Flash of colour

550 knitted jerseys, one flash mob, an explosion of colour... its all in Christien Meindertsma's new project, The Collected Knitworks of Loes Veenstra.

What do you get when you combine 550 knitted jerseys and a flash mob? An explosion of colour!

Christien Meindertsma was asked by Museum Rotterdam and Wandschappen to design “something new” with the 550 sweaters that had been knitted, over the years, by an elderly lady in the south of Rotterdam named Loes Veenstra.

The story goes that Veenstra has been knitting jerseys since the 1950s and while she had given much of it away, she’d made so many that more than 500 of these jerseys were still without a home. Over the years most of the yarn and wool Veenstra used has been donated to her, and she’d always make sure she used every last bit of it. The result often being eccentric colour and material additions to the various knits.

As much of Meindertsma work explores the life of different materials, she decided to document the jerseys into a book, The Collected Knitwork of Loes Veenstra.

Meindertsma explains her intention with the book: “In the book I tried to categorise the sweaters so that you can see the same yarn or pattern return in different pieces. What is quite special is that almost all pieces were knitted without a pre-made pattern, she [Veenstra] just improvised and used what she had at the time.”

More than just a collection of knitted jerseys from yesteryear, the collection serves a kind of catalogued history of the kinds of yarn materials that have been used since the 1950s, Meindertsma explains. “Like synthetic silver and gold threads, or the neon pink Angora wool from the 1980s,” she adds.

But why settle for just a book when there can be a flash mob too?! “I thought there was something tragic about the fact that all those sweaters had never been worn,” Meindertsma says. Her solution was to organise a surprise flash mob for Veenstra in the street outside her house, with all the “flashers” wearing a Veenstra original.

The flash mob comprised dancers, a band, a choir, a marching band, a twirl group and many volunteers – all wearing the jerseys. “I colour-coordinated who was wearing which sweaters as precisely as possible so that Veenstra and other viewers would see all the knitwork at once, in the best possible way,” Meindertsma explains.

See, below, a look at the video of this initiative.

The project has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2013 Dutch Design Awards

Watch the Talk with Christien Meindertsma