We can guarantee you have never seen anything like this before in the world of knitting and crochet. You’d better hold onto your hats… hand knitted life-size replicas of people!
Liisa Hietanen is from Finland and has become famous for her incredible, jaw-dropping creations that have been featured on news outlets around the world.
As you’ll see in the pictures here, the likeness to the person Liisa creates with wool is uncanny. Liisa explained that she didn’t know these people before, but they are local to her hometown and she has gotten to know them while creating their doppelganger.
We interviewed Liisa to find out more about how she creates her knitted sculptures…
What made you decide to crochet life size sculptures and when did you start doing them?
I started in 2009 when I was studying visual art in my first semester. I had an idea that I wanted to make a sculpture of my 1st grade teacher (the teacher I had when I was seven years old) and the idea of crocheting her dawned on me because the technique fit her character perfectly. That’s where it all started and slowly I started making more crochet and knit works, also objects, not only people. Later I started making sculptures of people in my own village. I wanted it to be meaningful to where I live and I wanted to feel connected to the place I live in. The people I crochet might be someone I meet on the street, at a local kids event or the library. They might not be familiar to me other than from seeing them before, but the process of making the works is long and I’ve gotten to know the people well.
How long does it take to produce one sculpture?
It takes several months. A person takes around 4-5 months.
On average how much wool do you use to make a person?
Maybe 1.5 kg to 2 kg depending on the size of the work.
How did you come up with the knitting pattern for such a unique idea?
I don’t use or make patterns. All the parts are freely crocheted and knitted. I go on with the shape loop by loop. I make the frame and shape underneath the work first so I can work around it with the crocheted or knitted parts. The face and hands I make without a shape underneath. I create the shape as I’m making it just like moulding with any other material.
What is the hardest thing about knitting the sculptures – are there particular human features that are hard to create?
The face is the most difficult and interesting to make. I don’t have a routine for making any part, because the works take so long to make and I don’t have the process in recent memory. I think it’s good to start fresh every time. I might come up with better and more interesting ways to do some part of the work.
How long have you been a knitter?
I started doing yarn based handwork when I made my first sculpture “Pirkko” in 2009. Earlier I hadn’t done handcrafts, although I learned the skill in primary school when I was around 10 years old. I picked the technique back up some 20 years later and use the same basics I learned back then.
Can you tell me about any upcoming projects you’ll be working on?
I continue working with villager sculptures and I’m also interested in combining different techniques and readymade objects with my techniques. I’m working on pieces that deal with memory.
We can’t wait to see what Liisa makes next!
Images credited to Marjaana Malkamäki