Using two John Deere excavators donated by a local lead, a baby blanket made from incredibly toxic
construction equipment dealer, artist David Cole porcelain fiber, and a Kevlar sweater. He’s in the
and his assistants knit a huge American flag in July process of creating an installation of 25 giant teddy
2005 with two 20-foot knitting needles made out bears sewn from black roofing rubber, to be installed
of telephone poles with sculpted points. Cole spent like a flotilla of buoys in a harbor. Notice a pattern?
days up in a cherry picker, looping the stitches and Dangerous materials mix with sweet subject mat-directing the movement of the needles. ter in a dance likely to give you whiplash.
After casting off, The Knitting Machine was All of his work toys with the obsessive nature of
ceremoniously taken down, folded, and displayed craft, but his most successful pieces have many layers
in a glass case at contemporary art museum Mass of meaning. While they don’t yield their answers up
MoCa in Western Massachusetts. “I didn’t see it as a easily, they aren’t deliberately obscure either.
performance,” Cole says about his time spent knit- “I want my work to be conceptually accessible,” he
ting up in the crane. “Knitting for me is a physical explains. “But if someone wants to engage critically
meditation on the creative process ... and the final and think about international policy and domination of
object is an artifact of [that] process.” space, great.” And as for making a subversive gender
Cole began knitting in college to help him focus statement? “Totally secondary. It’s there, but that’s not
during lectures. He also took a sculpture class that what it’s about,” says Cole flatly. “It’s visual ballet.”
gave him new insight into his knitting. Since then, —Arwen O’Reilly
he’s become known for his knit artworks, which
turn traditional ideas of knitting upside down. >>Big Knitting: theknittingmachine.com
Other recent pieces include teddy bears knit from