(you say it, "knit two together")
In her private writing, published posthumously in 1953 as Earthly Paradise, Colette wrote of her daughter: “She is silent when she sews, silent for hours on end…she is silent, and she – why not write it down the word that frightens me – she is thinking.” Through these silent hours, we communicate with the women who came before us; following their patterns, reading their words. We make, and in making, we respond.
The collection of knitting patterns that comprises k2tog was born out of my preoccupation with these calls and responses—the way I could feel the presence of the knitters & poets who came before me as I worked both of these crafts. The name “k2tog” is borrowed from the language of knitting patterns, an abbreviation which instructs the reader to “knit two together”. As I knitted these tapestries, found female poets who spoke to each other through time, I wove together the crafts of knitting & writing—already more closely aligned than I had realized.
The collection includes three sets of poems: Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sandpiper” (1962) and P.K. Page’s glosa “Poor Bird” (1994); Sylvia Plath’s “Blue Moles” (1960), Anne Sexton’s “Sylvia’s Death” (1963), and Maxine Kumin’s “How It Is” (1974); and several translations by women of Sappho’s “Fragment 113”. Each poet reflects and expands on the lives, deaths, and words of the women who came before her, just as my ‘poems’—the tapestries—contain and reinvent each woman’s language. I wrote the patterns by mapping the stressed and unstressed syllables in the rhythm of each poetic line, and then translating those into knit and purl stitches. Each line of verse is a knitted row and each syllable, a stitch. Quite literally, these knitted poems can be read—if you understand both languages.
- excerpted from k2tog by Jessica Bebenek,
an essay on gendered labour and experimental translation
Hard Twist 12, The Gladstone Hotel (TO), Aug. 23, 2017 - Jan. 3, 2018
The Centre for Expanded Poetics, Concordia University (MTL), Jan. 2017 - Aug. 2017
One Line, White House (TO), Jan. 28, 2017
Regenerate, Gallery 345 (TO), Sept. 2016
Four Poets, Dundas Video (TO), May 2016
Evening Will Come, The Volta (pictures & text, online)
BOOK NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!
A collection of knitting patterns for the 'k2tog' poems, plus an essay on the process and politics of 'translating' from poetry to tapestry, by Jessica Bebenek.
Includes a 39 page chapbook, hand-printed on a risograph printing press in Montreal, QC; 6.5mm patina bamboo knitting needles; and 100 ft. of twine.
Published by Broken Dimanche Press (Berlin), in collaboration with The Centre for Expanded Poetics (Montreal). Design by Zille Sophie Bostinius.
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order k2tog & custom tapestries
Choose from any of the k2tog series of knitted poems. These are made-to-order, each in a limited edition series of 10. Prices range from $60 - $120.
Please use the form for more details on ordering a k2tog knitted poem, or to order a custom knitted poem of your choice!
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