a rock and a hard place

Posted on Posted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls


do these boulders excite you the way they excite me? sometimes people ask me where my ideas come from and i’m at a loss to answer. they come from everywhere; i can’t pinpoint one reference over another. i just react to certain things at certain times, collect all manner of visual images and then designs sort of emerge out of the chaos.

for instance, these boulders. the colors speak to me yes, but even more exciting is their scale in relation to everything around them—THAT will stay with me as i explore motifs for a shawl or ponder the impact on a single design element. or maybe i’ll be perusing a stitch dictionary and a cable will suddenly jar loose the image of them and the two will become forever married in my mind as something important to knit about (in fact, now that i’ve rotated my inner eye that way, they do appear rather cable like in their arrangement, don’t they? hmmm . . .)

anyway, during my recent trip i got out from behind my desk both literally and figuratively and rediscovered for a little while the joys of wandering the earth. i’ve brought back treasures to share, my dears; take a look.


almost as soon as we started walking along the lory state park trail, i began spotting rocks heavily armored with lichen of all types and colors. the light and my phone camera cooperated brilliantly with each other and i got  series of stunning photos


lichens are one of my favorite life forms; their creeping growth patterns and ethereal colorations just fascinate me; i find their ability to multiply in mixed company extremely interesting. they look soft and moldy but they are hard and brittle to the touch.


how is it that those soft greens tan ones are happily thriving in the exact same condition—nay, the same spots—as bright mustard and orange ones? the way they pile up and overlap each other, it’s a veritable orgy of fungal growth. don’t even get me started talking about what they really are—i could talk all day (and did you know you can make dye with them—i KNOW!). they are just so weird and wonderful; we should take a lesson from them!


just look at this hairy old goat of a lichen; i bet he’s got some stories to tell.


i really can’t believe my good luck in getting all of these shots from my little old iPhone camera; this hardly ever happens.


i don’t know where this particular series of images will lead, but for now i’m happy to just be excited by it.


i’ve got tons of these kinds of photos in my archives; i’m not really sure what i’m going to do with them or that i’ll ever “do” anything specifically with them, but one thing i can point to is the textural interest; i am all about that allover texture.


and right after all of that there was this—how cool is this stump? and how well it echoes some of the lichen forms, but is different, too.


and omg then there was this one—i love this even more. we are getting very close now to an actual connection with my current knitting.


one of the new tops that i’ve been working on has that same gritty look to it—in spite of its super organized appearance.


i cast on for the first sleeve just before leaving home so i’d have something to pull out and work on in odd places, like the airport waiting area. nothing about this knit is particularly chaotic the way the lichens are and certainly no dye is involved, but for some reason they are linked in my mind to those magnificently curly, gnarly life forms. and the sandy stump.


further along i saw these submerged rock ledges, holy cow. i don’t think  need to point our the obvious.


again i am working with our ginny sport yarn, this time in mississippi striped with georgia (oh man, do i love that brown, wow). i can also totally envision this in a single shade with just the textured lines for “striping”. for this version, i will use the lighter contrast color for the placket and collar—i like the loose placket look for summer, so no buttons for me, but you could add them if you like.


i found this inspiration photo after a long search online for something that put an image to the  memory i was drawing from; while not exactly the same construction, it definitely has the feel of what i was envisioning. i’m naming this top janet guthrie, after the first woman to qualify and compete in both the indianapolis 500 and the daytona 500—it just seems so in step with the period i’m summoning up.

i knit the sleeves and started the front piece during my trip—i even got to use the sleeves in a demo for my craftsy class. the top will be shown both sleeveless and with sleeves; this top is inspired by those fitted vintage sport tops you used to see all the time in the 60s and 70s.


yesterday i finished up the front in my spare time—a little in the morning over coffee and the rest while watching TV late last night. i wanted to get this piece done so i could block it and determine if my pattern needed any adjustments before sending it off to the tech editor for sizing. you can see that the striping causes it to be pretty crinkly right off the needles and i need my next measurements to be super accurate.


so, while i usually use steam blocking as my next step, this time i went for a full wet blocking to make sure it would relax to the size i really intended. wow, what a difference, eh?


much, much smoother after a nice soak relaxes that fiber.


and that ginny, wow—it is both cashmere-y soft and fuzzy, while being cottony smooth and cool. i don’t know how it does it, but it does.

i know that my inspirations are coming from a lot of different directions and none of them seem to connect, but there you have. for me, they all meet up in the design.


this pine cone looked so restful to me; i had to photograph it.


closer to the water, there were lots of clay rocks in various stages of breaking apart. apropos of nothing, this one reminded me of tuna sashimi.


nearby i found a little rock of clay that encased a small geode—kinda looks like the lichen a bit doesn’t it?


randomly i am am also attracted to this spidery skeleton of some sort of desert shrub. it doesn’t matter what it was, it’s the blackness and its wandering lines that i love.


more lines, more rocks, more lichens—this time in a different arrangement.


back home david has been busy tearing the last frontier of our house apart for renovation.


when i explore what’s behind the zipper, i find textures and lines that call back the images from my hikes last week—sweet.


this is the biggest room in our house and the dark, depressing wallpaper was pretty much holding up the plaster on the walls and ceiling (yes you heard right—wallpaper on the ceiling. yep, so ghetto. still cannot understand how matching and glueing wallpaper up on the ceiling is easier than fixing the ceiling).


behind the curtain, wallpaper is down, ceiling is down and things are already looking brighter in there.


we have not really discussed how this room is to look afterward, so i’m a bit concerned, but hopefully david isn’t going to just move forward without talking about it. but you never know, haha.


outside in the yarn, mother nature is doing a little redecorating herself—it’s been a little warmer in the last couple of days and suddenly we have tulips!


and daffodils!


and garlic!


plus some spinach that is still alive from last fall. i gotta hand it to this plant; it’s a trouper. i guess i’ve got to start thinking about the garden; must order seeds.

and with that, i think i will close. i’ll be back soon with updates on all those yummy knits; i should have lots more to share by the time you’re ready to hear from me again.

12 thoughts on “a rock and a hard place

  1. Tuna sashimi…too funny! Love the inspiration you found on your walk. That sweater is going to be fantastic. Another reno? You guys rock! We need to redo our bathroom and keep postponing it as we dread the chaos.

  2. Such a beautiful post! I have a set of “lichen” photos from a hike in the hills of Tennessee that I feel I must resurrect now! Looking forward to seeing the finished top, too; it’s time for some spring knitting!

  3. The nature photos are stunning! I was reminded of Alice Starmore’s description of how she looked to nature for Fair Isle color combinations. You are both brilliant designers!

  4. I love the colors of lichen so much and your photos really do them justice!

    I didn’t realize you still had remodeling to do…we’ve been working on an addition over the garage that the tree fell on over a year ago and it still isn’t done, so I can feel for you!

  5. I love that you said “something important to knit about.” The photos are gorgeous – boulders DO excite me!

  6. I share your love for lichen, Anne! I’ve also thought of trying to reflect it in knitting, but my thoughts went more in the direction of a felted fabric. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  7. Great photos! Love those lichen colors. . . . wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a summer knit tee-shirt in those colors?

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