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Knitting as Ancestral Connection: with Morph Knitw...

Knitting as Ancestral Connection: with Morph Knitwear

Morph Knit Wear Portland The House Of Twigs

Angela Thornton, of Morph Knitwear in her studio in Portland, OR

“…To knit is to create any number of items from one strand of fiber, a beautiful lesson in continuity and connection and in this workshop we will follow that strand back through the ages, feeling and discussing our intermingled histories through fiber, pattern, and tradition.”

About Morph Knitwear: 

No seasons. No industry. No rules.
Morph Knitwear is the creation of Portland, Oregon based designer Angela Thornton. Angela melds artistry and utilitarianism to create handmade garments that challenge the traditional perception of knitwear, while retaining classic virtues of durability and timeless elegance.
Each garment is crafted using the highest quality fibers- including linen, wool, cashmere, silk, and cotton. Many Morph Knitwear pieces are unisex, focusing on the shape and texture of the fabric and its unique qualities and imperfections, rather than the perceived gender of the wearer.
Morph Knitwear is an extremely intimate expression of self and emotion, and as such perpetually changes and evolves. The concepts of individuality and intimacy used in the act of knitting endure over each evolution and are brought into relationship with the wearer- a personal communing between craftsman and customer through the knitted fibers of a garment.
Morph Knitwear is a return to the production of clothing as artisan craftsmanship, a challenge to the fashion industry’s churning belly of factory produced throw-away goods. We hope you will join our revolution.
Q- What is Knitting as Ancestral Connection exactly? It sounds amazing to everyone I’ve talked with it about but I’m not sure they understand why this is so different than a traditional knitting class. 
morph knitwear portland oregon the house of twigs

Morph Knitwear, 2016 Collection II. Seafaring Wanderer, Photos by Jon Duenas

Knitting as Ancestral Connection is a workshop that I’ve crafted to both teach the practical skill of hand knitting, alongside a meditative, connective discussion of the ancestral roots of knitting. To knit is to create any number of items from one strand of fiber, a beautiful lesson in continuity and connection, and in this workshop we will follow that strand back through the ages, feeling and discussing out intermingled histories through fiber, pattern, and tradition. Part of the beauty of this workshop is that I get to share yarn from sheep raised by my mother and spun at a family mill in Albany Oregon – each student will be provided with yarn for the pattern we’ll learn in class – a tangible connection to my personal histories, as well as a tangible connection to the land and animals that provide wool for our clothing.
Students of all skill levels are welcome to attend – we will cover all the basics, including casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, basic pattern reading, knitting in the round, basic shaping, and binding off, but by no means is this class only constructed for the beginning knitter.
I feel particularly passionate about sharing traditional skills, building thoughtful holistic community, and creating tangible connections to animals and the earth now in our present social and political climate because of the looming threat of denial, destruction, and further isolation that so many of us are feeling. Now more than ever we must find ways to weave our lives together, connecting our present selves with the past, and connecting our present selves with each other, and for me, knitting is the most natural way to begin doing that.
morph knitwear portland oregon the house of twigs

Morph Knitwear, 2016 Collection II. Seafaring Wanderer, Photos by Jon Duenas

Q- What brought you to this concept and how did it unfold?
I think this idea has been developing slowly over the years that I’ve spent building Morph Knitwear as a brand. There are so many pieces of my work that I’ve made while meditating on the lives of my mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers and the skills and creative preferences that I inherited from them that it seemed natural for me to honor them by teaching a class to pass on those skills, while also creating a space to engage in discussion about the evolution of the craft as well as the women and men who’ve kept it alive generation after generation.

 

morph knitwear portland the house of twigs

morph knitwear ancestral knitting house of twigs portland oregon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q- Tell us more about your mother raising sheep?

I grew up in an incredibly creative and crafty family, and my mom has spun yarn, felted, and knitted for as long as I can remember. When I was a tiny kid we had angora rabbits that she’d brush every day, collecting their downy hair in paper bags, and when there was enough we’d use drop spindles and spin yarn out of it. She only recently began raising sheep – she’s currently got two Cormo Wethers, funny guys with wonderful fleece and a deep love for peanuts. I’m hoping her herd will expand (I’m pushing for a black lamb so I can source some natural, undyed black fleece!) because I would love to begin producing more garments from fiber raised by my family.

 

Q- Is there anything about your family’s history you would like to share?
Both my mother’s and my father’s families are relatively recent emigres to the US – my dad’s family from Croatia in the early 1900s and my mom’s from Germany in the late 1940’s. As such, I experience a certain amount of restless rootlessness, an answer to which I’ve found in knitting – it’s a skill, hobby, and necessity that is tied to so many members of my family, and is a practice that also connects me to my ancestral roots. I think that I am not alone in being an American who’s experienced feeling culturally uprooted (by no means does this only apply to those with western european heritage!) and I am seeking a way to create new, diverse, integrated traditions that simultaneously connects me to my ancestors, you to your ancestors, and us to each other.
morph knitwear portland oregon the house of twigs

We just heard about you being an instructor at Spirit Weavers 2017 gathering for Ancestral Knitting as well as classes you are offering in your studio in Portland. Can you tell us more about this specific, Ancestral Knitting workshop in your studio?

This workshop is divided into two four hour classes. Session one is Saturday March 11th and Sunday March 12th 2017, from 10am-2pm both days. Session two is Saturday April 22nd and Sunday April 23rd 2017, from 10am-2pm both days. (Both days of each session include a 45 minute lunch break!)

morph knitwear the house of twigs portland oregon

In this two session class we will cover casting on, the knit stitch, purl stitch, basic pattern reading, knitting in the round, basic shaping, and how to bind off at the end of a project. Each student will leave with the pattern for and beginnings of a project to be finished at home. All knitting needles and yarn will be provided as part of the registration fee – the yarn is specially provided by my mother and is spun from the sheep she raises on her micro-farm in Corvallis Oregon.

*Angela was recently a victim of theft in her studio and was luckily able to make some of her supplies and the costs of her finished work back, although a true setback  to any artist and violation of her space. 

One thing you may not know about Angela is that she has a weakness for cute babies and a large heart. A portion of every purchase you make with her goes to a donation towards and environmental, social and/or radical cause. Check out her current donation that your next purchase will go towards. Please help support her by sharing her information, pages, and buy her wonderful work.

 

You can find Morph Knitwear online at morphknitwear.com, on facebook,  instagram , pinterest, and tumblr.

Erika Fortner

Creator, Curator and Writer of THOT & Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, galley and boutique of handmade skincare products & metaphysical boutique in Eugene, OR. Erika is a fine artist, mother, lover of beer and a former roller derby player.


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