About The Artist

Carolyn Barnett

A Brief Outline...

Carolyn Barnett is a wool nut who knits and felts fun and functional garments, however she gets away from the knitting machine or felting table to create web sites. The sites are created under the umbrella of what she has named TwoHatsSimpleSites…the two hats being self explanatory.

She has, at various points in her life, been an early childhood educator, slung hash at the rich and famous, been a studio assistant for two very busy glass artists worked with a miriad of tools and machines in said studios and  taken to the road to flog the glass and her own work.

 

Carolyn's mum knitting on a machine

Mum machine knitting c1960's

Childhood

I learned to knit as a child in England at a time when children were taught knitting in school. 'Woolies' have always been important in that damp climate where you're never more than 70 miles from the sea, but knitting became more than utilitarian in the early 1900's. I started with a pot holder for my Mum and a soft ball on which I learned increasing and decreasing, then, as a teen I knit cardigans for myself in the '60's, however, after immigrating to Canada in 1966.

Learning

Early in the 1970's after much unsuccessful shopping I decided to knit my self the simple cardigan of quality woo I had been seeking. This lead to more for myself and for anyone who asked, at the cost of materials. I taught myself anything I hadn't learned in school or from my Mother.

Though I studied fashion at Sheridan College, and learned much, I did not like the styles of the early '70's so I fulfilled another childhood dream and became a nursery school teacher. Got my Early Childhood Education diploma at Mohawk College.

 

Early Hand Knit modelled by Caroline Yeager

Early hand knit on Caroline Yeager

Hand Knits

1982 saw the birth of Carolyn M. Barnett Designs when I decided to try marketing my 'homey' talents, I had a successful Summer with my cotton hand knits.

Machine Knits

In 1984 I learned to operate a very basic domestic knitting machine to see if I could break my hand knitting bias. I progressed to using a more advanced machine the following year and discovered a new (to me) avenue of creation. Domestic knitting machines have been around for over 400 years.

 

Carolyn at her knitting machine in her studio

...at my knitting machine

Custom Work

Although I have spent many years focusing on custom garments I have enjoyed participating in theatre costume and commercial work. My styles now are more technically refined (more sophisticated, buttonholes, banding, collars etc) and it takes longer to make one cardigan. Also, I devote a day every couple of weeks to making the buttons for the newest pieces, both custom orders and new stock. Working in polymer clay has opened up a new creative outlet and introduced me to more wonderful artisans as colleagues and friends.

Working in 100%wool and cotton and making my own funky buttons to complement the cardigans, my approach is simplicity of style with a lot of fun thrown in. Because the garments are made to last both style wise and structurally, my wish is for the wearer to be able to pull my cardigans out of their closet for many seasons, just as I do.

Ontario Arts Council