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10,000 Hours of Knitting

A Kansas City artist decided to test the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to master something. Laura Isaac, thirty-four, challenged herself to take up knitting.

In February 2011, Laura took her first knitting lession. She logs all of her knitting time and project details in a computer spreadsheet. At the end of September, she had logged about 1,800 hours, and said she now considers herself an advanced intermediate knitter.

Isaac recently brought her 10,000 hours project to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for this year’s ArtPrize competition. She was invited by a venue curator hired by the city of Grand Rapids to create an installation that would interplay with the city’s most prominent artistic symbol, La Grande Vitesse — the steel sculpture created in 1969 by Alexander Calder.  To complete her entry, Isaac knit 10 i-cord ropes (on size-17 needles), and a series of colored panels, that she used to create a temporary web over the sculpture. 

Initially, Isaac worried that dedicating large blocks of time to knitting i-cord would not challenge her enough. But then, she decided to use the opportunity to work on increasing her speed.  “At the beginning, it took me three and a half hours to get through one full skein,” she said. “At the end, I was knitting it in just under two.”

Altogether, creating the soft web took 120 skeins of acrylic yarn, and 150 hours. Isaac used tennis balls to throw 10 brightly colored ropes over The Calder.  Each measured between 75 and 90 feet, and was loosely anchored to the ground on two sides of the sculpture. Slack left in the ropes allowed them to move in the wind and cast dancing shadows on the ground below the sculpture.  The final installation landed Isaac on this year’s ArtPrize Best Urban Space short list.

Congrats to another great YARN-A-HOLIC.  Best wishes in you remaining 8,000 hours.  I can’t wait to see your next work of art!

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