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What Inspires: Variations on a Theme

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 thoughts on “What Inspires: Variations on a Theme

    1. 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.

      1. 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).

  1. 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.

  2. 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..

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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