Monday, September 20, 2010

Explorations in Reversible Cables

The matching Saxon Braid Cap and Scarf
Sometimes, my inspiration comes from playing around with a technique or an idea.  How can I change an existing stitch pattern to make it look the way I want it to?  I often spend a fair amount of time experimenting, trying different variations on a technique or a pattern before I am even half satisfied with the results.

This happened earlier this year, when I was knitting some cabled hats with the Saxon Braid cable pattern around the rim.  I wanted to make a scarf pattern to match the hat pattern I had designed, but I really, really dislike making scarves that are not presentable on both sides.  As most knitters are aware, most cable patterns look totally different on the back.  And the Saxon Braid pattern was no exception.

There is a technique for making reversible cables which do look the same on front and back--it involves working the cable over twice as many stitches, and working the cable stitches in a k1, p1 rib.  The cable is twisted in the normal manner (for example, a 4-stitch reversible cable is worked over 8 stitches, with four stitches crossed over 4).  When the fabric is knitted, the knit stitches pull to the front of the work, and the purls pull to the back, and you have a knitted cable on each side of the fabric.

A typical reversible cable utilizing k1p1 rib
I tried using this principle to knit the Saxon Braid cable, but it just didn't work.  The Saxon Braid is made up of six two-stitch columns that interweave across the braid panel, and I just couldn't figure out any way to easily do these crossings, some of which involve knit stitches crossing over purl stitches.  And the resulting fabric was quite unsatisfactory, anyway.

One day, as I was knitting a Saxon Braid Cap, I happened to notice something on the back of the fabric that piqued my interest.  An idea was born--and I soon found myself knitting a reversible scarf with the Saxon Braid pattern on one side, and a slightly different interlaced pattern on the other.  Woohoo!!

The Saxon Braid pattern is on the right; the interlaced pattern is on the left.
If you are curious about this technique, I have just published the Saxon Braid Reversible Scarf pattern.  It will be available in my Etsy shop, and on Ravelry!

I hope to soon have some of these scarves listed in my Etsy shop, as well.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Light and Shadow, Part 3

In this post, I will share some of my own creations in which I have explored light and shadow.  This first photo is a clutch type bag, in a light lavender with a lacy. black flap.  I like the contrast between the black lace and the pastel fabric behind it:

I really enjoy beading, when I get the time to do it.  This next item is a beaded needle case in peyote stitch, with a stained-glass-like diamond pattern on it.  The shiny beads seem to glow, just like a stained glass window!

And here's another beaded needle case.  On this one, I was trying to portray the luminous colors of an ocean sunset:

This tam was the result of my explorations of the Domino Knitting technique.  Its pattern utilizes two shades of gray:

This short-row tam from handspun yarn also has a stained-glass glow:

In another technique, here's a kumihimo braided necklace, with bright colors contrasted with black.  I love how the black makes the colors "pop"!

Highly textured items create light and shadow effects, as in this Saxon Braid Cap:

Some fibers have a reflective quality, like the handspun silk embroidery thread in this embroidered pincushion:

This knitted scarf mixes shiny metallic yarn with matte and furry yarns to create an interesting effect:

Here's another scarf, crocheted with shiny, furry novelty yarn and matte wool yarn:

And finally, a mini paperweight made of shiny colored glass encrusted with crochet:

Most of these items are listed in my Etsy shop, if you would like to see more pictures or find out more about them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Light and Shadow, Part 2

What would we do without light?  It is so basic to our way of life that I can't even imagine life without it.  Here are some more images that have inspired me--all have some relation to light and shadow.

This moth has a subtle pattern of light and dark brown on its wings:

This forest "tunnel" has a bright green meadow at the end of it:

This next "tunnel" is created by an arch of bright, sunlit leaves; can you see it?

Here is a mossy silhouette, framing the streambed beyond.  I see lots of texture here,as well!

