It might be fashion week in New York City, but the most adorable knitwear collection in the world may have just been unveiled in a Reykjavík basement. Icelandic fiber artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir spins a whimsical tale of amorous sweaters in a series of knits she calls Sweater Story, which opened recently at EKKISENS in Reykjavík. As Ýr tells The Creators Project, “Sweater Story is a simple story about two sweaters meeting in a pile of clothes one night at a bar downtown.”
Although there are only two sweaters in the narrative, Ýr created several different pairs of sweaters to illustrate the changes that take place between the sweaters at different points in their relationship. “We get to see the sweaters reactions to meeting each other and their intense emotions, one gets confused and laughs way too much, while the other travels inwards looking for answers. After laughing too much, the sweater starts to dismantle, meanwhile the other one begins brainstorming. In the state of dismantlement it tries to get a grip on itself, at the same time the other sweater, having found the answer with the help of sweater science, shreds itself into its core threads. Following the unspoken agreement, the sweater picks up its pieces and the other rips itself into trillions of sweater molecules. Challenging fate, the sweaters of Sweater Story find the perfect way to live happily ever after, combining into a whole new sweater with the advantage of having long, pink sleeve-tongues to make out for eternity."
Ýr employs various techniques to create her remarkable garments. Sometimes the artist starts with old sweaters—"Then I make most of the decorations by hand, with knitting and embroidery,” explains Ýr. Other times, she makes an entire sweater from scratch using a hand-operated knitting machine. Once she’s knitted all the pieces of the sweater, she stitches them together, adding hand-knit and embroidered details to create the motif.
Along with the sweaters that illustrate Sweater Story, Ýr created a postcard book “where the story is explained and photographs of each sweater fills every page.” Each of the photos feature the two sweaters that are involved in each scene in the story. In the last photo, the final sweater appears twice, one image shows off its “long, pink sleeve-tongues,” and the other depicts the sleeves entwined with each other to demonstrate how the sweater can “make out for eternity.”
For Ýr, there’s a story behind every sweater, and the story doesn’t end when we’re done wearing it; each garment has a life of its own.
“Before every sweater arrived to you, the material and process comes from all over the world, touched by many hand by different people having all sorts of days. You put it into a closet and wear it depending on the time of year and the occasion. Even when you get separated its story just keeps on going with an unknown ending.”