Yoshimi Nakai




Knitting & Stitching Show

The 2001 Knitting & Stitching Show:

exhibited work





'The Moment of Ice'



Description of my work:


Most of my work takes the form of clothes. Well-designed clothes should, I believe, be comfortable and easy to wear, with a light weight and pleasant texture against the skin.
The more 'expressive' my pieces became, the harder it was to match these requirements. Pursuing a visual and technical theme can result in clothes that are less suitable to wear. It has been a struggle to choose between these two directions, and I have now compromised by setting myself some minimum pre-requisites of clothing beyond which I am free to experiment.
 Inspiration: Natural phenomena during the winter season have an enduring fascination for me. Frost, sleet, snow, ice, icicles, crystal ice diamond-dust, glaciers, snowdrifts, hoar frost, and crystal are my main sources of inspiration. The appearance and impression of these things can change constantly according to the weather, season, light or time of the day. It can make a difference whether they viewed from a distance or close to. The most fantastic aspect of all is to see a view of snow and ice through a microscope, as if one is in a completely new and strange world.
Theme: I decided to impose upon myself a challenge: 'How to crystallise many different impressions and complex shades of delicate detail into one work'. From the moment that I accepted this as my main aim, my relationship with knitting became serious. I realized that in order to do this I urgently needed to improve not only my visual and technical skills, but also to remain open to fresh impressions and find ways of expressing them. I repeatedly forced myself to focus on the subjects, and kept on observing them. I don't, unfortunately, find snowy weather that much fun anymore as I have become so engrossed in my themes that I am constantly looking out for images. When I do manage, however, to approach the subject with fresh eyes I feel deeply satisfied..
The Making Process: I make a variety of samples based on the things I have seen that have most impressed me. I observe these samples from various distances, and directions, and under different lighting conditions, and I watch them reflected in mirrors. I spend a fair amount of time in this way, scrutinising them for new possibilities. 

Once I have formed a picture of what I want to do, the next stage, making, is mostly plain sailing. After knitting for many hours I feel physically very tired, but still mentally alert. As long as I am moving my fingers my mind stays empty, and I like these peaceful moments. 
Techniques: I use a special crochet technique to make cords when I want to use several threads at once. I found that this very functional method produces unexpectedly beautiful surfaces showing neat rows of stitches, and lends itself to developing three-dimensional structures - something I was keen to explore. I decided to take this method as far as I could, and have used it in various combinations - such as coiling, twisting, shrinking, and sewing - and made shapes and motifs which I later joined together. 
Materials: I use a combination of nylon, synthetic, stainless steel, or silk threads to try and capture a 'mineral' quality. I often contrast the different properties of natural fibres alongside those of manmade materials, and this exaggerates the impression of a mineral quality. 

I try to exploit the inherent qualities of each of the materials I use. For example, I use nylon threads for their transparency. I prefer the pure, cool and slightly unreal white of synthetic yarns more than the whites of natural fibres, which seem to contain a hint of yellow. I use stainless-steel threads because their dull metallic quality creates a sharp sense of tension. I spent a long time hunting on foot for this stainless-steel thread, which I eventually discovered at a factory. The threads are micro-fine, and this helps to prevent the work from feeling like something obviously made of steel. During the process of knitting the stainless-steel thread twists naturally and helps maintain an even tension with the other yarns, resulting in a finely detailed surface. The silk yarns add contrasts of colour and texture.

The five pieces of work I have made for our Fushigoiroito exhibitions were each painstakingly developed over many months, and provided a pathway along which my skills and creativity could develop. All these experiences proved very useful and rewarding, and at least I can feel satisfied that each piece showed some sort of progress over the last. 

The focus of my first piece was simply a matter of surface design, using many colours to construct geometric patterns. At this point I considered colour to be the main subject of my work, but following my second piece I became aware of the importance of taking a theme and developing it in relation to my materials and methods of knitting. I have been following this path ever since.
Message: Before I joined 'Fushiginoiroito' I had been taking all my ideas from knitting books. Even so I managed to convince myself that my ideas were original, although I now see I was just making a kind of copy. 'Fushiginoiroito' has been a great learning experience for me, showing me how important and ultimately satisfying it can be to struggle with the challenge of expressing my imagination in my work. I feel privileged to be able to show whatever progress I may have made at this year's 'Knitting & Stitching Show'.