Monday, September 9, 2013

Vinland Backstory

Every winter, at the time when colour and light are precious, I inevitably end up browsing through one of my all-time favourite knitting books, "Poetry in Stitches", now sadly out of print. The lush photography of Scandinavian knits and winter countryside never fail to inspire. It was around this time of the year in 2012 that I designed my Trellis Vest. Last winter, I wanted a special hat and pair of  mitts. Clearly there's some connection between the dead of winter and my need to work colourful stranded knitting.
I'm also a fan of the art of William Morris, the artist and medievalist who influenced the Arts and Crafts movement and writers such as J.R.R. Tolkein. Looking out my window was all I needed to do to see reminders of his work.

Hydrangeas basking in the early morning November sunshine.

Crabapples lingering in the January snow.
My new hat and mitt set was inspired by Morris' work, not in imitation of it. I wanted to evoke the dense botanical look of his art, but in a simplified version,



and I wanted to create a rich texture on top of the colour pattern. The hat has a picot edge and Latvian braid, as well as little french knot "berries". The latter developed out of an experiment to incorporate the knots from my Buttonbox Waistcoat into a colourwork format. After the prototype you see above was knitted, I did some further tweaking of the design to give the hat a slightly more pillbox silhouette, as you can see in the final version.
The prototype mittens were knitted using colours from my stash.


Imagine my delight when the colours Kate chose for the magazine model echoed Morris's wallpaper design, "Seaweed".

From my copy of "William Morris, Artist, Craftsman, Pioneer", by Ormiston and Wells.
And where does the name of my design come from? Well, the reference to vines is obvious from the vines and berries pattern. But look closely, and you'll see there are waves too, especially in the hat. And there was a Scandinavian influence. So, add all three up, and what do you get? The land discovered by the Vikings along the east coast of Canada--Vinland! 

No comments:

Post a Comment