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Knitted minatures from Althea Crome

13
Nov '08
She can knit sweaters so small, six could fit on your index finger with room to spare. She can create cityscapes in socks tiny enough for a doll or famous paintings in cardigans 1/12th the size of a person's clothing.

Bloomington resident Althea Crome has been knitting since her college days, but only in the past seven years has she miniaturized her art form to 1/12 scale – the scale used for doll houses – or even 1/144 scale – the scale used for doll houses inside doll houses.

It started as a hobby to create doll clothes for her children, but Crome has pushed the art to such extremes that it has landed her a two-page spread in the book, “Ripley's Believe It or Not: Prepare to be Shocked,” published this year.

“Though I realize that certainly my art is not the norm, and what I do is not the norm, it's normal to me,” Crome said. “I have always been the kind of person that has enjoyed a challenge and has enjoyed going off the grid a little bit and doing things a little differently. For me, it's what gives me satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I would be a terrible office worker, a 9-to-5 kind of person. This really suits me well.”

Originally, “Ripley's Believe It or Not!” wanted to feature Crome's knitted miniatures in one of their Odditoriums, museums dedicated to the weird and outlandish. Though they did not purchase any of her works for exhibition, she earned a spot in their latest book on surprising oddities from around the world.

“It is technically very difficult to do because it's at such a small scale and so very detailed,” Crome said. “So when I say that it's a new art form, what I'm talking about is that I am working toward getting out of the doll house arena so it's not seen as doll clothes, but rather art in and of itself, because the pieces I'm making now are very conceptual in their design. The imagery I knit into it is reflected in the design of the garment itself.”

Her bug-knitting is so rare, she must produce her own needles made from surgical steel in order to form her smallest creations. For works that tiny, she also has to use a magnifying glass. Currently Crome's miniature art is featured in the Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting exhibit, which has traveled from New York City to Indianapolis. It is now in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Crome has also knitted various miniature and full-sized garments for the upcoming 3-D fantasy film “Coraline,” which will be released in February 2009.

Indiana Daily Student


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