A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

House Study/Handmade

Stephanie Lindquist, Wave Hill’s Arts Programming Fellow, is a frequent presence in the Sunroom, where Robyn Love has set up her workspace and invites visitors to drop by twice a week.

While Glyndor Gallery is usually closed to the public in the winter, this year it has come alive with Wave Hill’s Winter Workspace program. From January until the end of March, a total of seven artists will use the galleries as studios.

Robyn Love, whose studio is located in the Sunroom, decided to use her workspace for a community project called House Study/Handmade. Every Tuesday and Saturday from 11am to 3pm through February 20, Robyn opens the Sunroom to the public. During these workshops, visitors are welcome to card, spin and knit wool that Robyn has naturally dyed, with the promise that they will return hats to Robyn by the end of February. The hats will then be put on display in Wave Hill House beginning in March. After the exhibit, participants are welcome to attend a hat party and exchange their hats amongst each other. All leftover hats will be donated to a local nonprofit. House Study/Handmade has been a fun opportunity for visitors to learn new skills, namely carding, spinning and knitting; but more importantly it has been an opportunity for individuals to contribute to a group effort. 

House Study/ Handmade has attracted diverse visitors—families, young adults, folks from the city and Westchester, master knitters and amateurs alike. It has been especially pleasant to watch visitors take ownership of the project—growing from nervous passersby to volunteer instructors. Once visitors understand the collective mission and begin to handle the fleece, it’s likely they will stay for hours! More than forty people have visited in one day, leaving Robyn busy on the spinning wheel — at left — producing as many skeins as possible. Visitors rush to take skeins (sometimes still wet) and often return for more. So far 15 hats have been collected, including three felted ones.  To dye the wool Robyn has used cochineal, black walnut, tea, orange peels, onion skins, coffee, banana skin, indigo and more, some of which was collected by staff here at Wave Hill.  

As the Arts Fellow in the Visual Arts Department, it has been a wonderful experience to work with Robyn. Like the visitors, I cherish the opportunity to work closely with a professional artist. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed observing Robyn realize this social experiment. Robyn writes in her blog http://myfairisle.blogspot.com/, “When I started this project, I thought one of the key components would be the trust between me, as the maker of the yarn, and the knitters, who had no real obligation to return with a hat. But somehow that issue seems a small point, almost beside the point. The real point, as it turns out, is the experience of making the yarn together.  (The second shot here is of a visitor learning to use the spinning wheel. She’s one of the Sunroom’s repeat visitors.) Even the hats are beside the point. Everyone is enjoying seeing them come back, and some people are doing great things, but they are like little pieces of candy after a great meal. The meal, as it turns out, is being there together.” I agree with Robyn. The social contract between Robyn and the knitters has become a trivial challenge. Simply the communal pleasure of working with wool has naturally united disparate individuals. For me, this fact has undoubtedly been the best part of Robyn’s workshop.

One thought on “House Study/Handmade

  1. Excellent! I have a question about a hamamelis “diane” that I’ve grown for 10 years. It appears vigorous and free of any insect or disease problems, but every year it fails to drop its leaves. Right now (mid-February), it is draped in brown, ragged dead leaves, which makes it impossible to enjoy the orange/red blooms! To bring any branches inside requires tedious snipping of all the leaves to expose the blossoms. Is this tree unique in its recalcitrant ways or is there some cultural problem that causes this behavior? I would appreciate any advice or experience you might have.

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