knitting needle jewelry :: reduce reuse reimagine

Knitting Needle Rings by Liana Kabel

Jewelry made from upcycled, recycled, or otherwise repurposed materials is a lot like, well, let’s say it’s a lot like any other jewelry: there’s some good, a good deal more bad, and some very very ugly. Any of us who owned a wire jewelry-making set as a kid knows that it’s not like it’s super hard to first venture into the jewelry-making world.

Perhaps most unfair of all for the aspiring jewelry designer, the best jewelry out there always seems like the simplest. It’s the stuff that makes us say things like, “oh, I could make that.” And try as we might, usually we end up with something that looks a bit more like a home-ec project and a little less like a sleek, understated accessory.

I think this is ten times truer for jewelry made from repurposed materials. It’s not like just anyone can pull off gum-wrapper earrings or skateboard pendants without it looking like they went out to my garage or rummaged my junk drawer and glued a few things onto a pair of cheap, blank studs.

It takes more than the desire to make a positive environmental impact to bring about not simply creative but also successful eco-friendly design.

Today, I want to spark a little bit of debate. Get some conversation going. I want to know if you think these knitting-needle accessories (rings at top of this post, bangle bracelets below, necklaces at the end of the post) by Liana Kabel “work” and if so, why? What makes these successful from a design standpoint? Does it matter that they also happen to use repurposed materials? Is that part of their success or would they be successful even if you didn’t know they once lived a knit-purl life?

Knitting Needle Bangles by Liana Kabel

Yellow Knitting Bangle by Liana Kabel

Knitwit Necklace by Liana Kabel

27 thoughts on “knitting needle jewelry :: reduce reuse reimagine

  1. Not sure that I can get into the necklaces, but the rings and bracelets are definitely a hit. I don’t knit, but I have a lot of friends who do – and that’s so cool to reuse! Go Liana!!

  2. In general, I think they do work. Some of the pieces seem to work better than others, but isn’t that the case with any collection? It’s nice to know that the pieces are made from repurposed materials, but the real allure comes from the quirky nature of the jewelry (whether previously used or designed only to live the life of an accessory). In addition to the quirky aspect of the pieces, these can be deemed successful because (1) there is a clean, simple design; (2) most of the knitting needles chosen could be considered attractive in their own right (strong colors, interesting materials); and (3) they likely already have a built in audience…knitters. Just my 2 cents :-)

  3. I think these absolutely work for a number of reasons: from a design standpoint, they’re well designed (especially the rings–you can hardly tell they are knitting needles, but once someone tells you what they are, it totally makes sense). They utilize the form and shape of the material in a new and interesting way. It’s very clever–and I find myself & others are drawn to ‘clever’ design a lot!

    I also think Liana was ingenious in designing something that appeals to a very big ‘niche’ market–knitters! Knitting has seen such a huge resurgence in the past few years & knitters are a really engaged, dedicated group. While many other groups of artists/crafters/hobbists often form groups and communities, nothing comes close to the avid community that knitters have created over the past few years. (Disclaimer: I’m definitely NOT a knitter!) What’s even better for the artist that makes this jewelry is that she is offering something NEW and UNIQUE that appeals to this very engaged market. She’s offering a knitting-related product that not everyone can make themselves. SO smart. The fact that it’s a repurposed product is an added bonus!

  4. Yes, the totally work – because 1) they are surprising once you figure out what they are made from and 2) because they have a history, a backstory which we all find significant and important
    – the fact that they can have a little eco tag swinging from them too is an added bonus. I take my hat of to the girl.

  5. Love that you ask the hard questions Tara!

    Okay, I think those rings are fantastic. 1) the color, excellent choice, very current to todays trends 2)SIMPLE design – simple almost always equals timeless so this is something you could pull out 10 years from now and tho the colors may not be the trend then, the simple design will anchor it.

    the bracelets? meh, not my favorite but i think knitters will love them.
    the necklace? def art pieces and worn by the bold! love them, fierce!

    do i care that they are recycled? yes, because i like that they already have history before i wear them. and i think recycling inherently has a narrative quality that draws you in.

  6. The rings and necklace are cool no matter what. I like the bracelets because they’re knitting needles, but don’t necessarily love them otherwise.

