This is the first book I’ve written where I’ve gotten to include a few of my own illustrations. You’ll find these in the “A Knitted Peace” story. They are digital images. But I am hoping one day to include my hand-drawn sketches and illustrations in future books.
I started using sketching and doodling as part of my pre-writing process a few years ago, and it’s become a part of my knitting design process as well. I’m not just doing a sketch of what the project may look like, but an inspirational sketch, a mood board of sorts, that captures some of the feelings I have about the project, and the story that goes along with it.
These are the sketches I made while I was working on the designs of the three sock projects for Stories In Stitches 3. I made other drawings as well, that were more focused on where I wanted the stories to go, while these drawings are more focused on what the projects might become. The second set of drawings are much more emotionally raw, and because of the subject matter of Stories In Stitches 3, in some cases violently so. I may share them in a later post. I haven’t decided yet.
Hiroshima Peace Socks
I wanted my Japanese-inspired socks to say “peace” in so many more ways than just through the text knitted on the cuff. To me, the traditional Japanese aesthetic is full of peace and tranquility, and I wanted that to come through in the simplicity of the design. The contrast of this with the warrior culture of the Samurai and later the Kamikaze is not lost on me, but I don’t believe an entire people or nation should ever be painted with the negative traits of their warrior class. Sadly, however, the inherently violent nature of this group gives them power over their more peaceful compatriots.
The warrior class exists in the United States as well, and always has. In fact, it is not unreasonable to say that the United States is founded on a policy of violence. In politics we call these people hawks. Over the past few decades, a militaristic attitude has been growing in the United States, partly in response to the (imagined?) thread of terrorism, and partly because of the fear mongering of conservative political pundits, and partly for a thousand other reasons that are too complicated to discuss here. I hope we can find out way out of this violent mood and into a phase of peace and contentment before something very bad happens.
These socks represent my hopes for world peace.
Dancing Stitches Socks
My maternal grandmother’s family came to the United States 100 years ago from Belarus, then part of Russia.
If you haven’t heard of Belarus, you’re not alone. Those in the West who have heard of this country, roughly the size of Kansas, sandwiched between Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania, know it because of its starring role in the 2008 film Defiance starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, because the country received the brunt of the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, or because Belarus is known as the “last dictatorship” and the least free country in Europe.
If all you know about the country is a few tragic historical events or disturbing politics, you’re missing out on a wonderful history and tradition in textiles and needlework. Fortunately, even during the Soviet period, the expression of cultural identity through folk art, and especially through textiles created for national costumes and home accessories, was never prohibited, even when other forms of expression were discouraged and suppressed.
The saddest part, to me, however, is that even now the people of Belarus do not enjoy the freedoms that we do in the West. Now with the conflict in the Ukraine (where my paternal grandfather’s family hailed from), I feel this even more.
Flying Fish Knee High Socks
I don’t want to give away too much about these socks and I’ve already written about them in a previous post. You will learn more about my twofold inspiration for them in Stories In Stitches 3: a pair of socks made by a Jewish knitter in Belarus before the first World War, and the paintings of the Jewish-Belarusian artist, Marc Chagall. An amazing colorway from Blue Moon Fiber Arts allowed me to recreate my vision, in the fullness of Chagall’s bright colors and whimsical designs, in knitting.
See these sock patterns and read more about the stories behind them in Stories In Stitches 3. Available now for pre-order!