Sunday, 8 June 2014

Story telling with sticks and string - Knitographical

I showed you pretty pictures of the finished Knitographical cowl in a previous post but teased you that the story behind the knitting would be forthcoming. Here it is, My Knitographical cowl is the story of me told using sticks and string.

1. Tea Cup
Sometimes I swear my body is fuelled by tea. I can be found with a fresh cup in my hand at almost any time of day, In the morning two or three cups are my kick-starter – Irish Breakfast by preference, After a intense session of teaching, tea helps me refuel. A weekend indulgence is a steaming cup of some exotic tea blend and a good book. It has to be black (and I’m trying to give up the sugar)… There may be tea involved as I'm writing this.
2. Canal Houses
My family heritage is Dutch (on both sides). My father grew up in Amsterdam through its occupation years in the second World War. My Opa told us stories of smuggling and the black market and helping hide his Jewish workers from the Germans, These canal houses remind me of the pictures I’ve seen of the house my father spent his early years in. Tall and thin with doors in the upper story opening out onto bare air.
3. Tardis
I’m a long term Doctor Who fan. Peter Davison (or Celery Doctor as my kids affectionately refer to him) is the Doctor of my childhood memories. We started watching Dr Who as a family at the beginning of the new reboot with the 9th doctor and it's a must watch family TV date whenever it's on. (Lazy Sundays on the couch in our PJs watching Doctor Who and eating brunch).
4. Knit
It’s what I do. Knitting is my meditation; my escape from stressful times. The soothing clink of needles and yarn creating things makes tensions and annoyances unwind into the growing object. 
But rather than these being unhappy memories, the knitted garment becomes almost like a pair of rose-coloured glasses letting me see the events with distance, perspective and insight. Knitted garments are warm and fuzzy objects in more ways than one.
5. Falling leaves
I love knitted leaves, colourwork ones like these or cabled and lace leaves. I loved this pattern when I first made it as a hat and it’s here as a reminder.
I knit on trains - a lot. It makes a 2 hour journey to Melbourne productive and I can still talk to people. This year, I made a psychological major leap forward and bought my knitting out of the closet so to speak and will now knit on journeys in front of my work colleagues. The guys I work with found the fact that I knit colour-work on four needles in the round whilst having an academic conversation fascinating.
6. Sheep
All knitters love sheep. After all they supply us with the raw materials from which we make so much. Plus knitted sheep are cute. I so want to make a whole flock of little knitted stuffed sheep.
7. Circles
The ancient Greeks believed that the circle is the perfect form. Geometry is the branch of mathematics that most of my students find fascinating and don’t actually hate. The use of circular patterns and symmetry in Islamic art is amazing and inspiring. It’s impossible to knit a circular circle though or I’d try and replicate it in knitting.
8. Foxes
The fox – feral introduced pest or cute furry animal? I’m a fan of the fox – in its knitted form at least. I’ve made lots of foxes – from amigurumi graduation foxes to faux fox scarves and flat foxes to hang on walls. And there are still more to come. Thank you to my daughter’s friend Beth for introducing me to your teenage fox obsession and for inspiring the first toy fox I made.
9. Dalek
My son’s phone says ‘Exterminate’ in the authentic Dalek voice whenever he gets a text message or Facebook notification. It is my secret delight to get it to go off at highly inappropriate times especially in school masses, lectures or at some ungodly hour of the morning after a late night out. (See also Tardis (3)).
10. 70's Wallpaper
This wallpaper is a tribute to the wallpaper at my favourite Auntie’s house. The 1970s lived on in her wallpaper till well into the 90s. But it was my second home still – bad wallpaper and all.
11. Purl
The flipside of Knit (See also Knit (4)).
12. Squirrels
No one in my family can say it correctly despite quite a few having childhood speech therapy. Challenging someone to say squirrel is guaranteed to set off hysterical giggling (which just makes it harder to pronounce squirrel).
13. Selbu Modern
The pattern here owes its roots to Selbu – Traditional Norwegian usually black and white colourwork. I find it fascinating to research traditional knitting methods and incorporate them with a modern twist in my work.
14. Zig Zags
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I first saw knitting as art. It was when I first encountered the knitted work of Kaffe Fassett in about 1987. This piece of rainbow coloured zig zag is a recreation of a much loved teenage jumper knit to a Kaffe Fassett pattern that I unfortunately outgrew. Knitting the original made me brave enough to ‘paint’ with wool.
15. Circuit boards
When I left school, I worked as an electrical engineering assistant, I ruined a lot of circuit boards whilst learning how to solder properly. I never realised at the time just how important the humble circuit board would be to everyday life.
16. Something floral
The delicate tracery of bare branches is an illustration of the beauty of mathematical chaos. I find the appearance of fractals in nature fascinating. I love finding Fibonacci numbers in pineapples, sunflowers and that weird cauliflower / broccoli hybrid. This is a small tribute.
17. Ampersands
I love punctuation. I get to help students develop skills in scientific writing and we look at commas and semi colons and colons and where to use them appropriately. Ampersands are my favourite symbol, though I also love a tilde (~). I’m also inordinately fond of the entire Greek alphabet. (Must be a mathematician / statistician thing).
For more photos of the finished cowl - go here. Details of all the pattern and chart sources used for this can be found on my Ravelry Project page. They are from mainly free sources as is the original infinity scarf pattern. If you want to have a go at making one of these for yourself, I found socks, mittens and hats to be really good sources of patterns of the right size to incorporate into the scarf. Looks like I'm going to be making another one for my eldest daughter once she finishes describing her life in knitting charts....

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