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Kathleen Greco

JELLY YARN QUEEN

The Plastic Exploding Inevitable Garden at the Winter Garden, New York, starring Katheleen Greco's amazing plastic "sand," made from her own patented Jelly Yarn. Photo by Helen Wall.

Kathleen is the inventor of Jelly Yarn - a soft pliable vinyl yarn that is wonderful to work with and which she invented specifically for the purpose of knitting and crochet. Jelly Yarn comes in a range of colors, but of particular relevance to the Reef project it comes in electric pink! OhMiGod - it couldn't be any more perfect for the Toxic Reef! As soon as we saw it we knew we had to have this in bulk!

Kathleen sent us a box of Jelly Yarn corals she had crocheted all arranged on a bed of plastic crochet "sand." The corals were wonderful, the sand superlative. We right away we wanted more of this - a lot more - only we wanted it in pink. Kathleen agreed to make some pieces of pink sand, which became the basis of Christine's miniature Plastic Exploding Inevitable Reef, which debuted at the Winter Garden exhibition at the World Financial center in New York (Spring 2008). An expanded incarnation of this installation will be on display at The Hayward - opening in London, June 2008. This time there will be even more hot-pink sand and we are happy to have as much of it as Kathleen can bear to make.

Close-up of Kathleen's pink plastic "sand."

Here is what Kathleen says about herself:

My professional work has evolved from designing products and prototypes to creating sculptural illustrations in plastics as a dimensional illustrator, specializing in conceptual medical/scientific illustrations, for the advertising and editorial industry. My husband, Nick, and I formed Dimensional Illustrators, Inc. to produce, write and design crochet, knit, and craft books.

The Jelly Yarn Story…

The concept for Jelly Yarn™ began a few years ago when I was designing a new knit purse project. I was looking for a yarn that would be similar to patent leather—glossy! I wanted to be able to knit a glossy texture. Creating a "vinyl yarn" was a natural offspring, combing my love of working in plastic and knitwear designs. I envisioned a black round material, that, when knit or crocheted, would resemble shiny waterproof patent leather. I always loved black patent leather shoes! Patent leather was formulated in the 1960s from real leather that produced a shiny glossy surface. Simulated patent leather is produced from vinyl. We founded a company to produce our vinyl yarn specially formulated for knitting and crochet, and branded it, Jelly Yarn™. In keeping with the spirit of the mod, retro theme, the colors are opaque and translucent with bright hues, glow-in-the-dark and metallic colors. Since it is a fun yarn, the colors are aptly named: opaque colors after candy and translucent colors after ices. Jelly Yarn™ is a mod retro-techno new yarn perfect for innovative crochet or knit projects. Our Jelly Yarn book will be published, Fall 2008.

Jelly Yarn Website: http://www.jellyyarns.com
Contact email: jellyyarns@3dimillus.com

Kathleen Greco baking a large piece of Jelly Yarn plastic sand in her kitchen.

Why is this woman baking? Kathleen explains:

I LOVE to bake so when it comes to crocheting there's no exception! I developed a unique way to block and flatten Jelly Yarn pieces. After I crocheted or knit my piece and before finishing, I heat the Jelly Yarn™. The heat softens the vinyl to a consistency of warm noodles, allowing me to mold and shape it. Now while it's softened, tape the piece to a flat surface, or any other shaped form, and place a weight on top. After a few hours, when the piece cools, I remove the weight and tape, and voila.

This blocking / shaping technique enhances your crochet or knit piece to explore creative possibilities.

You can also do this technique by immersing piece in a bowl of very hot water for 15 minutes.

In the interest of safety, Kathleen would like to add the following disclaimer:

This baking technique is intended for Jelly Yarn only. DO NOT heat fiber yarn. This technique is not intended for use by children. Do not bake Jelly Yarn at more than 150 (F) and 65 (C). Do not bake more then 15 minutes with ventilation.

Two of Kathleen's Jelly Yarn corals.

Jelly Yarn and the Crochet Coral Reef Project

I heard about the Crochet Coral Reef project and purchased Margaret's book, A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space, and studied the forms. Using the techniques from the book, I applied those methods in the creation of my own forms created from Jelly Yarn®. I created the pieces as conceptual designs after researching coral reef life. They are based on specific species of coral, anemone, and sea sponge indigenous to the Great Barrier Reef. Using translucent yarn colors for the coral and anemone, allowed for brilliant color hues. Some sea sponge and anemone forms glow from phosphorescent elements, therefore I crocheted them from glow-in-the-dark Jelly Yarn® to simulate the bioluminescent effect. One of my favorite designs for the reef project was to crochet "sand". Using brilliant Hot pink Candy and Ice Jelly Yarn I created blankets of crochet sand for the plastic reef.

A Jelly Yarn sea slug by Kathleen Greco.

When Using Jelly Yarn, Kathleen advises to Loosen Up! Here's her tips for using this unique yarn:

I have found that metal needles work best rather than wood, bamboo or plastic.

We have tested many products to help improve the glide of the stitches on metal needles - so that you can crochet or knit more easily with Jelly Yarn. Silicone works best, in the form of a vinyl protectant, like Vinylex™, which can easily be found at super markets. We include a Vinylex™ towelette packet with every purchase from our Jelly Yarn website. You can also use hand cream if needed!