Andrea's Snoqualmie Cardigan
I came to knitting relatively late in life—my early to mid-30s—but I have been obsessed ever since. I love so many forms of making—I throw pottery, sew quilts and clothes, embroider, make candles, work with fused glass, mosaic—just to name a few. And I also love anything else that involves working with my hands and making something beautiful—gardening, flower arranging, canning, jams and jellies, baking. But knitting is my passion and my obsession. Since I started, I cannot remember a single day when I have not knit at least a few rows (and usually a lot more!)
Andrea's colorful hand-thrown pottery
For inspiration, my first true love is color. I love color everywhere I see it—in the garden, in fabric, in nature. It makes my hands itch to touch, and my mind itch to brainstorm how to combine, compare, and contrast. So many beautiful colors, so little time! Some days I’m in love with cool blues—other days, it’s warm, passionate deep pinks and fuschias. Still other days, I can’t get enough of calm neutrals, or the perfect black, or a white that’s not completely white, but almost white—just the perfect shade of white. Over time, I’ve learned that my particular color passion is tonal colors. More than a skein that’s clearly committed to one color and one shade, without variation—more than crazy-quilts of color combinations all in one skein—I love the tonal colors. The subtlety of playing with shades of the same color, not too different so that it grates on your eyes, but different enough that it captures your attention. These are the colors that I just can’t pass up. Stunning examples of tonal color—oftentimes achieved with natural dyes—include Camellia Fiber Company, Lakes Yarn & Fiber, Sweet Fiber Yarns, and YOTH.
Beautiful colors in flowers grown in Andrea's garden
More recently, my knitting inspiration has come from a desire to honor other makers –
specifically, those brave and hardy souls who are helping locally grown and spun yarns make a comeback in this country. I was first introduced to this concept by Brooklyn Tweed and Quince & Co, and then delved deeply into it when I discovered Tolt Yarn & Wool shop’s “farm to needle” philosophy. I love to support American and Canadian-yarns that are locally grown, spun, and dyed. I love minimally processed yarns that feel “sheepy” to me and leave a bit of lanolin on my hands. At first, I thought they would be too itchy, but I learned the magic of soaking my finished projects and how the fiber bloomed as it dried. Soft yarn is nice, but I love yarn with crunch, with personality, with the wherewithal to hold a stitch and show off some texture. I’ve found wonderful examples of locally grown and milled yarns from Local Color Fiber Studio, Hinterland Farms, Clara Yarns, Cestari, and Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co.
To me, the textures of the yarn, the colors of the dye, and the path it took to arrive in my hands all inspire me. I have found over the years that knitting is a form of mediation for me, because it focuses on the process – the journey – not the end result. In this way, it is very much like the practice of yoga. This has been especially important for me because I am NOT about the process! I am very focused on the final project: it is my primary reason for knitting. To date, I have almost 500 projects up on Ravelry, including around 120 sweaters! But I find that knitting forces me out of my comfort zone of focus on the end result, and gently nudges me to find joy in the simplicity and peace of the process. The wonder of knitting is that it is functional art – both process and product. This is probably why I love knitting sweaters so much – their construction and their texture (especially cables!) is such a work of art, yet when it’s all said and done, you have that most functional of pieces – a piece of clothing to wear.
Thank you to Knit Purl for asking me to share a little bit of my knitting story. I feel blessed to have discovered knitting and to live in a time when the patterns and yarns available to me seem almost endless. My only frustration is the limitation of time – there are never enough knitting hours in the day, and never enough time to finish up my current project before a new one comes along and tries to seduce me!
Color inspiration from Andrea's trip to the Oregon Coast
To see more of Andrea's work, visit her blog at: http://www.blueberryhillcrafting.com/