Max Alexander is a UK-based artist who started knitting moths in 2014 using Shetland wool. In her interview, we learn more about her scientific inspiration for the series: Knitted Moths.
What inspired you to create Knitted Moths?
I knitted a few creatures including an octopus and an axolotl (a species of salamander) when a friend suggested that I make a rosy maple moth. I wasn’t particularly interested, (I thought all moths were boring and brown!). When I saw that moths could be bright pink and yellow, I thought it could be fun. I started researching moths, only to discover how many different and amazing varieties there are. It quickly became addictive! I was working part-time in a yarn shop/gallery called Prick Your Finger and the owner, Rachael Matthews, offered the space for an exhibition. That was in November 2014, it was great to show them off and I was delighted by how popular they were.
Can you described what is involved in creating your SciArt work?
Once I choose a moth, I study as many different pictures and/or specimens as I can find. Then I sketch out a pattern for the wings on graph paper and start knitting. I often have to adjust it as I go to keep the shapes as accurate as possible. Once the wings are complete I make the body, legs, and antennae, then stitch it all together. Once done, I put them in frames with a label with the common and scientific name. I like to think they would look at home in a natural history museum.
Which Knitted Moth piece stands out to you the most and why?
I have become more confident in choosing complicated moths since I started. The early ones only used three or four colours, but I recently completed the Madagascan Sunset Moth, which used 16 different shades. Using more colours makes the knitting a lot slower, but I think it’s worth it even if I do spend a lot of time untangling all the different strands of yarn. It is by far the biggest piece so far.
What impact do you hope to achieve with this body of work?
I hope to show people that moths can be every bit as stunning as butterflies. I have made 45 different moths so far, and there is so many more that I want to knit. Even after three years of moth knitting I am still coming across new species that blow me away.