Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Mended, Felted Flower Covered Plaid Blanket and Thoughts on Creativity

I'm still musing about where ideas come from. I am convinced that living in the world we do, many artists come up with the same or very similar ideas at the same time. There must be a term for this and I have no clue what it is. Maybe someone out there knows and can leave it in the comments. As a designer and artist, I know that I have a recognizable style. It is a style that I have developed over decades of making things, working with color and fibers and living my life. I have been influenced by artists, by friends, by museums, by current culture and antique culture. It is a conglomeration or perhaps I should call it a "stew" of ideas blending around in my head and life, making my work mine. I do not deem to be totally original on many of my projects. I pick up ideas all over and then translate them into my own work. You can't help it unless you live under a rock. Sometimes it is hard to remember where the spark of an idea comes from. (Do you know the NPR series, podcast, and book Spark, How Creativity Works? Check it out here.)

I purchased a green, gold, slate blue and navy wool plaid throw on our first trip to Scotland back in 1984. The label on it reads Trow Mill and I think I found it at one of the little touristy shops in the Scottish Borders. Hard to remember back then as that trip was so wonderful. We drove all through the Scottish Borders (named our next dog Kelso after the little Border town), the Highlands, and even to the Outer Hebrides. Fond memories but wish they had digital cameras back then because I don't have much of a visual reference.

I love this blanket - the lovely plaid design using complementary colors. It has been well-used over the years in several photo shoots (see it on page 63 of Melanie Falick's Knitting America) and it has been on countless hayrides. I guess it has lived a good life being toted around and warming up whoever is chilly. Such a well-lived life that last year, the blanket began to tear up from the fringes. We kept using it, me thinking about how to repair it. I couldn't let it go - just too much history and still so beautiful. 

A while back I was reading the British blog Pure Style and saw an old blanket that Jane Cumberbatch had sewn velvet ribbons on. I put that in my memory bank thinking it was such a pretty way to add new life to an old thing. And then in October, I started making my Felted Sunflowers and Zinnias by the dozen. I couldn't stop making them and kept going, finding ways to use them. My old Scottish blanket, in dire need of repair because it had some large rips in it that were going to destroy it came to mind. Remember this bag that I made for my friend Cathy? I still had some bright orange wool and all of a sudden I had one of those aha moments. 

Here's what I did - I ripped some inch and two inch pieces of wool from the orange wool. I pinned them over the long tears on the blanket and over the holes one of our puppies had added. With my sewing machine, I zigzagged them in place. 


Then I took some of my felted sunflowers and handsewed them onto the ends of the wool strips. It all looked a little bare because I only had 3 rips and 2 holes so I started adding strips of orange wool randomly. 


I still want to add some more orange stripes and felted sunflowers  but I have run out and will have to make some more. Someday..... I think our blanket is prettier than before and I surely have added another decade to its life. Now that I think about it, the idea for patching the blanket also came from the illustrations I did for the new "Mend It Better" book by Kristin Roach (one more day for the giveaway - see this post.)


See more ideas for my Sunflowers and Zinnias to Knit and Felt Pattern here, here, and here. The pattern is available for $6.00 by PDF Download on my website here or on Ravelry here. Or click the button below (you do not have to be a Ravelry member to purchase the pattern). (BTW, I make more money if you purchase directly through Ravelry vs. my own website. Their fulfillment fees are more reasonable than through the download service I use!)


Happy Leap Day everyone!

18 comments:

Margo said...

I love what you did with the blanket.

Lee said...

The blanket is lovely and so "Kristin!" I don't think we have to worry too much about originality. No one creates in a vacuum and part of the process is taking in inspiration in lots of forms and then creating things with our own unique spin.

mn_bird said...

The blanket is beautiful.

Here's a couple of ideas that I have about creativity.

Another hobby that I have is juggling. When you first teach someone how to juggle three balls in a cascade pattern, the first trick that almost everyone "invents" is throwing one ball up the middle, than the two balls to the side and repeating that. It's a natural progression.

One interesting thing about jugglers is that most of them will master a new trick and immediately try to figure out a way to make it more challenging, harder, or different in some way.

To me, it's an interesting comparison because there are still many, many knitters who want to exactly replicate a project by following the exact instructions, using the same colors and so on. I think this is changing a bit. There's a lot of good information

In addition, I garden in a community garden with around 200 plots. Most of these are 20 feet by 20 feet. It's fun to see the differences in how people use their space as they create their own garden. We all have the same amount of space in roughly the same shape. There's also a lot of overlap in what's being grown, but each garden turns out so differently. I see it as the act to creating, but in a different way.

