Interview with Freddie Robins, textile artist
Did you undertake formal training in college or within the industry, or did you find your way into knitting via a different route?
I studied Constructed Textiles at Middlesex University (formerly Middlesex Polytechnic) and the Royal College of Art in London. At both institutions I specialised in knitted textiles and studied under John Allen.
How would you describe your position within the world of knitting?
I would like to be thought of as the anarchic knitter, the knitter who deals with issues as opposed to fashion or function.
What inspires and influences the designs you create for knitted objects?
A weird and wide range of things influences me. Here is a short list: wool, womenswork and feminism, traditional knitting, taxidermy, fear, my childhood and family, the human body, the anatomical preparations of Dr. Frederick Ruysch, crime and murder, the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, word and number games, religion, knitted toys, strange phenomena and sleeping.
What types of materials do you prefer to use?
I like to work in wool. I enjoy subverting this traditionally warm and nurturing fibre. Wool is easy to knit with; it enables me to construct complex forms. It also takes colour well and I enjoy the feel of it as it passes through my hands. I love wool, unfortunately so do the moths!
What would you most like to knit that you haven't made so far?
Like Nellie in the cartoon from my childhood, 'Noah and Nellie', I would like to knit enormous things such as a house, an aeroplane or a bridge. The largest piece that I have made so far measures 3 metres. I would also like to knit my own coffin.
What do you think of the hand knitting 'revival' taking place in the US and which has now reached Britain?
As far as I am concerned any increase in knitting is a good thing. If everyone knitted the world would be a better, happier, and certainly a warmer, place.