WORKS – Max Alexander’s Knitted Moths

In ALL, WORKS by Alex Pedersen

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.

Max Alexander

jersey tiger moth

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.

Max Alexander

Moths On Display

Max Alexander

Zygaena Fausta Moth

Max Alexander

zaddachs emperor moth

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.

Max Alexander

Moth Collection

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.

Max Alexander

Madagascan Moth In Progress

Max Alexander

Madagascan Sunset Moth

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.

Max Alexander

Blood Vein Moth

Max Alexander

Peach Blossom Moth

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About the Author

Alex Pedersen

Alex is a critical scholar and social scientist. During her degrees, Alex recognized a dearth of knowledge transfer between the academy and the general public. To address this gap, she extends her empirical research through multiple mediums including: publications, formal lectures, public speaking events, radio, theatre and photography. In diversifying access to her research, Alex honed a unique set of skills to plan, design and produce events for a wide variety of audiences. To date, she was responsible for several successful lecture series, community events and fundraisers across diverse settings. Most notably, Alex organized and implemented the 2015 Chancellor Dunning Trust Lectureship and was an advisor for the “Free Queen’s” Steering Committee (an initiative encouraging graduates to bring their work to the wider public). In addition, she has written numerous successful grant applications. An activist at heart, Alex advocates for critical thinking in and beyond academic institutions.