A Little Inspiration for your Knitting

Blue Eyed Honey Eater

Blue Eyed Honey Eater

This picture is of a Blue Eyed Honey Eater that I took at our zoo, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo a number of years ago. I thought the colors were simply amazing and I had to take the picture.

When I take photographs of animals at the zoo, I often look at colorways that I would not always think of, and this is a perfect example. Pea green, Black, Creamy White, Royal Blue, and a Pale Turquoise Blue. If you look close in the shadows around the toe of the bird, you can see a touch of pink that I think is some reflected color form the rusty bracket holding his food dish.

I have a fairisle planned for this colorway, in Rauma Finnulgarn. Rauma is a good Norwegian yarn, and Finnulgarn is the only yarn I could find that had the right colors. You would not believe how many yarns I looked at in that weight to find the right color, and color for this design is critical. The colorway was an obvious choice because it is a distinguishing characteristic of this animal. It also has a prominent beak but I did not feel particularly inspired by that.

My cat, oddly enough, will not leave that yarn alone. Whenever it is out, every morning when I get up I find balls of it scattered about the house. She has learned not to hide it or desecrate it or she is banned from the room.

Gathering up the balls of yarn does get tiresome though so I do try and not to leave a colorway of it sitting out where it can tempt her.



This picture was taken of one of our Orangutans.  I happened to be at the right place at the right time and snapped this picture. Since it is behind glass I had the flash off. For those of you wanting to take pictures of animals at the zoo and they are behind glass, take the flash off and put your lens right up to the glass. The lens won’t “see” the glass then and you will get a better shot.

Orangutans tie knots in vines in the wild, and in the Tropical Rainforest’s exhibit they have some samples of knots they have tied. It made me think of Celtic Knot work, so of course for this design I came up with an Aran design.  A feminine one, befitting this lady of the Rain-forest.

The Natives in the areas where the Orangutans live call them “Man In The Woods”. If I were going to do a men’s sweater, which I was at one time outside of the book submission, I would call it Man In The Woods. It would make a great name for a design. This particular design could go also with color as inspiration, it would make a beautiful colorway as well. Yellows to oranges to Rust Reds. Then there are the leathery Browns.  Bring in some greens from the background foliage and it would be quite magnificent.

Or, if you wanted to focus on texture you could go with Mountain Goat from Mountain Colors. It has a bit of a hairy texture to it, and they have a number of interesting colorways: I liked Yellowstone, Harmony Woods, Juniper, Ladyslipper, Moose Creek and Red Willow. A distinguishing characteristic of this animal is it’s hair, so a handpaint yarn in a simple stitch pattern would also be a good choice.

She is quite beautiful, isn’t she?

As you may have picked up, when you are inspired by something there are a number of ways you can go from your inspiration to your finished item. In knitting, our design elements are our yarns and by extension the properties the yarn brings to the party in texture and color. We also have as design elements stitch patterns, and the lines that are created by the stitch patterns which impact how the design is viewed and how it feels to us as we view it (does it feel energetic, restful, sporty, playful, majestic, etc). Do the stitch patterns lead the eyes to certain parts of the body that are flattering or unflattering?  Do the parts of the design transition well from one area to the next? Is it an anomaly because it is supposed to be an anomaly?

For example, when I plan out a sweater, everything is a design element. I do mean everything. Right down to the ribbing. That is why you don’t see plain ribbing slapped on every sweater I do. If I put ribbing on a sweater, it is because ribbing is the best solution, in my mind, for that design for the edge of that garment. And then I don’t just slap ribbing on it. Yes it takes a little planning to have a transition from your ribbing to your pattern, but it looks so much better.

Later on when I have more swatches with stitch patterns with ribbing, I will have to scan them and post them so I can better illustrate what I am talking about.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


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