A Summer of Spinning and Monster FeetMeet Fiber Artist Christine Pfortmiller
|Christine Pfortmiller yarn bombing North Platte, Nebraska, with monster feet. Photo: Laura Barger.|
|The joy of the unexpected. Photo: Laura Barger.|
I had the great pleasure to meet Christine Pfortmiller at the first Interweave Yarn Fest held last year in Loveland, Colorado. She is an inspired fiber artist, brimming with positive yarn energy and fibery goodwill. She spins, knits, crochets, and designs for her Etsy shop, RhinoSaurusRex Knits.
I've been following her work this summer with Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful on her Facebook page and Instagram feed. Part performance art, part community service, Christine has been painting sidewalks with original artwork and yarn bombing benches near her Nebraska home. Her work was even covered by the local newspaper a few weeks ago! I asked her to tell us a bit more about her fiber work and her summer spent adding crocheted monster feet to public benches:
Kate Larson (KL): "Christine, I love your work and really enjoy seeing your distinctive aesthetic—what inspires you?"
Christine Pfortmiller (CP): "Our everyday life should be just as magical as any fairy story. We need to keep our eyes open to the trolls that live under bridges, the unicorns walking down our streets… or the monsters guarding our benches. This sense of whimsy and fantasy is something I try to instill through both my Etsy shop and my most recent yarn bomb in downtown North Platte."
KL: "How did you get involved with Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful?"
CP: "This summer, I was given the great privilege of participating in a drain water awareness project through Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful, a local non-profit focusing on environmental responsibility. Within two weeks our downtown was alive with murals of goldfish, turtles, and waterfalls to remind us that our drinking water system empties directly into the river.
"On this project, I painted an extra large octopus assisting another octopus to escape from a drain grating. Painting on a public space was one of my life goals, and it was an entirely liberating experience. It reminded me that this little stop along I-80 is MY town, and it was time to take the magic out of my daydreams and make it a reality."
KL: "How long have you had your Etsy shop and how did you get your start?"
CP: "My Etsy shop, RhinoSaurusRex Knits has been my full time passion since 2009, though I started a few years earlier. I quit my day job to focus entirely on creating fairytale inspired hats, scarves, and other winterwear accessories. In my process, I take the elements of a character or creature and distill them down to the most necessary, then use crochet or knit to interpret their attributes. I find it very fulfilling when a child puts on one of my hats and then starts roaring like a dragon or howling like a wolf."
|Christine spinning on her Ashford Country wheel in her sunny backyard. Photo: Laura Barger.|
KL: "When did you learn to spin, knit, and crochet?"
CP: "I've been crocheting since I was twelve and designing my own patterns since I was fourteen. Although crochet is one of the more humble forms of fiber craft, the structure and shaping it lends to the fibers just can't be beat. Crocheting is my jam! Especially for this project, the monster claws conveyed the shape I wanted to achieve through the use of hundreds of single crochet stitches.
"I love spinning—it is such a juxtaposition from my daily tasks of knitting and crocheting fanciful winter accessories. For RhinoSaurusRex Knits, I must make each item quickly and precisely. While spinning, I must slow myself down, force myself to relax, or I will end up with a tight, overspun mess. Also, little slubby mistakes add to the character of the yarn, add another dimension to the yarn in a way that a factory spun yarn can't."
KL: "What have you been spinning this summer? Do you have a new fiber crush?"
CP: "This summer I've been spinning glorious chain ply and lofty corespun, two new techniques I learned this past spring. My spinning mentor and fellow Fiber Artists of Nebraska guild member, Brenda Robinson, taught me to chain ply. Leicester whisperer, Kate Larson, taught me to corespin. They are my two fiber heroes. To watch them spin, with all their knowledge being transmitted through their bodies and into their fingers, commanding the fibers to twist in the most stunning way; it is pure kinetic poetry. They inspired me to have the same quiet confidence in my spinning."
KL: "That makes me so happy, Christine! I loved meeting you and Brenda at Yarn Fest and then watching your spinning skills continue to grow and thrive. Thanks for sharing your passion for all things fiber with us!"
Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 is back! Join us for the event in Loveland, Colorado, on March 31‒April 3, 2016.