Thursday, 31 May 2012

Knitting design inspiration

I've been talking about designing my own knit garments for a while now. I got a design book for Christmas, but I haven't picked it up since an initial browse. I think I'm hesitant because I'm not sure how to start - I just haven't been feeling inspired.

Then last week I visited the Deep, Hull's spectacular aquarium. Or as they like to call it, submarium, perhaps because you go through so many levels of ocean life, it feels like you are in a submarine.

Image from Geograph ©Jonathan Fry 

The building is striking, and the collection of creatures even more so. I've visited quite a few aquariums (though not as many as I'd like to) and this was the most impressive collection I've seen anywhere. Also, I really appreciated the way they emphasised conservation - highlighting problems caused by pollution, global warming and overfishing.

I saw lots of things I've never seen in another aquarium, including flashlightfish (in a dark tank behind a curtain so you could see their bioluminescent eye patches), garden eels (poking their heads out of burrows in the sand), nautilus (which sleep during the day, so unfortunately I couldn't see all their crazy appendages), sawfish (which are critically endangered - the aquarium made sure to inform us they acquired them from another aquarium), and so many more.

Jellyfish, ray, tube worm, tiger shark - all images by The Deep

Walking through the wild display of shapes, colours and patterns, I started to have all kinds of knitting ideas. Maybe this is what I've been missing - knitting inspiration from concrete objects, or in this case, from fish!

For example, the simple jellyfish above could inspire a lace pattern on a sheer shawl. And I love the small bright blue spots on the brown ray - maybe a good colour combination for a hat?

But oddly enough, the most inspiring were the piranha. The aquarium didn't only focus on sea fish, and there was a whole section on the lowest level on the Amazon (including frogs, yay!). Piranha, despite their fierce reputation, are really quite beautiful. They have dark skin sprinkled liberally with bright silvery scales.

photo by cliff1066™ 

I started thinking of a high necked fitted bolero, knit in one of those sparkly yarns, something like Katia Galaxy.

Katia Galaxy

It would have a sawtooth pattern on the collar, sleeve cuffs and front closure bands, to suggest the piranha's teeth. Something like this:

Well, that bit was easy! But now I actually have to do all the work of finding the right yarn, swatching, planning it out, doing the math, and then knitting, frogging, and reknitting. When instead I could just go and buy Kirsten Johnstone's new summer cardigan pattern, Raiun.

© Tamara Erbacher

Ok, so it's not exactly the same, but I really love the elbow-length sleeve and the ribbing that angles down to the back. And it would be sooo much less work than designing my own!

But I'm slowly getting closer to designing my own pattern... and at least now I have some idea where to get ideas. And now I'm going to go start a Pinterest board of fish.