Thursday, June 29, 2006

Frida Kahlo-esque Bag for Knitscene

The first time I ever heard of Frida Kahlo was when my sister Lynn was pregnant with her first child. Lynn's husband was Mexican and when deciding on their child's name, they were going to name a daughter Frida after our grandmother and after the Mexican artist they both loved. Their baby was a boy and his name is Nicholas and he is now sixteen years old. Baby Number Two was going to be Diego (after Frida's famous husband) but ended up Francisco (he's eleven now).

My sister is always ahead of her time with trends. She's a make-up artist by trade but wishes she had more time to paint her wildly colored paintings. She works mostly in acrylics. Last summer when she and the boys were visiting, I tlet her loose with my oil paints and she created one of her signature bird paintings. We hope to see them here on the farm again this year. This winter, I taught her to embroider and she is decorating her jeans with fanciful, colorful stitches (that's a future post, I hope.)

As the years have passed since my first introduction to Frida Kahlo, I have seen her grow to be an icon. Her art has been shown again in museums. There was a wonderful biography called Frida by Hayden Herrara. Then the book became a motion picture with Salma Hayak as Frida. This too I enjoyed - great colors, great love story. Rent it if you haven't seen it. Directed by Julie Taymor, it is a visual delight. Much of the movie is about her long, out of the ordinary, marraige to the artist Diego Rivera.

A wonderful children's book is also part of our Frida collection. Entitled Frida, It brings Frida's tragic life, love of painting and passions right down into terms kids can understand. Published in Spanish and English, it is a must for parents who want to introduce their children to art. Here's a great link with an author interview - Frida's kids book interview. It is full of wonderful paintings reminsicent of Frida's own artwork.

And then shortly after the movie was released, the fashion world took Frida's style and made it theirs. She had a great sense of color and pattern and was often photographed in fashion magazines. She favored Mexican embroideries and traditional Mexican clothing. She was an important female artist when there weren't many. It's not hard to see why fashion people emulate her in their collections - she was beautiful, exotic and stylish.

She was also a very talented painter. Here's a painting that I found as a postcard by Frida of Dona Rosita Morillo. I, of course, was attracted by the hands knitting and the patterned background. I have the card above my computer. I aspire to paint that beautifully.

And so what does all this have to do with stitching? It's back to the Knitscene designer package, folks. Last winter, the editors of Knitscene sent a photo montage of Frida inspired styles. This was right down my alley, once again like the Fat Cat.

And so, I created a "Fiesta del Sol" felted bag. Here's the
link to download the pattern. It is knit in garter stitch so it goes very quickly. The handle was knit in two colors of wool. I did a little embroidery with some easy stitches. After I felted the bag, I
added a bunch of multi-colored pom-poms to the bottom and sides - the pom poms remind me of the flowers Frida used to wear in her hair. I made a multi-colored braid, attached pom poms and attached the bouncy tie to the center to close the bag. It's fun and easy. Although it is shown in Renaissance, my Julia would work beautifully too (it felts like a dream). It's a good project for summer knitting because it won't be too big and heavy to knit in hot weather.


Alicia P. said...

Love that. It's beautiful, Kristin.

Chef Messy said...

Oooh, cute bag! I've been looking for the new Knitscene but haven't had any luck around here just yet! Hopefully it will be on newstands soon!

I'm a big fan of Frida. I've always wished I could pull off that exotic spanish look! I'm finding a lot of funky Mexican artsty things are creeping into my decorating, which is fun.

Nik said...

I fell in love with Frida after seeing the movie. I immediately wanted to know more about her. I have the movie at home now. I think you've inspired my movie selection for this evening ;)

Annelis said...

I love Frida's passionate expressions. She's become famous in Europe after the movie came out. Here the "Bollywood" scene has influenced the demand for strong warm cheery colors in interior deco. Not so much the Mexican art. Thanks for the wonderful pattern.

Hilde C. said...

I "discovered" Frida's art in 1990-something, and fell instantly in love with her paintings. A few years later a museum in Oslo/Norway had an exibition with some of her pictures, and it was wonderful to get the opportunity to see some of her paintings. I have a picture of her on my wall, and just the other day I was looking at it, and her clothes, in deep red and a wonderful golden yellow. Beautiful colours, very inspiring. It was nice to read about her on your blog :-)

JaneBrocket said...


Just to let you know that I am enjoying your posts even though I don't always comment. This is a beauty - I love the pic of Frida knitting with her solid, imposing female presence.