Ýr is exciting and multi-coloured. She's bold and graphic. Needling up a storm and knitting out her dreams, Yr takes the time to chat with me about her fresh eyes on a traditional artistic discipline. We talk raising hens in Icleand, vomiting wool and aliens in space.
Hi Ýr! You've been refining your art for several years now. When did you first take to knitting, and what drew you to this particular medium?
In Iceland we learn to knit at school when we are nine years old. I became really fascinated with knitting; I don’t know how many beanies and stuffed animals I made at that age, but I’m sure it was a lot! I hadn’t really knitted since school. In 2012 I decided to make some clothes for a job and I took up my knitting needles again. I realised that I like to make my own fabrics and that there are just so many possibilities when using yarn as a material. I’ve made a lot of things since, and last autumn I started to learn textile design at the Reykjavík School of visual arts.
Working from a '90s knitting machine must be something of a novelty. You've used contemporary-antique pieces before, including a 1950s model Knitmaster. How does this approach shape or influence your designs?
They stopped making knitting machines in late ‘90s or somewhere around that time. So I actually have one of the newest models if you think about it! But yes, there is some kind of novelty about it. The first machine I learned how to use was the 1950s Knitmaster machine. I had never seen a knitting machine before that and I’m not sure if I fell in love with these machines because of how much easier they make my job or just how beautiful they look. I really like everything about space and aliens, and I felt a little bit like this machine came from outer space to earth to help me with my knit work.
It really changed everything when I got my own knitting machine. I think it somehow opened my mind, and instead of taking many hours to make the sweater itself, I now spend many hours decorating it instead.
Creating something as 'everyday' as a sweater with such a fresh and vibrant angle is kind of ground breaking, in a fun and colourful sort of way. If we were to see all the daily items and objects that surround us as potential works of art, how do you think the world would change?
So many things would change a lot, and probably in a good way. People would think a lot more before spending money on something, if they were to think they were buying art instead of some everyday item. But then maybe art might lose some of its meaning and everything that was really unique becomes really mainstream and part of everyday life. This could also mean that more people would appreciate art more. I’m not sure, but this is a really good question, I need to think about it.
But I can tell you that next summer I’m going to work on a project with my friend that is a really talented artist and painter. We are going to draw together art and sweaters in a fun project, I’m really excited about it!
Knits are a unique platform to share an idea, a thought, a quirk, a message. What do you hope to share?
Just some pieces and places of my mind. I’m probably better at knitting than communicating in words so it’s just another way to share my thoughts and those of others.
Living in Iceland must have left an impression on you and how you express yourself. How would you describe your hometown of Kópavogur?
I lived in a suburb in Kópavogur. Our house was originally a cottage and we had a really big garden and hens living there. We had a lot of space for ourselves and a really adventurous environment to grow up in. Then the town of Kópavogur grew a lot and our area became a part of a really normal suburb, a bit of a snobby suburb really. But regardless, Kópavogur is probably just a really normal small town with its ups and downs like any other.
If you were to spend your weekend doing whatever you liked, what would you get up to?
I’ve wanted to make myself a sweater for some time, but I can’t decide what kind of sweater. I haven’t had time to make myself anything for a while now, but in middle of March I’m taking part in a weekend called Design March, in Reykjavík. I’m a part of a group running an event called the genital pop-up market. So I’ve just spent my weekend working on some genital knitting!
Finally, where is the best spot for our readers to see more of your sensational artwork?
I recently discovered Instagram as a medium, so if people are interested in seeing my projects and work in progress, they can look up ‘yrurari’ on Instagram. I also have a website www.yrurari.com (but it is really slow!) and a really active tumblr blog.