Sunday, March 18, 2012

Guts and glory

The quilt-inspired Log Cabin Afghan is nearing completion.

The closest I've been to mathematics since barely squeaking by trigonometry in high school, is knitting. (Music employs counting, not math.) Honestly, I love the geometry of knitted textiles, and discovering Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knits book in 1985 was mind-expanding (not that I made any of its lyrical, geometric patterns. At that point, with two small kids and multiple teaching jobs, I hadn't time to fact, I gave it up for nearly twenty years).

But the thing about a great knitting book is that you don't have to follow its instructions. You can enjoy its inspirational qualities--images, ideas, and designs that are springboards to future projects. During The Years of Knitting Withdrawal there was a lot of unconscious processing. I returned to my needles about twelve years ago with a stronger sense of color and design. Naturally I was thrilled when a review copy of KF's latest book, Knitting With the Color Guys:  Inspiration, Ideas, and Projects from the Kaffe Fassett Studio (co-authored with Brandon Mably, published by Sixth and Spring Books), recently appeared in the mail.

In the score of years between Glorious Knits and The Color Guys, Fassett and Mably produced a wealth of design books focused on decor, quilting, and needlepoint, as well as knitting. Throughout, though, there's been a consistent reiteration and incremental development of colorwork and geometric themes, most inspired by historic or classic patterns and/or decorative arts. Thus it was interesting to compare the bookends, as it were.

To cite only one example, a classic quilting pattern, "Tumbling Blocks," appears as a sweater design in Glorious Knits, while in The Color Guys it has been distilled into a rectangular "Trapezoidal Throw." It's about as close as you can come to painting in knitting, I think.

But once you start seeing artful geometry in knitting, it's everywhere. (What is it about textiles that makes us love their patterned repetitions?) My estimable friend Neuroknitter dropped by yesterday with a package of the world's greatest Girl Scout Cookies (chocolate thin mints, of course) and several examples of her stunning hand-dyed yarn in the form of socks and a clapotis shawl-in-process whose patterning depends on a rhythmically raveled stripe. What a treat!

1 comment:

  1. It's only fair to include a warning: Clapotis is addictive!
    Also, the log cabin is very beautiful.