PRO­FILE: LONDON KAYE

Street artist London Kaye has found a way to make her cro­chet su­per ex­pres­sive – by us­ing it to cre­ate amaz­ing in­stal­la­tions.

Simply Crochet - - CONTENTS -

Vivid, colour­ful, pow­er­ful and of­ten packed with tongue-in-cheek hu­mour, London Kaye’s cro­cheted street art will stop you in your tracks, in­spire you and help you see the world a lit­tle dif­fer­ently.

For the Los An­ge­les-born artist, it all be­gan one af­ter­noon in 2002. “I was 13 years old and learned to cro­chet from my best friend’s Mom,” she re­calls. “She taught me and three of my friends on the same day. I stuck with it, maybe be­cause it en­ables me to clear my head and be in the present. I also love to make, and cro­chet is all about that.”

Part of the ap­peal for London was hav­ing the means to make her wild imag­in­ings into real, vis­ual items she could have, hold and of­ten wear. “What ini­tially at­tracted me was the abil­ity to make some­thing out of noth­ing,” she says. “My first cro­chet project was a scarf. I used a re­ally big cro­chet hook and it was all sin­gle cro­chet.”

MINI EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR

Be­fore long, London re­alised that she could use her new skill to start a com­mer­cial busi­ness, and at just 13 years old she be­gan sell­ing the scarves she hooked. “At the age of 16 I bought my­self a car with the scarf money I’d earned,” she says.

The prompt to take her cro­chet cre­ations out to adorn the world was an en­counter with famed cro­chet artist Olek (you’ll find an in­ter­view with her in is­sue 57 of Sim­ply Cro­chet).

“I wrapped a scarf on a tree the day after I met Olek in April 2013,” London says. “She in­spired me. I met her while work­ing at the Ap­ple store after I grad­u­ated and I saw that she had an amaz­ing cro­chet bag with her.”

After Olek left the store, London Googled her name. “I was shocked! Be­fore then, I never thought that cro­chet­ing could be so cre­ative.”

The next day, London wrapped that lime green and shock­ing pink scarf around a tree in Brook­lyn and re­alised she’d in­stalled her first piece of street art. “It made me see it could be pos­si­ble for cro­chet to be my full-time job. I be­gan to cre­ate in a way than I never knew was

pos­si­ble,” she says. “I could layer shapes to­gether to cre­ate pic­tures.”

London set her­self a 30-day chal­lenge. “Ev­ery day for 30 days I put a cro­cheted item out­side and left it there for peo­ple to en­joy.”

A CRO­CHET IN­NO­VA­TOR

To­day it con­tin­ues to be a pas­sion for London. “Cro­cheted street art is so fun,” she en­thuses. “I truly en­joy ev­ery step of the process, from cro­chet­ing, to hang­ing it up, to step­ping back and ob­serv­ing the re­ac­tions from peo­ple.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, cro­chet is now her work-life too. “I’m a full-time cro­chet artist – I work with brands and com­pa­nies cro­chet­ing for ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns,” she says. “One of my favourite projects was a cro­chet bill­board I did in Times Square, New York, for Miller Lite beer. It was 25 by 50 feet and hung there for the Christ­mas hol­i­days. The whole thing was made of yarn!”

Other clients in­clude Star­bucks, snack food pro­ducer Chex Mix and The Gap, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing her own range of cheery cro­chet kits.

The hard­est part for London is, in­evitably, ev­ery­thing that’s re­quired when the stitches pause. “I can spend all day cro­chet­ing, so the big­gest chal­lenge for me is the busi­ness side – how to run a suc­cess­ful en­ter­prise while re­main­ing cre­ative and pas­sion­ate.”

London’s most ex­cit­ing project to date was a cap­sule col­lec­tion she col­lab­o­rated on with fash­ion de­signer Red Valentino. “In ad­di­tion to a line of clothes, I cro­cheted 14 win­dow dis­plays for their flag­ship stores around the world. I got to fly to London and Rome for two openings where I in­stalled the cro­chet live. This com­bined my two favourite things – cro­chet­ing and trav­el­ling the world!” London loves to head out and im­merse her­self in the en­ergy of her sur­round­ings. “My favourite place to work is a new city or place around the world,” she says. “There’s noth­ing like that kind of in­spi­ra­tion.”

How­ever, she also rel­ishes re­treat­ing to her own space to al­low ideas to flow. “I also like to dream big in my art stu­dio.”

Fresh con­cepts and ideas spring from a wide va­ri­ety of sources. “The kind of things that in­spire a new de­sign for me are cur­rent events and pop cul­ture,” she says. “I am also hugely in­spired by beau­ti­ful colour pal­ettes.”

London finds plenty to fire up her imag­i­na­tion on­line too. “I en­joy the Gucci In­sta­gram feed. They fea­ture incredible artists, beau­ti­ful fash­ion, and bright colours.”

LOV­ING EV­ERY STITCH

Lion Brand Yarn (www.li­on­brand.com) is among London’s most de­voted clients, and re­cently she teamed up with them to cre­ate her own yarn and hook col­lec­tions.

“My go-to tools are my London Kaye Yarn and Hook Col­lec­tion,” she says. “The yarn is made for both in­door and out­door projects and the 20mm cro­chet hook is dif­fer­ent from any other on the mar­ket – I in­vented it us­ing 3D print­ing. It com­bines all of the best fea­tures of a big cro­chet hook into one. You’ve got to try it out!”

With colour such a vi­tal and vi­brant part of London’s de­signs, she keeps the ac­tual stitches sim­ple. “My favourite tech­nique is sin­gle cro­chet (dou­ble cro­chet in the UK). I like to use a big cro­chet hook and just a few shades of yarn.”

This sum­mer in New York has been a par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing one. “I was at Ozy Fest in New York City along­side jour­nal­ist and au­thor Mal­colm Glad­well, TV per­son­al­ity Martha Ste­wart, and politi­cian Joe Bi­den.” See a video of London’s in­spi­ra­tional

Ozy Fest cro­cheted in­stal­la­tion from 2017 here: http://bit.ly/SC75_lon­donkaye.

“For 2018, I cre­ated an in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tion with the theme ‘See Be­yond.’ Peo­ple pinned where in the world they want to be in five years.” The big ques­tion, of course, is where will London be in five years? Her an­swer is sim­ple. “In five years I hope I am still happy, healthy, trav­el­ling the world, and, of course, cro­chet­ing!” Writ­ten by Judy Dar­ley

Find out more at www.lon­donkaye.com

“I WAS SHOCKED! I NEVER THOUGHT THAT CRO­CHET­ING COULD BE SO CRE­ATIVE”

Yarn bomb­ing on a new level – London Kaye’s street art takes cro­chet to the masses.

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