Meet Sam, The Man Whose Sweaters Match His Surroundings

Finally, some wholesome content.

We all know how bad the vibe can get if you spend longer than about 20 seconds scrolling through Instagram. But among the weeds of narcissism and negativity, a bright bed of positivity doth bloom. His name is Sam Barksy, and for the past 20 years, he’s been knitting sweaters of recognisable landmarks and landscapes and then wearing them there. How do we know he wears them there? Because he has made an Instagram account dedicated to photos of him matching his creations to his surroundings. And once you see it, your great big grin will match his.

Each sweater takes Sam ‘about a month’ to knit, and he designs and knits them all freehand. Over the last few years, he’s garnered a following of delighted (and delightful) online fans as he documents his travels—so much so that he’s reached celebrity status at some locations. So far, his sweaters have taken him everywhere from the Grand Canal to the Grand Canyon, turning what was first a happy little accident into one of the most pure forms of art I’ve ever seen. Need your faith in humanity restored? Here, meet Sam.

Hey Sam! Firstly, when and how did you come up with the idea to knit sweaters and then take photos of yourself in them?

It was pretty much an accident. One day I looked at my photo collection and I realised I had about 10-15 pictures wearing some of my sweaters in front of whatever was depicted on them. I thought, ‘Wow, this is a form of art of its own.’ From that moment on, I made an intentional effort to get pictures wearing my sweaters in front of the respective landmark or item, and I’ve been purposely knitting sweaters based on where I’ll be travelling to.

What was the first sweater you ever knitted?

The first sweater I knitted was solid colour. The first multi-coloured sweater I knitted was a map of the world, which was a pattern from Vogue Knitting. The first sweater I designed freehand depicts a river with a covered bridge and a waterwheel on the front and a waterfall on the back.

View this post on Instagram

Starting my 7th Instagram sweater cycle in which one sweater will be posted almost daily in the chronological order I made them. This was the first multicolored sweater I made before I started designing my own. It is the only sweater I made with a pattern, because after that, I started making sweaters without patterns, and I’ve been doing that ever since. And even though it is not my own design, I found the perfect place to take a picture while wearing it. #sambarsky #sambarskysweaters #sambarskyknitter #knit #knitting #art #sweater #imakemyclothes #imakemyownclothes #handmadewardrobe #memadewardrobe #mapoftheworld #globe #globesweater #vogueknittingpattern702 #vogueknitting702 #vogueknitting

A post shared by Sam Barsky (@sambarskyknitter) on

Where do you get your inspiration for the next landmark to knit?

Anything that crosses my eyes is a possible sweater. As for what is next, it often has to do with where I’ll be traveling to or what event is coming up next. If I have no such needs, I’ll just do any of my ideas I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.


Do other visitors or tourists ask for a photo with you when they see you in your matching getup?

Interestingly, this has happened to me on multiple occasions. For example, when I went to the Hollywood Sign, a tour bus arrived at the same moment. One of the tourists asked me, ‘Are you the one who knits the sweaters and poses at the landmarks?’ I said, ‘Yes, and I have some very good news for you. I’m about to take a picture in front of a landmark.’ The entire group then got in a picture with me.

Anywhere else?

When I came to the Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine, a gentleman approached me, apparently knowing who I am, and wanted a picture with me. I have no idea of his identity. But he got his before I got mine. More recently, in Tel Aviv, a lady approached me who recognized me and told me she follows me on Instagram. Turns out, we live only an hour apart, but we had to come overseas to meet. I ended up meeting several fans while in Tel Aviv who wanted pictures with me in front of the Tel Aviv skyline. In some places, the people who work there have recognised me and been aware of me from before, then been really excited that I have made sweaters of their landmarks.

What is your favourite sweater you’ve knitted so far, and why?

I don’t have a number one favourite. Out of this many, it is just impossible to determine which one is a favourite or even close to it. But I know I did a better job on some than others.

Ever knitted one that didn’t work out?

Quite often, I am unhappy with the outcome. Some are just hard to do. But I just accept them how they are.

Have you ever thought about opening an online store for your sweaters or taking commissions?

It is not practical to do so. It takes me a month to make one, and I don’t have the means of mass production. I get requests like this all the time and have to apologetically tell people I cannot do so. It is simply way more than a one man job. However, I now have a line of T-shirts coming out that are printed to resemble some of my sweaters. They are being released on this coming Sunday (November 10). About a dozen designs are coming out with the initial release, with more to follow soon. I am very excited about being able to offer something wearable. I’ve also been selling prints of them on other merchandise, including calendars, pillows, and coffee mugs.

Go ahead and follow Sam here. Best thing that’ll ever happen to your feed.

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