A Little Knitting is a Work of Art

This photograph of Chantel Mierau’s knitting, still on the needles, was spotted in the University of Manitoba Bulletin in December 2010. It was a contender in the UM President’s search for a design for a 2010 holiday greeting card.

Intriqued by the obvious skill and patience required to knit using sewing pins for needles and sewing thread for yarn, MCML looked a little deeper and found that Chantel had knit nearly 20 such pieces for an art installation, “Humility, Fear and Trembling”. The image in the UMBulletin was the first of three detail photos from the installation, which was accompanied by a video showing Chantel’s hands as she worked on one of the tiny pieces.


Chantel Mierau is an artist who works in textiles, installation, video and performance. She comes from a small rural Mennonite community in Saskatchewan, and this has provided fodder for her recent work centring on identity and the Mennonite/rural work ethic. She majored in drawing in the BFA honours program at the University of Manitoba.

Chantel has served for three years on the steering committee for Mennofolk, an organization that works to promote the arts in Manitoba’s Mennonite community. Her work has been exhibited across Winnipeg, from aceart Inc. in the Exchange District, to in Gallery 111 and GoSA at the University of Manitoba. She is part of an exhibit through The Manitoba Craft Council, entitled “Hovercraft”, which began its tour through three Manitoban cities in March 2011.

In Chantel’s own words:

Using sewing pins as knitting needles, I painstakingly knit little helices out of red thread in order to create an installation. Because of their scale, and their DNA-like structure, this work brings to my mind thoughts about heritage and lineage, as well as traditions, practices and even belief systems that inescapably get passed down from generation to generation.

I learned to knit when I was 18, and then started using it for non-functional pieces two years later upon entering art school. I find that knitting embodies much of the subject matter I want to address in my art such as care, tradition, work and home; I frequently use knitting and other crafts such as quilting, sewing and embroidery in my work. Sadly, I rarely find the time to make functional pieces.



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