Design Discussion: Zambesi River

Zambesi RiverI have a project that has been on the back burner for some time. It is an idea for a book, and I have perhaps 30 different designs for handknitting. Fairisle, texture, lace. Men, Women, and Children.

All of the designs are inspired by animals at our local zoo, ranked in the top 10 zoo’s in the country and also an award winning world class children’s zoo. You won’t know the inspiration is a particular animal (see the discussion on Through the Woods Cardigan), although seeing a picture of the garment with a picture of the animal which inspired the design, well most of the time even husbands who don’t knit and are left brained can see it (ask me how I know).

Zambesi River is a design that I decided not to include in that collection, although I wanted to do a pattern with it. The woman in the picture is my mother. What is behind the design are Zebras. The Zambesi River is part of the natural habitat for the breed of Zebra at our zoo.

This animal is so strongly geometrical. How can you keep the stripes without being a stereotype? When dealing with a subject like this, figureing out how to keep it from being a cliche is no easy matter.

ZebraThe first thing I did was choose the yarn. I wanted it to have a little more of a rustic feel, yet still have an elegant drape. While I truly believe this would be beautiful in any yarn, for the initial garment I knew Marilyn King (Black Water Abbey Yarns) would have the perfect yarn in her new fingering weight yarn, 2/8 weight organic. It had the drape I wanted without being either over-processed or something like silk. This is, after all, an animal in the veldt. And, this is in a natural color, an organic yarn, and is not black and white (that would have been too strong a cliche).

Next, I picked a lace pattern that made me think of the Zebras as it is also strongly geometrically marked in stripes, and in the yarn it was knit with it has a a wonderful Safari feel. I love it. It has the garter stitch border done in a contrasting color using intarsia techniques, although if you do not do intarsia, you can do the whole thing in one color. The intarsia method gives it a little more sophistication, another layer of detail. And, the garter stitch though a humble stitch, is the perfect foil for the stitch pattern.

This one is carried by most of my vendors.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene

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2 Responses to “Design Discussion: Zambesi River”

  1. LaurieM Says:

    Sounds like a fun book. I look forward to seeing it. What is the name of the shawl you are discussing and why did it not make it into the book?

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    The book is tentatively titled “Inspired Knitting: From Monkey Island”. I think it will be great, I just need to get my rear in gear and submit it.

    The design that was not included is the above lace gaban. I really liked it and wanted to do it sooner, plus I already have a large number of designs for the book. It was so different from most of the other designs, too, that I felt it would be better to do as a pattern leaflet.

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