An experienced knitter with a professional background in marketing, Bonnie Burton has found her niche in lifelike knitted displays. She started several years ago with a knitted picnic scene aimed to catch shoppers’ eyes as they passed the large front window of Colorful Stitches – a LYS that Bonnie co-owns in Lennox, MA. Thanks to consumer shows and the Internet, it gained attention in the greater knitting community and beyond. Her work is so realistic, several people mistook the knitted sculptures for an actual buffet!
This year, Bonnie was asked to design an autumn scene for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. She knit up a whole pumpkin patch, complete with apples, corn, a field mouse and more. If you aren’t heading to Chicago this weekend, you’ll still have a chance to see the impressive display at Colorful Stitches from October 29 through Thanksgiving. You could also start knitting a pumpkin patch of your own.
The Harvest Pumpkin pattern includes instructions for three different pumpkins featured in Bonnie’s display. Each is knit in the round from the bottom up, but appearances can be greatly varied with an optional gathering technique, as well as through yarn and color choices. Bonnie used Peruvia, Peruvia Quick and Ultra Alpaca throughout her pumpkin patch.
Any interesting stories about your process?
One thing that became immediately apparent in knitting sculptures was the need for math. Knitting a flat circle in the round without it rippling was very important to the food exhibit. Pancakes, tops of cakes, lemon slices, pizza dough and most recently, the base of pumpkins and a bushel basket are all flat circles, like disks. Degrees of change in knitting to grow a circular pumpkin shape and then curve it back in, require math. Also, algebra helps to shape 3-D cylinders like fountains. Who would have thought I’d have to remember high school this many years later?
How did you decide on the yarn?
I choose yarn that best represents nature for most of my subjects and in the case of the pumpkins, Peruvia Quick and Peruvia both yielded wonderful heathered pumpkin and squash colors…very natural.
If you could knit/crochet something for anyone in the world it would be…?
I don’t feel skilled at knitting people, but would love to do that – life-sized sculptures of interesting people. Also, I’m still waiting for the President or First Lady to be a knitter. It would be fun to knit something for the White House.
What’s your favorite thing about knitting?
I love the flexibility of the yarn/fiber medium. For many decades, I knitted every type of fashion or accessory item, but the last few years I broke out and tried whole different executions using yarn. It has really opened my eyes up to other possibilities. I can actually create free form shapes and not depend on published patterns. That’s so freeing.