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I Yarn-Bombed This

An insatiable crocheter makes sweaters for bikes, teapots, and entire apartments.

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Photographs by Dean Kaufman.


OBSESSION: Crochet


Growing up in harshly cold, gray Ruda Slaska, ­Poland, Agata Oleksiak (now known solely as Olek) took creative refuge in colorful crafts, making bright Barbie clothes and the occasional crocheted hat. ­But it wasn’t until 2002, after moving to Greenpoint and teaching herself English by watching subtitled movies, that she picked up a crochet hook at the dollar store and her former hobby erupted into an obsession. Now an established artist—she’ll show at the Smithsonian in 2012—the 33-year-old Olek covers everything from mundane household objects to public sculptures to people in her loopy yarn confections. See someone riding the subway in a head-to-toe crocheted bodysuit? Chances are, he’s Olek’s latest canvas. Her largest installation to date is a fifteen-by-fourteen-foot studio apartment, wherein ­every wall, picture frame, television, and toilet is wrapped in its own custom sweater. Originally stitched in Olek’s own Park Slope apartment, the crocheted mini-universe is currently ­exhibiting at ­Christopher Henry Gallery in Nolita, where it will remain until May 28. The gallery’s assistant director, ­Jason LeBlond, confirms what you might have speculated about Olek, who is rarely spotted not wearing a crocheted cardigan or collar: “There is no separation between her art and her life.”


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