Light cast obliquely on an object makes its texture show up dramatically.  The light and shadow on this tree's bark create interesting patterns:

These bejeweled flowers have varying shades of pink:

And, speaking of jewels, this cedar tree is encrusted with sparkling dew-diamonds, with the sun shining through them ( I am forever trying to capture the brightly-colored sparkles of dewdrops in photographs, and have thus far been highly unsuccessful;  does anyone have any tips for me?):

The different shades of green here are partly created by light and shadow, and partly by different pigments in the leaves of this evergreen shrub:

And finally, here are trees silhouetted against the luminous sunset sky:

Whether it is dark and light shades of the same color, or light shining through translucent substances like flower petals or colored glass, or the contrast of dark against light, I love the effects that light and shadow create.  In my next post, I hope to share some of my own creations using light and dark elements.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Light and Shadow, Part 1

I am still thinking about the things that inspire me.  Most of my inspiration seems to be visual--I see something and get an idea--a color combination, a shape or pattern, a texture, or just something beautiful that takes my breath away.

In addition to texture, I find myself greatly attracted to the interplay of light and shadow.  Whether it is dappled sunlight on a grassy lawn, creating lighter and darker shades of green, or translucent flower petals or leaves backlit by the sun, or the silhouette of trees against the sunset sky, I find the contrast of light and dark to be very satisfying.

Last year, I found these trees silhouetted against a backdrop of backlit ferns:

I love the way ordinary things glow when the sun hits them.  This is a front yard I photographed on one of our walks, spotlit by the sun.  Notice the mottled greens in the grass, and the bright green of the tree leaves:

How I love our walks on spring days!  Check out the translucent petals of these flowers against the blue of the sky!

Every Spring, I watch expectantly for our magnolia tree to bloom.  Whenever the sun touches these lovely flowers, it seems to make them light up as if they had votive candles inside.  They glow with vibrant color, and I love the gradation of the brighter pink at the base, shading up into lighter tints at the top!

What a difference lighting can make.  On a day trip to the beach, I captured the following four images within about an hour and a quarter.  The first is a storm over the ocean:

The next portrays the sunny beach, in between storms:

Then came another storm:

And finally, the sun set:

Four different light effects, within two hours on the same beach!!  Amazing, isn't it!

I have more images to share, but had better save them for Part 2.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Tendency Towards Texture, Part 3

Now that I have shared some of my inspiration, I'll show you some of my textured creations.  Can you see any ways in which the images that inspire me have affected the things I create?

Most knitted or crocheted items have an inherent texture to them.  But some techniques lend themselves to texture more than others.  Cables, for example, have a very blatant texture. 

Here is a Bavarian Twist Stitch cabled cap and fingerless gloves, with lots of texture:

Twined Knitting creates a fabric with wonderful texture:

This next photo shows a crocheted felted purse, with post stitch ridges creating the texture:

In this knitted vest, bobbles, lace, and textured patterns combine to create a highly textured fabric (note the leaves and flowers here!):

The open spaces contrasting against the solid areas in lace knitting or crocheted lace also create a kind of texture.  Here's a knitted example:

And here's an example of crocheted lace, in a bridal wristlet:

Sometimes, texture can be created just by using a fuzzy or textured yarn:

Even the lowly garter stitch creates a lovely ridged texture:

Ruffles can create beautiful texture, as well:

In beadwork, the texture may be produced by the contrast of matte and shiny beads:

And, finally, texture can be combined with color and shape, as in this freeform crochet wall hanging:

I hope you enjoyed the "tour" of some of my textured creations! If you want more information about them, some of them are listed in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Tendency Towards Texture Part 2

Before I show some examples of my own explorations of texture, I have a few more inspiring textural images to share.  The first one is some kind of lichen (I think...?), that I found growing on a tree.  The tendrils remind me of some of the fuzzier yarns I have seen.

This next photo shows a decaying tree stump, with cracks and smooth, patterned depressions (carved out by some sort of bug...?).  It fascinated me.

I see texture in clusters of flowers, too.  Here is an example:

I enjoy the pebbles on the beach, or even just in a neighbor's yard.  I'm not sure if I'm more drawn to the texture or the color here!

Speaking of the beach, I found these shiny bubbles contrasted against the coarse, dark sand:

 And here is foam on the water, reminding me of a damask tablecloth:

Here is more texture on water--isn't it beautiful?

And of course, I must include some pictures of the ubiquitious glowing leaves--see the different sizes and shapes?

Of course, leaves don't have to glow to get my attention:

Even in the winter, they can distract me from my walk:

By now, I'm sure you thoroughly pity anyone who has ever had the unpleasant and tedious duty of taking me for a walk.  Kudos to my youngest, who has borne the brunt of the burden for a number of years, now, with patience and grace!