Kirk designed this sweater for his father, Reverend Dr. Zander Dunn, a third-generation Presbyterian minister with a love of the colour orange.
Afghans are a great way to explore geometric patterns. This pattern, known as ‘Cityscape,’ is a variation of the old quilting design “Tumbling Blocks” retooled for knitting. Kirk used his favourite greens and pinks, but any colours can be used. The hues are simply divided into groups of dark, medium, and light, and each group is used for one of the three faces of the blocks.
Kirk was approached by A Needle Pulling Thread to design a simple pillow with the colours of that month’s issue: green, pink, black and red. It appeared in the 2009 issue of the magazine.
FOLK ART CRABS
Kirk found these crab shells off the coast of a friend’s wonderful country home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. He dried out the shells, shellacked them, and painted them in traditional Nova Scotian folk art colours. He shaped the legs with modeling wire and knitted over them.
BLUE DIAMOND ROSE
Kirk designed this sweater for his daughter, but she was a picky dresser and didn’t want to wear it until she had almost outgrown it… oh well!
NOT FOR DINNER
For this puffer fish, Kirk used his grade school arts and crafts recall to papier maché a balloon for the body, and then knitted around the form. He used barbecue skewers for the puffer fish’s spikes, and plumber’s putty for the painted eyes.
North Pacific Gyre Jellyfish
While Kirk tends to prefer organic materials, sometimes the thesis of a piece cuts against that grain. North Pacific Gyre Jellyfish focuses on the effect of photodegraded plastic particulates in oceanic ecosystems. Where organic debris will biodegrade, plastic merely disintegrates into ever-smaller pieces while remaining a toxin-containing polymer. These plastic pieces are eaten by jellyfish, which in turn are eaten by larger fish.
To reflect the growing presence of synthetic materials in the aquatic environment, he cut a plastic sheet into one long continuous strip, combined it with yarn, and used it to knit the body of the jellyfish. The tendrils are old ribbons, synthetic yarns, and discarded wires and metallic cables. The resulting Frankenstein sea creature is a hyperbolic look into the future of sea-life on this planet.
Painted Turtle, Extinct
Kirk found the shell for this artwork in pieces at the bottom of the lake at his wife’s family’s cottage in Northern Ontario. He dried out the pieces, glued them together again, and then knitted the turtle body underneath it.
Kirk borrowed Escher’s salamander design, which uses shading techniques to make the salamander look as if it’s coming out of the page. Then he knit it three dimensionally to make it come out of the shadow box’s surface.
LIONFISH (INVASIVE SPECIES)
The venomous lionfish is an invasive species, so Kirk thought it would be appropriate to design it overtaking the confines of the eight-inch shadowbox. As with the puffer fish piece, he applied papier maché over a form for the body, and then knitted around the body. He built the fin rays from coat hangers, and then knit something very much like a long-fingered glove with which to cover them.
Crazy commedia pillow
This simple geometric pattern started out as red and gold diamonds. But as the piece went on, Kirk changed the hues a bit… and then a lot. By the end of the swatch, the basic red and gold theme was long gone and the harlequin pattern often associated with Commedia Dell’ Arte had indeed gone crazy.
ONE THOUSAND CRANES
Kirk designed this “One Thousand Cranes” sweater for his mother after she survived breast cancer. He was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, the little girl who developed leukemia after the atomic bomb was dropped near her home in Hiroshima in August, 1945. After she was admitted to hospital, Sadako’s wish was to fold 1000 origami cranes so that, as the Japanese legend goes, she would be granted a wish. She died from her illness not long thereafter. Kirk’s “One Thousand Cranes” sweater won a design award from Knitnet Magazine.
stars and bars
In keeping with the contra theme, Stars and Bars was presented to a good friend and very talented director and dramaturge in return for her outstanding work in bringing one of Kirk's plays for young audiences to the stage. Kirk took inspiration from MC Escher's drawings of geometric tile patterns of Alhambra, in Granada, Spain.
FLEURS DE LIS
In May of 1998, Kirk apprenticed at the Kaffe Fassett studio in London, England. During this time he was generously hosted by a good friend of the family who was an accomplished linguist and busy at the time picking up French as her fifth language. Fleurs de Lis was Kirk’s way of saying thanks for the incredible hospitality he enjoyed chez John and Klari Dormandy.
Topsy Turvy Pillow
This pillow design was inspired by Topsy Farms, a wonderful yarn and lamb producer on Amherst Island. Made with their all-natural, 100% Canadian wool, milled at MacAusland’s Woolen Mills on Prince Edward Island, Topsy Farms owners Sally Bowen and Ian Murray have long supported my knitting work, and it gives me great pleasure to support theirs. This pillow kit will soon be available through Topsy Farm’s website here. To pre-order a kit, contact my studio or Sally.