Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Big Lilac Bag

I'm a pretty symetrical girl where my knitwear design is concerned. I know it has to do with the way knit stitches are lined up on a graph - you've just gotta follow that grid. For me, knitting in two colors and following a symetrical knitting chart is relaxing and almost (I'm saying almost here because I've still got to follow that chart and establish the motif with the two colors and the needles!) meditative. Most of my knitting charts are based on quadrants - I draw one quadrant on a piece of graph paper and then I flip it around 3 more times to create a symetrical knitting chart.

But in life, I'm nowhere near symetrical - I'm not at all easy to pin down to dates and appointments. I like to live on the edge, not knowing how things are going to turn out. And in my art - it's all about not knowing what's going to happen when I get out the brushes or camera. It's all so organic and loose and fun.

That's what I love about embroidering on knitwear. I can have a mental picture in my head of how a piece of stitchery is going to turn out. But then I take up the needle and the colored yarns and wow --- something else starts appearing before my very eyes. It is such a blast!

The other day I was out taking photos and I took this close-up of a bunch of lilacs. My goal was to capture the colors and the blooms and how they looked against the knitted, felted fabric below. When I got to the computer and actually started examining the images, I was struck by the construction of a lilac bloom. The total effect is breezy and voluptuous and smelling of springtime beauty. And then you look close at the make-up of the bloom and it's built of all these little symetrical four petaled flowers. But then nature puts them all together into a great big showy bloom in crazy abandon and they turn into a lilac. So glorious, those flowers are, aren't they?

Way back, a long time ago, Jillian and Amy asked me to do a "Big Girl Bag" for their More Big Girl Knits book. I have been anxiously awaiting the release of their new book. For me, the most satisfying part of doing a project for a book or a magazine is seeing the printed page with my knitwear on it. They wanted something bright and cheerful and big.

So here it is - my Big Girl Bag. I channeled Julia's favorite colors of pink and purple. These shades are a real departure for me. But I love the way the bag turned out. Knit in Julia, it was then felted in the washing machine. After the hot water worked its magic, I added lots of embroidered flowers in my favorite stitches of spider web, chain stitch, french knots and lazy daisies. After that was all over, I lined it in a light green gingham check.

And then lo and behold, the bag came back to me along with my copy of More Big Girl Knits just as my lilacs were blooming. I couldn't resist filling up the bag with a giant bunch of flowers and hanging it on a fencepost near our orchard.


Misstea said...

I know symmetry is important. But when I think of spring, I want to throw symmetry out the window... funny how it's there, I just don't see it. Thanks for pointing that out.

I just bought the first Big Girl Knits book the other day (I am late to the party, and enjoying that I am now the small). I see that I will have to get the second. And try my hand at embroidery. I used to be good at it.

Willow said...

That big girl bag is definitely in my colors and I love the green with it.

The embroidery is a great way to get out of the symmetry.

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I'm not a big girl by any stretch but I love big bags, and big color, and embroidery. Nice work.

The flowers in the bag? Brilliant. I'm sure that gave you a smile which lasted well past sundown.


Anonymous said...

It's beautiful, it's cheerful, it's very much lilac-y. Love it. And I think this felted piece with the embroidered flowers would make a lovely pillowcase for winter! :-)

Lily Boot said...

I so envy you your lilacs - I don't think I've ever seen them growing in Australia - they are so beautiful! The bag is gorgeous - I must try felting some knitting in the washing machine, it sounds such fun.

Kathleen C. said...

I just got that book a couple of days ago. Lots of great projects... and I loved your bag immediately!
The colors are awesome and the stitching too cute.
And I do have a thing for big felted bags!

Anonymous said...

Lovely, just lovely.

Kathy said...

Oh, I love that! It's charming. I knit made a felted bag -- perhaps I should take a dip into embellishing it. And so great to meet you last Saturday at Cummington!

Knitlee said...

Fantastic! Love the bag! I can picture it in autumn colors for the fall- would be wonderful to have it to fill up with goodies at Rhinebeck...hmmm must put on "to do" list.

Tora: said...

Just found your blog and your photographs are so beautiful I added you to my Favs!

So sad about Pat Chew, what an amazing woman she was. She will be sorely missed!

Tora in Chagrin Falls, Ohio

KSee said...

I'm a big girl and I love your bag. Then to have it come back home in time for the Lilacs! Stunning

Judy H in NC said...

Ok, please send bag to.....That is so beautiful and I love lilacs, so it is a double treat.