Yarn Theory: faqs, artists, events

Yarn Theory    Kate Fenker's Blue Dewdrop
The exhibit Runs April 25-May 17, 2009 
PS122 Gallery                                                         
150 First Avenue, NY, NY 10009        
(enter on 9th St. between First Ave. and Ave. A)

Gallery Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 12-6 pm 
212.228.4249 www.ps122gallery.org 

Participating artists:
·        Ted Ashton
·        Emily Barletta
·        Sarah-Marie Belcastro
·        Nancy Cohen, Rita Cohen and Anschel Schaffer-Cohen
·        Christine Domanic
·        Kate Fenker
·        Amanda Gale
·        Miyuki Kawamura
·        Martha Lewis
·        Margaret Oomen
·        Gail Rothschild
·        Daina Taimina
·        Daniel Yuhas

Curated By Martha Lewis

Events Organized By Karen Eubel

Press Release:

Yarn Theory highlights the vibrant and deep interrelationship between the sciences, mathematics, crocheting and knitting. From mathematicians looking for clear and visual ways to model their theorem to home-knitters and artists looking to create unique sculptural objects, the world of contemporary yarn work is rife with cross-pollination between the disciplines. The explosion in the popularity of knitting and crochet has yielded an interest in using the medium to go far beyond sweaters, socks, and wearables, moving into the worlds of geometry, biology, natural sciences, pushing the medium’s sculptural boundaries.

Highlighting the work of some of today’s most interesting practitioners, Yarn theory juxtaposes installations and art objects made with a scientific or mathematical basis as a starting point, and with mathematical models and items made explicitly to explain or clarify abstract concepts, which end up being compelling aesthetic forms unto themselves. Because of their incremental structure, the crafted shapes often mimic growth systems found in nature. Such correlations are being explored by today’s needle workers, many of whom are also scientists and mathematicians professionally.

This exhibit contradicts the popular notion- recently made famous by Larry Summers, when he was acting president of Harvard University *- that women are not as good at math and science as men are. Knitting and crocheting -traditionally seen as an appropriate occupation for women and girls- intrinsically requires much calculation to create the expansions and contractions necessary to model a garment from a piece of yarn.

Even in its most traditional or most intuitive, yarn work processes such as colored patterning, lace- making, sweaters, etc. all make ample use of ideas and problems which share common ground within the fields of math and science. Both knit and crochet offer a way to make flexible surfaces, increase and decrease evenly and cleanly, forms which can fold into themselves, become endless loops, or spiral out exponentially.

The internet has provided a unique forum for interacting that has upped the ante in the exploration of the possibilities inherent in transforming a strand of fiber into an object. The level of quality, dialog and experimentation being displayed on-line are exceptional. This exhibit seeks to draw on that richness and to bring some of this profound and exciting world into our own community. Included in Yarn Theory are artists, scientists and practicing mathematicians. The work exhibited here references the worlds of geology, geography, topological mathematics, fractals, geometry, animal behavior testing, probability, human and marine biology, and physics. Yarn Theory seeks to contradict the idea that math and science are boring, un-sensual, and not enjoyable. The exhibit focuses on the connection between the calculated and theoretical, and it’s visual, tangible and tactile incarnation: the knitted and crocheted sculptural object.”

Martha Lewis, Exhibition Curator

Boston Globe, January 17, 2005
“The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.”

PS122 Gallery is a 30 year old not-for-profit exhibition space which provides exhibition opportunities and support services for emerging and under-recognized artists. Please visit us online at http://www.ps122gallery.org.


These photos of the installation taken by Dominick Guida, archivist for the PS122 Gallery..







Check out the websites of the artists involved in PS122 Gallery’s Yarn Theory Exhibition!

Emily Barletta http://www.emily-b.net/

Sarah-Marie Belcastro http://www.toroidalsnark.net/

Kate Fenker http://katefenker.com

Martha Lewis http://www.marthalewis.com/

Margaret Oomen http://resurrectionfern.typepad.com/resurrection_fern/

Gail Rothschild http://www.gailrothschild.com/

Daina Taimina http://www.math.cornell.edu/~dtaimina/

Daniel Yuhas http://tattingmydoilies.blogspot.com/

Ted Ashton http://www.math.uga.edu/~ashted/

Nancy Cohen, Rita Cohen, and Anschel Schaffer- Cohen http://nancymcohen.com

Miyuki Kawamura


Hallway Project

Robyn Love http://robynlove.com/

Outdoor Installation

Guerilla Knitters

Performance Event in May

Lisa Daehlin http://www.delisa.us/



Eugenia (left) stopped by one day while we were working on the fence. She came back to see the show with her daughter, Tanya (right) who is a mathematician.

