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What Inspires: Variations on a Theme

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 10.43.09 AM

Sometimes the best inspiration is one’s own past work. I had to get over the feeling that it’s cheating, because a good idea is worth further exploration.  It’s really exciting for me when I think of different ways to use an idea. I’ll explain what I mean with examples.

I designed Flower Child (upper left) a few years back. It was the cover of Norah Gaughan vol 4.  While the idea of using a curved ogee shaped cable was itself a variation of something I’d done before, this was the first time I added ribs and bobbles to help along the illusion of a flower.  After Flower Child, I found this motif becoming part of my designing vocabulary. I used a wider variation in a throw from Comfort Knitting & Crochet: Afghans and again in a hat for Vogue Knitting. This fall I used the motif from Flower Child in the yoke of Lowry (upper right).  In the same booklet, I found myself dropping the bobbles and doubling the cable line to make the yoke of Forster (bottom right). I used an expanded version of the same chart for my Dickson skirt (lower left).

ng4_flowerchild_lg ngv13_lowry_lgngv13_forster_D_lg ngv13_dickson_lg

Sometimes the theme to be varied has nothing to do with motif and is all about the construction.  Aeneas (on the left) is constructed with triangles for the fronts– a variation on all the work I’ve done with polygons.  All the pieces are seamed together after you’ve knit them. For Hume, I decided to use the same shapes, with minimal decoration and turn the whole thing upside down by working seamlessly from the top down.  I doubt I would have thought of using the triangular shaping in Hume, if Aeneas hadn’t come first.

ng9_aeneas_lg ngv13_hume_lg

I’ve been asked if I am ever afraid of running out of ideas.  Sure, sometimes I feel kind of stressed out and find myself at an artistic low point, but with just a little break I am usually back at it. The fact that I can build on my own past thought process makes the number of possible ideas seem limitless and that makes me happy.

Who can guess how I named all the the pieces in Norah Gaughan vol 13?  (MOM – you aren’t allowed to answer!  It will be too easy for you.)

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jamie #

    I’m guessing it’s who you read in college.

    August 29, 2013
  2. Not an answer, just “I LOVE it”!

    August 29, 2013
  3. All are names of science fiction authors.

    August 29, 2013
    • Yes – many of whom I met as a child. My dad illustrated science fiction and I was lucky enough to meet many authors at science fiction conventions and even at our house and theirs.

      August 29, 2013
      • PurrlGurrl #

        Lucky you!

        August 29, 2013
      • I know! I have some pretty cool autographs – like Issac Asimov’s…and I can honestly say that he introduced me to Rose’s lime juice (good for making a cocktail for a 10 year old girl).

        August 29, 2013
  4. Harlee Cole #

    So awesome Norah , I thought as much, great sci-finished authors. I just love all the looks, I am building up my skill tree enough to try one of your fantastic designs.

    August 29, 2013
    • You can do it! (Remember you LYS is a great resource for help).

      August 29, 2013
  5. I didn’t recognize them all, but some (Pohl, Gibson and Niven) were dead giveaways. And then there was Verne! I love Sci-Fi… I have read it since a child, when the things we take for granted now (space flight, personal computers) were just pipe dreams then..

    August 29, 2013
  6. I just found your beautiful shawl. But it is in chart form. I cannot seem to figure out charts. Do you have written instructions. I know that’s a lot to ask but this shawl is the perfect one that I have been looking for. It is made with Berrocco Inca Gold. I am hoping you can help me. Thanks Jodi.

    August 30, 2013
  7. Whoa, Norah. Asimov made you a cocktail. Color me green!

    PS. Thanks for the past work tip. Perfect timing.

    August 30, 2013
  8. ValCC #

    Awesome! How cool is that! So jealous…and can’t wait to tackle the new designs!

    August 31, 2013
  9. I so love that grey skirt.

    November 26, 2013
  10. clairelynn311 #

    I ditto Nicole’s remark. I wish I could buy that grey skirt….I am only a beginner knitter and cannot follow charts…

    I love to read ….. think that is marvelous you have these autographs. Cool!

    February 7, 2014
  11. stashdragon #

    Five months late to the party, but yes, I recognized them all as writers of science fiction. Love it!

    February 26, 2014

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