A 49-year-old graphic designer who recently learned to knit is making sweaters and bags inspired by legendary rockers like David Bowie, Debbie Harry, and The Ramones. Working under the name Amimono Horinouchi (amimono is Japanese for “knitting”), he picked up the craft in 2012 and has already produced an impressive collection of knits that are selling like wooly hotcakes on Etsy for about $600 each. “I consider myself both a graphic designer and a sweater designer. The only difference is whether to put something in print or in knit. The drafting process is essentially the same for both," Horinouchi tells The Creators Project.
Horinouchi’s interest in knitting began when he saw how one artist worked with a traditional craft material. “One day, I discovered the works of Charles Krafft. His somewhat eccentric style includes ceramic guns and dictators, as well as decorative plates that show horrific events,” he says. The contrast between contemporary imagery and traditional materials inspired Horinouchi to think of knitting as a way to illustrate his designs, especially his images with a rock and roll edge. “I find works that include expressions of violence to be fascinating," Horinouchi says. "I was eventually struck with the idea to incorporate hard rock idols into knitwear.”
Horinouchi spent six months learning to knit by hand and three months in a machine knitting course. “I currently knit using a domestic knitting machine,” he says. A bit of a misnomer, a knitting machine is actually entirely hand operated and requires the user to manually shape the fabric and change yarn colors, much like a traditional weaving loom. In addition to making sure stitches are evenly sized, a knitting machine keeps track of an image pattern via a punchcard or electronic reader.
“Although I have become quite fast at knitting the simple parts, patterns still take a considerable amount of time,” Horinouchi explains. He relies on a technique called “intarsia” to incorporate all the colors required by his patterns, which involves using a separate piece of yarn each time colors in a pattern alternate, making the whole process incredibly complicated.
Horinouchi is starting to earn a following for his knitwear, but his rock and roll sweaters are hardly the only way he is making and getting his work out into the world. “Right now, I am still fairly close to obscurity. However, I am always looking for new ways to express myself. I would love to present an exhibition abroad in the near future," he says.Amimono Horinouchi poses in his Biz Markie sweater