Eugenia (left) stopped by one day while we were working on the fence. She came back to see the show with her daughter, Tanya (right) who is a mathematician.

Eugenia (left) stopped by one day while we were working on the fence. She came back to see the show with her daughter, Tanya (right) who is a mathematician.




Saturday, May 16th, Lace Workshop with Lisa Daehlin was a big success.  Lots of people stopped by to see the show and the fence before it came down.   OPERAKNIT CABARET(with yarn antics by Flash Rosenberg and piano accompaniment by Louis Mendez), A BIG SUCCESS!

Lisa Daehlin’s performance in the PS122 mail theater was terrific!  She has a beautiful voice and chose songs related to knitting, spinning, embroidery and lace.  We even got to hear brand new music composed by Stefania de Kennessey.  Her accompanist, Louis Mendez, was wonderful, accomplished and witty, and Flash Rosenberg gave everyone a laugh or two (except when she showed us her grandmother’s embroidered shawl…we just ooooed.)  

Louis Mendez (piano), Lisa Daehlin (performer), Flash Rosenberg (performer)

Louis Mendez (piano), Lisa Daehlin (performer), Flash Rosenberg (performer)


Lisa Daehlin and friend; Flash Rosenberg

Lisa Daehlin and friend; Flash Rosenberg


Composer Stefania de Kenessey, composer of music for "Eve's Design", "Mother" and "Mrs. Moon" performed by Lisa Daehlin at OperaKnit Cabaret

Composer Stefania de Kenessey, composer of music for "Eve's Design", "Mother" and "Mrs. Moon" performed by Lisa Daehlin at OperaKnit Cabaret


Friends of PS122 Gallery at OperaKnit Cabaret

Friends of PS122 Gallery at OperaKnit Cabaret


Pianist Louis Menendez and Gretchen outside by the fence, after the performance

Pianist Louis Menendez and Gretchen outside by the fence, after the performance


Flash Rosenberg

Flash Rosenberg


Lisa Daehlin (performer) with Louis Mendez

Lisa Daehlin (performer) with Louis Mendez

 For more information about Lisa Daehlin see:
http://www.lisadaehlin.com/ SINGING
http://www.delisa.us/ KNITTING DESIGN

– many thanks to Performance Space 122, especially Derek Lloyd, for their and his generosity!



Daniel Yuhas (artist) and Liz Smith at Daniel's "Golden Spiral Workshop"

Daniel Yuhas (artist) and Liz Smith at Daniel's "Golden Spiral Workshop"

I stole these pictures from Daniel’s blog: http://tattingmydoilies.blogspot.com/


Daniel's very huggable spiral, at the opening

Daniel's very huggable spiral, at the opening

“Anatomy of a Stitch” workshop with Lisa Daehlin
Lisa with one of her former students who got hooked on lace knitting after taking Lisa's classes

Lisa with one of her former students who got hooked on lace knitting after taking Lisa's classes

Lace workshop participants

Lace workshop participants

Lisa is a wonderful singer and a great knitter and crocheter.

Lisa is a wonderful singer and a great knitter and crocheter.

Lisa, with needles in her hair and…


Several impromptu knitting circles developed. Here Alison, Rosmary (who worked on Robyn Love's "Water Tower Cozy", Deb (back to us ) and Janet Koplos (art writer)

Several impromptu knitting circles developed. Here Alison, Rosmary (who worked on Robyn Love's "Water Tower Cozy", Deb (back to us ) and Janet Koplos (art writer)


  1. this is an exciting approach to stiched arts and i see printed in wellset words what is my own longterm philosphie. i try to convince myself and others as well that stitching, knitting esp. is a means to understand the world, to make a laws of nature or math or physics visible.
    hope to get your newsletter,
    go on!

    • Hi Brigitte,

      Good to hear from you. Please check back on the blog and see what we add. We are getting our donation of yarn very soon and the guerilla knit/crochet will begin!


  2. Just love what you are doing.
    It is the time for more inteligent approach onto so called women skills

    • Thanks, Grace. Please follow the show on our blog.

      We conceived of this show as a “kernel” of an idea. The field of knit and crochet is so vast. We hope to (maybe) follow up eventually with other aspects of the renewed interest in hand crafts and needle work. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.


  3. Very happy to see this exhibit come to fruition…

    My blog is down for major repairs at the moment, but I’m hoping to have it up in a couple of weeks, and I’ll mention the exhibit there once I’m back up and running.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for looking at the blog and I hope you’ll follow the show as it unfolds. Any suggestions are welcome.

