Lockdown Knitting Project by Sasha Heinsaar


More practical matters often hinder the pursuit of the passion. Christian Dior studied political science following the course his father set out for him; Pierre Balmain came to Paris to study architecture; Hubert de Givenchy, for a while, law. Happily, they all managed to eventually obey their hearts and create fashion. Sasha Heinsaar, an Estonian 22-year-old, likewise took the long round to get there. Until applying to the Swedish School of Textiles, she earned a business degree, where she just finished her first year, having created a variety of impressive pieces with the resources she had on hand during the lockdown.

drawing by Heinsaar

Heinsaar had also taken some creativity to get to that level. The designer says she was about 10 years old when she discovered YouTube and began watching fashion shows. (The Voss set of Alexander McQueen’s is a favorite.) When it came time for advanced studies, Heinsaar ‘s parents wanted to pick a subject with a career direction that was more definable than clothes, and accepted.  “I felt like since fashion is sort of half creative, half business, I could do a business degree [first],” she says.

Heinsaar spent her spare time working on a portfolio-without a sewing machine-in her study of spreadsheets and techniques. Though she had studied art, Heinsaar didn’t know how to sew.Her solution was to teach herself how to knit and crochet, and her application consisted of “content explorations.” When enrolled, she spent her days and nights studying how to sew and reports that’s she’s now up to speed.

At the moment Knitting is always her favorite medium. “My work is mostly all about material,” she says.”Generally, it guides me, and then in the end it becomes something.” Right now, that “something” is straddling a line between art and fashion. “If you push the material limits, you ‘re also pushing the boundaries of what a garment is and could look like,” Heinsaar observes. “I don’t generally think about what I make as a pair of trousers, or a shirt, or a suit. It’s the material that I allowed to talk first, and whatever fits most the material, that’s the type I ‘m making.

Heinsaar was “devastated” when COVID-19 closed classes, as she had been so looking forward to learning how to knit industrially. Back home, she found that there were unexpected limiting possibilities; in addition, she discovered a rope technique that she would never have done otherwise, and with little to hand, she produced pieces with great impact.

Heinssar began knitting long ropes with a dozen or more yarns and threads in each circular string, using scrap yarns found in thrift shops and a tiny knitting mill so compact that “it’s almost like a toy kids play with.” “Since I mostly used thrift-store yarns, I wasn’t able to find enough yarns of a needed color, so I had to work my way around to achieve the desired color,” she says. “I found this process extremely similar to painting.” Her next step was to assemble the cords, which she then stitched together with variously colored threads “to further influence the perceived color. For example, I mostly used orange-red thread for stitching the darker parts of the garment together, as I wanted it to appear red-purple.”

Heinsaar, who describes her work as emotional and organic in nature, is very intuitive in her way of working. Instead than attempting to turn them into a fixed story, she listens to the content. Heinsaar is inspired by art but not consciously self-referencing.In this project, she had photos of cables in server rooms and pieces by the artist Nisse Bergman, who works with electrical cables. She also studied the great colorist Mark Rothko ‘s paintings and came away wondering if his hues and shapes might “be turned into a garment and have a similar effect.” The above pictures provide the answer: Yes.



Kajal Arya

NIFT Bhubaneswar