Sweater goals: Wearable travel stories of Sam Barsky
Colourful threads made into artistic sweaters??! Sam Barsky who lives in Baltimore knows how to free knit jumpers with famous landmarks. What’s so special about it? He also takes pictures with it when he goes there. Being fans of knitting we adore Sam for being an amazing magician of threads, also he seemed to be a person worth getting to know better, so here is what we found out.
How do you choose objects you want to show?
My next sweater design is usually based on whatever travels or events or holidays are upcoming. If not for any of those, it is whatever I feel like next.
How do you choose colours you are using? Where do you buy/get yarn?
I buy most of my yarn at yarn shops, some at chain stores, some at festivals, and some is given to me by other people. I choose what colors to use based on a mixture of reality, artistic perception, and yarn colors available.
What was your first knit? Can you describe it?
I started my knitting life with two monochromatic sweaters that took me about a year to complete. Then I made a sweater featuring a map of the world from a pattern. Then I started freehanding my own designs, and I started with a sweater that featured a picture of a waterfall and a covered bridge.
What do you like about knitting so much? What about other techniques like crochet, embroidery, wool felting? Have you tried them?
I enjoy that knitting gives me the freedom to create what I want and enjoy my creations thereafter. I have tried unsuccessfully to learn how to crochet as well, and to knit certain other types of garments, such as socks, though very likely I will try again in the future when I have more time. I know lots of felters and I have thought of trying felting one day. Never thought of embroidery.
Do you knit with a knitting machine? Why do you prefer hand knitting vs. machine knitting?
I only knit by hand. I have tried machine knitting, but don't know how. I haven't been able to find instruction.
What do you usually do on the side when you are knitting?
Most of my knitting is done in social knitting groups with others. If I'm at home, usually I watch TV or online videos. I also knit when I go to other places for some other reason and it is possible to do.
Have you studied art?
I never took an art class when I was in college for my regular studies. Many years later, long after having earned my AA degree and after having had my works displayed at a prestigious art museum, I signed up for two art classes at a local community college. I dropped them after two classes because I found they were meaningless to me and were a waste of my time.
Would you like to teach people how to knit?
I very much would love to teach. I have taught basic knitting to a number of people in the past. What I'd really like to teach is how to knit like I do. I feel it is an obligation I have to teach my skills to other people.
Do you have a special knitting system? Do you like choosing a certain number of rows/eyes?
I do not use patterns. I freehand everything. I use yarns that resemble things in the real world when knitted out. For example, a variegated blue yarn can look like a body of water and a marbleized green yarn can look like vegetation.
Generally I estimate where each object shall be with no advance planning. Sometimes when specific location matters, I'll mathematically figure out in my mind where it shall go.
Do you have other hobbies, what are they?
I am a nature lover. So is my wife. We like to spent time together at local parks enjoying the scenery. Less often, we travel some place else and enjoy our findings there. It is the travel and the matching sweaters for which I have become recently renowned. I also cook our dinners and like to make interesting recipes.
How would you describe your personal style in two words?
Freestyle knitting. There is no official name, but that's the best way I can describe it.
If not sweaters/wests what else would be your top choice to knit?
I also knit some charity hats for local hospitals along with a group of volunteers.
You’ve been getting a lot of attention lately, opportunities and support around the world. What you consider to be the best thing that happened to you just because you did what you love ?
The best thing that has happened is that I see opportunity. I see a lot of opportunity to advance my goals in life. Having made a name for myself with all this coverage, I see this as a my works and my field to receive the recognition I've been trying so hard for for so long.
You can see more of Sam work here