Thursday, March 06, 2008

Inspiration.

Some of you were curious as to where I get ideas. Really, the problem is not ideas; I see knitting patterns and ideas EVERYWHERE. The problem is finding the time to knit them all. (I'm hoping to get the yarn biz going well enough that I can start hiring test knitters to produce some of these ideas, and then sell the patterns.) My brain works in a very visual way; maps and charts and pictures are my friends. Those weirdos who can look at a pattern and identify where it came from? I'm one of them. To give you an idea, while I was flipping through photos on line, looking for a photo of the Blue Mosque for this post, I spotted a photo and thought "That's not the Blue Mosque, that's the Allhambra, in Spain." It's rather spooky, even to me.

So, a smorgasboard of stuff I've been meaning to knit for years.


Celadon porcelain has always been one of my favorites, though other forms of Chinese ceramics are also tempting. I'd use a subtle gray-green yarn and knit a yoke sweater, with some subtle texture around the neck to imitate the way the clay was carved before the glaze was put on. I've got a folder on my computer called "celadon" that I copy photos to, when I run across things I like. Of course there are dozens of other types of pottery from all over the world that would translate wonderfully into knitwear.



There's a folder in my office of stuff I've torn out of magazines that I think would make cool sweaters; the latest is a couple of advertisements for scandinavian carpets, torn out of an Architectural Digest while I was in Florida.







Of course there are all the historic sources, such as the ones I produced yesterday. Another idea lurking in the back of my mind is to create a drapey kimono-style jacket based on the "Frieze of Archers" originally in the palace of Darius, king of Persians, at Susa. I've got several pictures of these guys laying around the house, waiting for the day I get off my ass and knit this. I'm thinking linen for drape, and otherwise sticking as close as possible to the designs and cut of what they're wearing. I'd like to do something similar with Minoan palace frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, and Japanese and Chinese scroll paintings, Russian icons, and illuminated manuscripts.


Then there's antique clothing of all types. I could go on for days about that. But one of my favorites is Mario Fortuny, the maker of the famous (well, in clothing history circles) delphos gowns of the early 1900s. While the gowns were certainly cool, it's the jackets he made to go over them that really fascinate me. The one at the left is stenciled velvet; I once got as far as knitting a gauge swatch with cotton chenille for the velvet and gold rayon for the gold paint... all I figured out was that I hate chenille yarn. Then there are the other great clothes of history - Worth, Charles I's execution undershirt, bronze age string skirts, and ethnic textiles from all over.


When I was in college in 2005, I spotted a photo of the Blue Mosque of Istanbul in my World Religions textbook. I turned the book sideways (earning an odd look from the prof, who later demanded an explanation, which got another odd look), and yup, there it was - Fair Isle patterns. I've got this one about half charted, and think a nice, crisp cotton would be better than wool in this case. (This tile photo is off the 'net, and I'm not sure where it's from - but it gives you an idea of the photo out of my textbook.)




And then there are ancient maps. Done in intarsia, in all colors, and felted. Cut like an old-fashioned frock coat. With sea monsters needle-felted onto the oceans where appropriate. And a dragon or two.







You see where this is going. I could go on for days. Art, textiles, history, you name it. I want to knit everything. Would anyone be interested in test knitting? And if so, how much would you charge? (I'd provide the yarn.)

All images copyright the human race, all rights reserved. 20,000 BCE - 2008 CE.

12 comments:

Sarah said...

I would love to test knit, let me finish my sister's shawl and I'll be happy to help. Charge? I'm not sure how much is right so we could always discuss this. I was actually wondering how someone gets into test knitting for money, so this could be a learning curve for both of us.

Barbara said...

You amaze me. Reading your post I could visualize each piece of knitting, but I never would have come up with it myself. Not in a million years. I'm crazy for maps myself, that part alone has me gasping. I'm a very new knitter about to embark on my first stranded colorwork (besides I'm slow at it) so I can't be a test knitter but I'll be fascinated to see the results.

Oh, I love the curly lambs wool carving and wondered how you would translate that into wool.

Alwen said...

Speaking of inspiration, I thought of you last night at the library, where they had a copy of Kaffe Fassett at the V and A: Knitting and Needlepoint .

Bookfinder.com pulls up copies in the UK around the $25 mark, very decent for a 20-year-old knitting book (said the book enabler).

Amy Lane said...

I'm as impressed by your record keeping as I am by your imagination... I've had similar 'creative epiphanies' in knitting and crocheting (not quite so inspired or gorgeous) and after dwelling on them and planning them and never getting to them...they just go away. (I think it's that I use that brain-pan time doing the fiction thing...so much brain activity, so little time...but then, I know you know how that goes!)

Beautiful projects...I look forward to seeing them.

Paige Darling said...

I will test knit for cheap...but I would have to be done by mid-September unless you want to start paying international shipping.

(Booknutty on ravelry)

catnurse said...

I'd love to test knit any time. I get to knit at work, so I have a fair amount to time for it (except in Nov and Dec, I work in a toy store. I'm an "intermediate knitter", but I love learning new techniques.

Anonymous said...

I would test knit! You know my fee. Boowahaha...At this point, though, I think I owe you a test pattern or two.

I love the Blue Mosque idea! It's gorgeous. I really liked the rug as well.

Trish

Rachel said...

I'd love to test-knit, except I a) suck at colorwork and b) would be slower than a snail with a hangover, yay school work taking up sixty hours a week ><. But if for some reason you ever need more people (although it looks like there are about a million willing volunteers here), I'd be up for it.

Donna Lee said...

You flat out amaze me. I am so thankful there are folks like you to think of and design the beautiful things that I can then knit. And I especially like seeing where the inspiration came from and watching the process.

ikkinlala said...

I don't have the skills to test knit, but I love your ideas!

roz said...

I'd be game to try test-knitting for you. I'm comfortable with Fair Isle and could use a kick in the rear when it comes to intarsia.

Not sure what to charge -- let' s talk.

ravinroscoe@hotmail.com

Louiz said...

I'd test knit if you want someone on international shipping rates....

And every time I see gothic cathedrals with all the fancy ornamentation, I get the urge to knit it somehow. I must have close to 200 pictures of different cathedrals and churches, but never done anything with it....