By the way after attending one of your farm classes and seeing your garden, I grow amaranth now and really, really enjoy it. It's so beautiful!

stufenzumgericht said...

The blanket really looks wonderful with your felted sunflowers. This is the spirit of patchwork, too, creating with "old stuff" something "new" Martina

Pam said...

The blanket is beautiful, Kristen! Since I purchased your pattern a while back I have been absolutely addicted to making your felted flowers. I sewed them onto everything and I still have tons leftover because I can't stop knitting them. A few weeks ago I found that they stick like velcro to the bricks on my fireplace. So now I have a garden of flowers above my fireplace and everyone who comes into my house plays with them. It's like having an interactive art exhibit in my living room. Now I am wondering if the flowers will stick like velcro to my stucco house....

technikat said...

Your giving the blanket a new life reminds me of a story I heard once in elementary school that really stuck in my mind. It was about a little girl who was poor who was invited to a party. Her only dress was torn and she didn't have a party dress to wear. Her mom patched up her dress with colorful appliques. She went to the party and many girls wanted a dress just like hers.

It's wonderful what can be done with a creative approach.

Candylei said...

The first thing I saw in the last photograph was your puppy! Wow they've gotten so big!! The blanket is pretty and very cheery with your art on it!!!

Auntie Shan said...

Those Highland blankets really are durable aren't they? I've got a similar Throw in Rusty-Browns that I bought in Yorkshire in '76 on a school trip... Just down the road from where the Bronte Sisters grew up! Anyway, it's still in super condition - of course, neither has it "lived" quite the "life" as Yours! [Dust-Bunnies are way less destructive!]

BTW, are the backsides of those repairs still open, or did you cover them too? If you didn't patch the backs, why not cover them with a little needle-felting..? With the way the thread-stitching goes, I'd felt little "frames" [art or window ones] over them. Then, perhaps felt more little flowers inside the space? -- A lot of "work", I know, but it would be cool!

:-D

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

I love how you gave new life to the blanket - giving me some inspiration for a blanket of my own.

Jennifer and Steve said...

This is so beautiful! I love it! Hope you are enjoying the first signs of spring there too. :)

CrochetBlogger said...

Great article! I think what you're describing is just called synchronicity. At least that's what we call it in writing ...

Love the thoughts here as well as the photo shares!

Elaine said...

Yes!! This is what I was talking about when I posted a comment last time about mending. I put different color patches on my handwoven items when they are new just to make them more interesting.
There is a shop in Brooklyn (Sri) that carries all things Japanese. Most of his cloth pieces are quite old and have been patched innumerable times--almost also indigo dyed. Thanks for the lovely full picture of your blanket. It looks more loved now!!

sheepyhollow said...

Oh ya... the wool blanket is sooooo YOU! I love it! How could anyone throw away a woolie blanket? ;)

Amanda said...

The term that comes to mind is synchronicity (and the collective mind theory combined with Jungs' collective unconscious). Life is not just a series of random events/circumstances but there is a deeper pattern at work (now we're getting to knitting), connecting and giving meaning to these "coincidences". And it is my understanding that Jung meant this to be applied to the internal life as well as the external life.

Jerseygirl65(ravelry) said...

Hi Kristin,

I agree with your comments about the "mind stew" and absorbing all that surrounds us resulting in an individual interpretation of the what I call "sensory overload". For you, your photography is a unique and creative look at the world, one frame at a time, taking that moment, that scene and recording it forever. Thanks for sharing.

The blanket is so clever, I have patched a few things for myself with some eh, similar but not ideas. Lets just say mine remain in house while yours are fit the public eye!

Beth Brown-Reinsel said...

Hi Kristin!
I remember submitting a design to Classic Elite years ago and I was told that the reason it was rejected was that TWO other designers had submitted designs with the same complex cable at that time! I think "synchronicity" would be a good term for mutual creativity. I agree that it happens all the time. A good example is the "Latvian Braid" seen on so many Latvian mittens. It is actually a Swedish Two-end Knitting technique. Two different cultures came up with the same idea! Thanks for your blog. Your treatment of your Scottish blanket is terrific!

Beth

Patti said...

You inspire so many of us, and once again, you've given me some great possibilities for being creative. I was just walking my dog, glanced down, and saw one of my wool felted clogs had a hole at the toe and some creases had worn through. Well, your Scottish blanket instantly came to mind! Then, I remembered a pair of clogs I saw at a great store in London, V.V. Rouleaux. The combination of crewel work, ribbons and felted flowers will be amazing on these old clogs! Maybe once I have used up all the Julia yarn I bought I'll decorate them!
Love your honesty about farming, and your color work.

phaedra96 said...

Genius!!