Alder & Alder



Alder & Alder

About The Artist

Elaine Alder •
Fiber and Textiles - Homegoods • CUSTOM COMMISSIONS

I am a textile artist specializing in weaving, hand knitting, machine knitting, embroidery, felting, and fiber sculpture. I am also a quilter and garment designer. I am the Marine Debris Artist-in-Residence at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (Sept 2023-Sept 2024), but am continuing my weaving and machine knitting explorations concurrently. My weaving is geometric, emphasizing the qualities of natural fibers, while my knitting, felting, and embroidery depict organic or figurative forms that evoke the natural world, such as the shapes of animals, plants, fungi, or the movements of water. I hope that people who view and interact with my work will find a mirror through which they will experience deep empathy. I hope that we can change the culture and value systems around us through our aesthetic choices, adorning our homes, bodies, and public spaces with beautiful, ecologically responsible art.



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Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I put a lot of research and effort into selecting appropriate fibers for specific works. I use second-hand fibers much of the time, but when I use new fibers I'm very selective and often source raw wool fleeces, which I wash, spin, and botanically dye. The works in the submitted samples are woven, hand-knit, and machine-knit. I weave on a four shaft floor loom, and knit by hand or on a double bed Passap knitting machine, using hand-manipulation techniques. I chart out a lot of my designs using grids on a computer, and enjoy using repeating motifs.


What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

My Grandmother taught me to sew when I was a child. The deeper I dig into fiber and textile art, the more I find there is to explore, in regard to both subject and material. I love the way wool feels in my hands when I spin it, the squeak and shuffle of the loom when I am weaving, the warmth of a finished shawl or sweater, and being able to offer warmth, protection, or spectacle to others. Our natural world is under siege, and us along with it. Plastics suffocate wildlife and humans alike: plastic microfibers have been found in rain water, in the snow on Everest, and in our own bodies. I'm committed to not using any new plastics in my work, to pointing the way for others, and advocating for a cultural and structural shift.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Many of my pieces are multi-functional and can be worn as shawls, hats, kerchiefs, etc. My wearable weavings come with a magnetic closure, which won't damage the cloth and can be worn with other garments or used in other ways. Many of my knits are double knit and fully reversible, or textured in a way that is visually and tactilely pleasing on both sides. I don't use patterns to create any of my work; all of it is designed exclusively by me.