Incredible Knitted Moths Could Go in a Natural History Museum

Max Alexander turns Shetland wool into scientifically accurate depictions of various moth species.

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Jul 2 2017, 11:50am

A collection of Alexander's recent moth sculptures. Images courtesy of the artist.

Although the majority of moth species are not wool eaters, the insects are generally seen as enemies of knitted fabrics. But as Max Alexander's ongoing sculpture series demonstrates, moths and woolen knits can be quite amiable. By turning the distinctive colors and markings of various moth species into knitting patterns, Alexander is able to create amazingly accurate sculptures of moths from Shetland wool yarn. "It's pretty funny to knit moths from a material that they're known to eat though. Although none of the species that I've knitted are wool eaters," Alexander tells Creators.

When a friend initially suggested that Alexander try knitting moths, she wasn't particularly interested, but Alexander says her attitude changed when she realized the vast array of colors and markings that could be turned into intricate knitting patterns. "I started researching moths and discovered how many different and amazing varieties there are. It quickly became addictive!" she says.

Knitted sculpture of an eyed hawk-moth.

Alexander has already completed 35 knitted moths, and with at least five more sculptures in the works, she's not showing any signs of slowing down. "There's so many more that I want to make. Even after three years of moth knitting I'm still coming across new species that blow me away, the variety in their colors, shapes, and patterns is incredible. One of the most spectacular moths that I've knitted is the Urania Sloanus which went extinct in the early 1900s," Alexander says.

Alexander's first knitted moth sculpture.

Paying careful attention to detail, Alexander strives to make her knitted moths readily identifiable. "Once I choose a moth, I study as many different pictures and or specimens as I can find. Then I sketch out a pattern for the wings on graph paper and start knitting. I often have to adjust it as I go to keep the shapes as accurate as possible," she explains. Once a sculpture is finished, Alexander mounts and frames the work just like a scientific specimen. "I like to think they'd look at home in a natural history museum," she adds.

Urania Sloanus
Argent and sable moth
Jersey tiger moth
Magpie moth
Lily moth
Madagascan sunset moth
Madagascan sunset moth in progress
Knitted moths on display

See more of Max Alexander's work on her website and Instagram.

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