Crocheting is more than a way to kill time on weekday evenings. If you’re Dina Knapp, it’s an art form that she has pretty much made her own. Over the last few decades, Knapp has been crocheting wearable art for collectors and celebrities like Cher, Donovan, Elton John, Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman, and her non-wearable pieces have been featured in museums all over the country. “Sewn Dreams”, a new exhibit dedicated solely to her work, is on display at the Miami International Airport through the end of January 2012. Knapp took some time away from her busy schedule to tell us about her work and some of the people it has inspired, including Bob Marley.
How did you begin crocheting art?
I was studying fine art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the late Sixties. A group of us women were supposed to do an end of the year show through drawing or print-making, but we decided to go non-conventional and make our final projects with crocheting needles and yarn. It started from there and the rest is history.
What was your first piece?
A very strange dress. I went the local crafts store and bought some really cheap yarn and just went crazy. It turned out really beautiful, influenced by American Indian motifs and bright colors reflecting the late 60’s Flower Power.
Why did you stick to crocheting over other artistic mediums?
There are so many possibilities with it. It can become very sculptural and very graphic. It can also be worn.
You are well-known for your hats. How did this begin?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got a cold and was home all the time. So I began crocheting hats and the thing about hats is that you finish one and go on to another. They’re kind of like artist sketches. One idea turns into the next idea and it’s very exciting. So one day when I was home and probably on some cold medication I made twenty hats in a day. I’m a bit of a workaholic, but that was another jumping off point as an artist.
There’s a rumor that Bob Marley was buried in a Tam hat you made for him. Is that true?
My husband and I loved Reggae and were going to Jamaica a lot in the late seventies. A lot of the Rasta kids were wearing these boring beige hats with red, gold and green. So my take on it was to make one more extravagant, meant for a king. Once I started it, I realized it should be given to Bob. We were friends with Bob’s producer so I passed it along, and Bob wore it regularly the last few years of his life. A few years later a filmmaker at Bob’s open casket funeral saw that he was wearing it. That might be the biggest “wow” moment of my life.
Sam Feeder is a poet/writer/ photographer who works primarily in Los Angeles and Austin. Feeder is a careful observer and tries to experience as many different aspects of life as possible, ranging from travels all over the world to discovering that hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar no one knows about.
Images: Courtesy of Diana Knapp
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