    • Hi Lee Ann,

      I hope I didn’t mess up and post a reply to you that was meant for another poster AND VICE VERSA! I’m looking forward to obtaining much more “blogatude” in the near future. This is all new to me. Keep in touch.


  4. Its a natural and graceful craft. Easy to learn and inexpensive. Lets hope it continues to mainstream and strengthen the connections of older generations to younger ones.

    I found a site that describes the history of knitting and the controversy of its Islamic origins—who knew?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I hope I replied to your post. I may have made a mistake and replied on the wrong poster. Sorry if that’s so. You found information about a controvery on the Islamic origins of knitting? or was it crochet? I’d be interested in any links. Interesting idea.


  5. Thanks for bringing our attention to this over on darteboard.com, I won’t be in town for the opening but would love to stop by and cover it for the blog while the show is running.

    • Thanks for posting. Yes, by all means, please let us know when you’d like to come by the gallery. We’re happy to find D’Arte Board. You should be aware of all the activities: beginning knit and crochet classes; a workshop on the Golden Spiral; and Lisa Daehlin’s performance on May 13th.

  6. Darn! I’d like to participate, but I will be in Sydney, Australia until May 7th. Will there still be cozies going up on the fence?

    • Hi Saharah,

      The show closes on May 17th. You decide if that works for you. You can send strips that are 3-1/2″ x 17-1/2″ to me at the gallery:

      PS122 Gallery
      150 First Avenue
      New York, NY 10009
      Attention: Karen Eubel

      but also, have a great time in Sydney and let me know about your trip when you get back.


  7. Can’t wait to see this! I’d like to stop by this Sat. when it opens… Is the Reception open to the public? Also, I’d love to contribute a piece – I will email!

    • Hi Eileen,

      Did I reply to you. I’m sorry if not. I thought I did. Did you make it on Saturday? If not, please come by we’d love to meet you. Karen

  8. Fascinating!
    I wish I could be there.
    I would love to see more pictures from the exhibition.

    • Dear Pirk,

      The show looks beautiful. We will post photographs. Everything is exquisite! Our fence is both funky and beautiful. It’s getting a lot of attention, and we hope our classes, workshops and the performance by Lisa Daehlin, are well attended. There is a vast area of investigation in the needlework/handcraft area. Many people/artists doing interesting things. Please check back.


  9. The show sounds really good. I wasn’t able to come by this weekend But I am looking forward to visiting. I learned about the show from Robyn, for whom I worked on the Water Tower Cozy. Last year I contributed to the Hyperbolic Crocheted Coral Reef, so I’m sorry I’ll be missing Daina Taimina.

    • Daina is going to be around again, I believe. She has to be in town on Friday (April 30th?). Give the gallery a call or email and ask about when she will be there. Robyn’s Knitted Mile is one of the best things we did. I took pictures and I’ll post them soon. It looks fabulous in our little “broom closet” that we use for installations. Do come by.


  10. My sincere apologizes for missing the opening night festivities of YARD THEORY. Unfortunately due to prior commitments and contractual obligations I was not at liberty to attend. Thank you all for organizing and executing such a vibrant and innovative experience. We love and appreciate the fine efforts that PS122 Gallery has shown in presenting this outstanding and unique collection of contemporary yarn works and our compliments go out to your curator, Martha Lewis and events organizer, Karen Eubel. Bravo!

  11. Oh yes,Rudolph Steiner was well ahead of his time, in so many ways.

  12. How wonderful to see handcrafts that preserved women’s sanity throughout generations, make conversation with other theories of how the world works.
    This is exciting – just what I been waiting for. Thanks for digging deeper and taking 2 steps into the dark. Put me on your mailing list.

    • Thank you for your comments. We seemed to have reached a varied audience and it’s generated a lot of good will towards the gallery. We had conceived of this exhibition as the kernel of an idea, that we might expand upon in the future. I can’t promise anything…we operate on a very tiny shoestring. But the enthusiasm and support of the people who engage in these crafts has been extraordinary and we want to see where we can go from here. Karen

  13. Will you be putting together any sort of exhibit catalog? As it would have been impossible for me to make it to the exhibit (even if I’d found out about it beforehand, which I didn’t), I’d dearly love to buy one…

    • Dear Mickey, in fact there is a downloadable catalog right on the blog. Look for the tab marked “Catalog“. The catalog was written my Martha Lewis, the curator, and covers the works chosen for the exhibition, plus some general information about other aspects of the exhibition. Information on the 9th Street Fence project and events are not covered specifically, but we’ll be happy to provide you with information if you wish. The catalog is a good way to see the works from the exhibition if you didn’t get a chance to visit the gallery.

      • Whoops, don’t I feel silly! Thanks so much, I look forward to perusing it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: