Finding Inspiration: Knitting Without Boundaries

I have talked before about bringing our lives into our knitting, and looking at things around us for inspiration. While I realize for some this may not be an intuitive process, with practice it becomes easier. When walking by a blooming Magnolia, for example. Do you notice it? Look at the texture or the blossoms and the beautiful pinks and creams of the blossoms (I am visualizing the saucer magnolia off the front of our house). What is it that catches my eye about this? Well, the blooms are large and the colors are so pretty. The blooms are waxy so the texture suggested is slick and smooth. See where I am going with this? How do I feel when I look at it? What are my senses suggesting to me? They suggest lemonade or other concoctions, on a wide veranda with wicker furniture and a cool breeze. They suggest air that is heavy with the perfume of spring.

This kind of process goes on in all of the arts. Museums, art galleries, architecture, public gardens, a walk in your neighborhood perhaps (even a stroll through a grocery store) can lead to interesting design dialog. Artists are constantly looking at the world and reinterpreting it in their work. For an interesting look at this very subject, you can check out the Easter Eggs that are sent to the White House for Easter. Granted, there were some that I did not care for as I felt they could have been a little better done. But it is interesting to see how artists took on the chore of representing their state in a decorated egg.

If you were to design a sweater around your state, how would you do that? I would begin by asking myself what I think of when I think about my home State. What comes to mind? What images are in your head, what memories do you have, what smells do you remember and what sounds do your hear? What do those memories feel like and what do they mean to you? Next I would also look at a little history of my State. What is the State known for, who are some important people from the State. Weigh what is most important to you to communicate. It may be a feeling, a place, and event, someone well known to the public, or someone well loved by you. All are valid design points.

For Indiana (my State) I would choose something fairly humble and utilitarian like a cardigan. There is a lot of agriculture in this state. My daddy grew up on a farm. Both of my parents came from families that were hard working and humble in origin. My mother’s father worked at Bendix, as did my dad’s father. Dad grew up on a farm, but grandpa purchased the farm to give his kids something to keep them out of trouble! There were lots of chores to do. My mom’s family came from Bourbon, Indiana, and Dad’s family was from Etna Green. Both very small communities.

So, my cardigan would be comfy, homey,  and not “up-town”. It would be probably in a cotton blend, like Rowan’s Wool Cotton, or one of the other wonderful blends that are out there. A texture, perhaps, like a basket-weave or some other texture that makes me think of Indiana.

I of course could focus on the Indiana 500 if I chose, and that would be equally valid. Or, maybe I wanted to focus on other things that are found in Indianapolis. Fort Benjamin Harris is in Indianapolis (well, very close to it). I could focus on a little history about Benjamin Harris if I wanted to. For me the most powerful imagery centers around my family. Catching fireflies at night with the insects singing in the background. Spring and summer nights. Summer and county fairs. Family picnics and gatherings. For me, it all revolves around my family and the memories I have of them, year round. It is all about home.

What would you choose for your state?

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


5 Responses to “Finding Inspiration: Knitting Without Boundaries”

  1. Chris Says:

    My state, why, it’s Indiana too. I was thinking of something in cream/yellow (for corn adn wheat) with texture at the bottom to represent the hilly topography we have in the lower third of the state. Then going into flat to represent the middle portion, farmland for corn and wheat. Then finishing off in a blue color to represent the Great Lakes bordering our state. Neat to see how we “see” out state in different sweaters. Of course I could use blue at the bottom to represent the Ohio River too.

  2. Elle Kasey Says:

    What an insightful post. Deep thoughts for a Monday. If I made a Virginia sweater I think it would need a coded shout out to the eight presidents born in VA. Our flower is the Dogwood and it has lovely blooms so maybe some nobby petal patterns. We also have farms, mountains, rivers and the ocean so maybe I’d embellish it with colorful embroidery. The really fun part would be finding a way to represent the legendary traffic in Northern Virginia.

  3. jolenetreace Says:

    VBG. Fun, isn’t it? You can go lots of different ways. And such good ideas!

  4. jolenetreace Says:

    Or, you could combine color and texture through the whole thing, Chris, with the same types of proportions in your motifs. Could be very interesting indeed either way. It is neat, seeing how we all look at things. I am hoping some others weigh in with what they would do for their own states as it would make for a very interesting discussion

  5. Genuine" Says:

    I love the way you think. I’m originally from NY, but have grown up in WV. WV? The coal country, the mountain state, state that split from Virginia. First: practical, in natural colors—but with this twist, a kind of ‘primitive’ sensibility of colors that would be geometric type designs in bright, clear colors. Intarsia. Or something, perhaps, tactile, in chunky weight yarn, but no cables. I don’t know why, but definitely no cables.

    Well, you’ve sure gotten me thinking, and the only ‘designing’ that I’ve done is making a plain old stockinette sock and knitting it however I wanted to fit my foot, and that doesn’t even count! Thanks for a thought provoking post.

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