy “cable” like the circulars and has a wooden “button” on the other end to keep stitches from falling off. Ingrid Wagner big knits And this is the lady herself holding her big needles (1.20 m). Ingrid was really fun to meet and full of enthusiasm. She took the time to explain how she sources her “yarn”, showing me her different kinds of needles and hooks and just explaining what she is all about. A wonderful and creative character and I think she engaged a lot of visitors who may have stopped just out of pure surprise but went away feeling inspired and happy after a few minutes of exchange with Ingrid. Ingrid has her own website where you can see pictures of her work, purchase from her shop or sign up for a workshop and you can visit her website by clicking here Ingrid also has her own Youtube channel where you can see her knit/crochet and learn to do so yourself. You can also see her in an interview with BBC on the occasion of her being in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for knitting with the longest needles – 4 m each! Not for the faint of heart:) You should definitely check that out by clicking here Ingrid has a fun take on knitting and crochet and her textiles are really beautiful for the home – I like her rugs, throws and cushions. I have tried my hand and extreme knitting myself when I met Rachel John at a craft show in Paris a few years ago and I bought my first set of extreme knitting needles and made blanket for my sister. I also purchased a kit for a rug but haven’t gotten around to actually doing it but I intend to one of these days. I even stocked some big single pointed knitting needles for the shop but they are not currently listed in my Etsy shop but should you be interested, you can always send me a message and I’ll get back to you with available sizes and prices. Knitting with big needles is quite different from knitting with “small” needles. I knit the blanket on size 26mm and I had to do so in a sofa so the ends of the needles could rest on either side of me to avoid having all that weight on my arms and shoulders. Also the movements are not the same. I did find this to be a fun addition to my skills and I love the look of chunky home accessories which always look so modern and comfy. So if you want to try your hand at extreme knitting, don’t be afraid, if you know how to knit or crochet you can do so with larger needles as well. Before I say good bye, here’s a picture of me knitting my first piece of extreme knitting blanket www.knittinginfrance.com That’s all for now. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed meeting Ingrid and learning about her big knits. Until next time, take care and enjoy your crafting:)

ps- Hi guys, I just got an email from Ingrid and she asked me to make it clearer that she does BIG KNITTING whereas other designers such as Rachel John whom I mention in the post, do what is called extreme knitting. So two things not to be confused. Also I misunderstood how the woven fabric she uses is made so I thought I’d just share with you the explanations that Ingrid just sent me and my apologies to Ingrid and all of you for not getting this right the first time around:)

Ingrid:

Our selvedges are not produced as you have described but are the selvedges (right hand edge) of woven fabric which is cut away after weaving has been finished. They are there for technical reasons during the weaving to hold the right hand edge straight and, when weaving is completed, they, too, have completed their job and are considered a waste product by the weaving mill.  Because the mill will have woven miles and miles of the fabric, the cut selvedges are also in one long piece. Therefore, there are no “cuts & scraps”. The long piece is one of the reasons why the selvedges are so good to knit with. The others are: a) they would go to landfill if we weren’t using them b) 100% wool   c) colour & pattern already woven in.  The selvedges won’t fray because the fabric has been fulled (commercial word for felting) before being sent out worldwide to be made into goods of one kind or another. The mill which has done the weaving will not be the manufacturers of the goods. They are simply weaving to order.  I fell over the selvedges one day when I was in a mill sourcing other textile yarns, asked the question “what’s this” and thereby, as they say, hangs the tale.

 Rachel was already doing Extreme Knitting at the time and I could see that there might be a problem in that 1) lots of strands of yarn together could cause problems to the maker 2) buying the real thing i.e. wool, would be expensive and customers might very well resort to using acrylic in their knitting, not appreciating the difference.  I didn’t want to contribute to either situation and decided to look for something different.

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