Annie Larson Makes Sweater Art
The knitwear whiz gets all luxe.
You wouldn’t think it would be a sweater designer’s dream to work in steamy Miami, but Annie Larson, the color-happy talent behind the line ALL Knitwear, could not have been more thrilled to head south from Minneapolis (where she was then living) to work with one of her artistic idols, Jim Drain, and put some grant money and cashmere yarn to good use. Here, she shares her experience.
“About four years ago, a friend introduced me to Jim Drain’s work. But Jim was actually the one who reached out to me, soon after I started knitting, when he was working on a sweater series for Opening Ceremony. He sent me a really friendly email that just said something like, ‘You’re doing a really great job. Keep it up.’ And I just felt great. It was really exciting. We started emailing a little. When this grant proposal for the Textile Center in Minneapolis came around, I knew that I was going to apply for it, but I didn’t know exactly what my proposal was going to be. The day before the application was due, I asked Jim if he would be open to the idea of me writing a proposal to come to Miami to work with him.”
“I worked with Jim in his studio every day for a week and made a sweater that was shown at an exhibition. I was inspired by a series of benches that Jim was working on while I was there—professionally powder-coated, custom-colored benches made out of handicap rails that you would find in places like bathrooms. He sells them as functioning sculptures.”
“I feel like there are definitely parallels between that sort of transaction and the sort of sweaters I make—the wearable art idea. My Miami sweater was also a very literal translation of Jim’s color scheme—I really connected with the lime green, hot pink, and black. I used cashmere, which plays on the high-end feeling of Miami and the fact that I wanted to do something different than anything I would do on a daily basis.”
“The cashmere yarn is very, very delicate. It was a lot more stressful to work with than cotton, and obviously the stakes are a lot higher when your material is five times your regular material cost. I’m using the remainder of the yarn from the Miami sweater to make ten scarves, and there aren’t any plans for cashmere after that!”
Bench photo courtesy of Jim Drain.