    The great thing about jewelry is, everyone has different tastes, so what you may not like, someone else may love.

    Also wondering where in the world does someone get so many used knitting kneedles to specialize in such a niche market?

  7. As a knitter I LOVE the bracelets! I know my knitting friends would freak over them, too. I’m not a big jewelry person, but my love of knitting would get me wearing that bracelet for sure.

    I love repurposed products, again, probably because I’m not a jewelry person. It has to be something crazy to get me to wear it, so this would be exactly it.

  8. They totally work; I would love to wear a bracelet made out of knitting needles. I’m particularly drawn to items of beauty made from repurposed, underappreciated components. It’s easy to go into a store and buy stuff and use it exactly as intended. It requires a whole new level of creativity to see something specifically made for one use…and then give it a whole new life. For me, knowing the artist did THAT adds a completely new dimension to a piece and I’m more likely to appreciate and purchase it.

  9. I love the bracelet and rings. I am not a knitter, but wish I was. I love things that are made from stuff that has outlived the original function. Where would the knitting needles come from. They actually do have a lifespan. They get lost, are replaced, and then found. They come from folks like me who try and try again and get frustrated and donate the whole to the thrift store. The necklace is not my style, but I can think of people who would love it. Maybe it is the simplicity or the colors or save-the-planet or the design concept, whichever, I say it is a hit.

  10. i dig the rings. not so much the necklace and bracelet. but, i’m a ring person. I’m drawn to accessories that seem to be a little off the beaten path. kudos!

  11. The rings work for me because of their simple, polished design. I like that they don’t look like knitting accessories, as it’s a fine line before you cross into tchotchke-looking (the bracelets).
    I do take issue with the repurposing of materials and charging outrageous prices. $45 for a plastic knitting needle stuck in a pot of boiling water or $75 for a Tupperware bowl turned lamp with the addition of a $5.00 light kit signifies to me nothing more than a marketing ploy to attract trend-mongering hipsters rather than a real desire to further a “green” movement.

  12. I’m totally thrilled to have gotten this much conversation going. I love seeing what you all think about eco-friendly design, how you judge it, and who it best suits.

    THANK YOU all for chiming in with your input. In a way, my column is so much about the comments this week, so you’ve all made me very happy AND you’ve given me some things to think about for future columns. Score!

  13. I’m a knitter and love the rings,not so much the others BUT the repurposing aspect is very cool. I do it in my work with buttons and especially my clocks using plates and CDs. When I rescue something and change it’s use, I’m very happy!

  14. Thank you for some honest discussion on the topic of jewelry made from repurposed materials. I’m enjoying reading it.

    For myself, the design aspect is most important. I do often use recycled/repurposed materials because they have a history and a connection to myself (making jewelry from old Tupperware because my mother was a Tupperware Lady) and for the wearer (reminds them of their grandmother knitting).

    Overall I am drawn to strong and simple pieces, that make me think ‘I wish I had thought of that’! Although I know from experience it can take a really long time to come up with a ‘simple’ idea.

  15. They absolutely work.

    I’ve been a fan of Liana Kabel’s for years. Those rings have been on my mental ‘things I want’ list for years. I’m not a knitter but as a jeweller I greatly appreciate her sense of form & color. As has been mentioned already, it is often the simplest pieces that are hardest to perfect.

  16. I love these bright fun and classically simple pieces. The quality of this work is very high and her pieces transcend the materials they are made from. My only suggestion though is that if something is still useful and desirable in and of itself how is repurposeing it good for the environment or green? I don’t know, perhaps these are odd un matched needles and the tupperware may be damaged pieces? In that case I would agree with calling it green. I really enjoy this work but wonder at times about the labelling of repurposed items.

  17. If I knew nothing of knitting, I’d still like those bracelets and rings, but the necklace doesn’t do it for me. I feel like the necklace could be executed in a more subtle way that’s more wearable.

  18. I love them, but i’m a knitter, so I may be more partial to the reuse. but, I also think they are very creative and I love seeing things used ina new way. i’m taking a design class and the professor last night asked us if we had heard of a saying ” Seeing something for what else it is” insetad of the usual see it for what it is.

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