Award-winning Arlington artist and designer Robin Bergman uses luxury yarns and natural fibers to create hand-loomed knitted clothing and accessories. Loom knitting is a manual process like weaving, using a knitting machine. Robin’s inspirations include oriental rugs, vintage and antique garments, and textiles. All of her designs and fabrics are original and hand-finished in her West Concord studio.
Robin graduated with an MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. While there, artist Grace Hartigan saw that her true love was fiber, and encouraged her to bring textiles into the studio. After graduate school, her aesthetic sensibilities were further refined by experience as a textile conservator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (1980-1984).
Drawing on her training as a painter, emphasis is on treating the sweater surface more like a canvas, experimenting with surface design and unusual juxtapositions of color, texture, pattern and scale—in effect, painting with yarns. Fibers include silk, rayon, cotton, hand-dyed cashmere, bamboo, and rayon chenille. Most garments have between ten and thirty colors.
The making of knitted pieces is particularly challenging because the fabric, patterning and shaped garment pieces are created simultaneously. Fit and comfort are also important; these are not just ceremonial pieces that cannot be worn. Pattern shapings are deceptively simple using short rowing and subtle shaping detail to achieve a total integration of the garment shape with the graphic and painterly surface, allowing the wearer to become the artwork. Robin also explores similar surface design, color, and patterning in quilts and seed beads.
Robin has received much press acclaim with feature articles and covers in publications including Ornament Magazine, American Craft Magazine, Surface Design Journal, Fiber Art Now, The New York Times & The Boston Globe, and is featured in many books including The Art of Beadwork, 2005, The Fiberarts Book of Wearable Art, 2002, and in the Surface Design Journal in Spring 2002 and 1999. Her work has appeared in Hollywood films “The Night Listener” and “Soul Food”, and is in the private collections of Carly Simon, Stephen Tyler, Sweet Honey & The Rock, and others.