Sam Barsky

August 16, 2023

Sam Barsky is an American artist and knitter who is known for handcrafting knitted sweaters that depict landmarks and scenery.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am an artist from Baltimore. When I was in college, I was studying to be a nurse, but never finished. I had wanted to learn how to knit for a long time. Soon after dropping out of college, I met the owners of a yarn shop by chance and they taught me how to knit. A year and a half later, I was designing my own sweaters.

How did you become interested in knitting?
Throughout all the time I was in college, I often crossed paths with people who were knitting or crocheting. I had wanted to learn how to do so, but couldn’t find anyone to teach me. I tried to teach myself unsuccessfully, and I tried to sign up for courses and they all got canceled due to low enrollment. Within a few weeks after dropping out, I had a chance meeting with the owners of a yarn shop who offered to teach me for free under one condition, which was that I would buy their yarn.
Sam Barksy visiting Stonehenge with his matching Stonehenge Sweater.

What are some things that inspire you to make sweaters?

Anything that crosses my eyes is a possible sweater. I often choose what to do next based on some upcoming travels or events.

Is there any particular sweater that you have knitted that you feel a strong connection to?

Every sweater has a story behind it and a connection I feel to it. Some of these stories can be many pages long. Though I wear some more than others, I feel a strong connection to all of them.
Sam Barksy and his wife visiting Niagara Falls with his matching sweater.

You have knitted over 160+ sweaters, do you have a preferred method of storing and cataloging them?

I store them on shelves in the chronological order I made them. This way, I know where to find any given sweater at any moment I need it.

How did you come up with the idea to make replications of your sweaters as t-shirts?

In 2017, a Las Vegas based start-up called “Picture This Clothing” found me and introduced me to their company. After meeting me, they produced two T-shirt replicas of my castle sweater to show me what they could. Two years later, I returned to their studio where they photographed lots of my sweaters to be made available as T-shirts.
Before this company came along, I had looked into the possibility of producing T-shirts, but all the T-shirt companies I found before only offered T-shirts with a rectangular picture on a white background. Picture This Clothing makes T-shirts in which the entire shirt is covered with the design, and that’s what I was looking for. I also like that their shirts are high quality and made according to my ethical standards.


Sam Barsky and his wife in St. Louis wearing the “Gateway Arch” sweater.

What is your favorite thing about living on the East Coast?

The East Coast has some of the most beautiful, dense vegetation that changes color in the Fall. Everywhere you go are thick forests, and there are lots of nature trails everywhere with streams and lakes, lots of mountains nearby, and the ocean. And lots of major cities with a variety of cultures all within a short drive. Unlike most of the country where the terrain looks the same for a full day of driving and cities are farther apart.

How long does it typically take you to knit a full sweater from start to finish?

At least a month. Some of them that are harder take several months.

Sam Barksy wearing his “Inner Harbor” sweater in Baltimore.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I am currently working on a sweaters of the Fingerlakes in upstate New York. I also have unfinished works in progress of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Peabody Library.

Sam Barksy and his wife in Mailbu wearing the “El Matador Beach” sweater.

Do you have any travel plans for 2024?

Yes, I am in talks with someone about a trip to the Pacific Northwest. And I am planning on knitting a collection of sweaters of landmarks in that region for that trip and eventually taking pictures in front of those landmarks.

Interview conducted and edited by Sam Dybeck.