This afternoon DB was using my computer to work on some photos for his (and his friends’) birthday party invitations.  Since I was back and forth to help, and kind of hanging around upstairs in the office, I decided to have a look through my old Vogue Knitting mags to find the official names for 2 items in my FO list on Ravelry so I could connect them to the official pattern list.

I flipped through about 7 magazines before I found them.  This one is from Spring/Summer ’98 and it’s still one of my all time favorite knitted things to wear:

And this one from Spring/Summer 1991, which is now a little too small for me and I’m tempted to knit it again just a touch longer and maybe with lighter weight yarn:

The thing that I found interesting in this little exercise was how many of those “old” patterns I still really like and would still like to make.  For example, in that same Spring/Summer 1991 is a pattern for Allover Leaf-Rib Pullover by Adrienne Vittadini.


photo by spinsterrowe from Flickr
photo by spinsterrowe from Flickr

Also, browsing through these magazines reminded me of what I said to Andy last Monday night – “There is nothing new under the sun.”  It is very rare to find a completely new stitch pattern, or a completely new way to put knitting stitches together to create something totally unique.  We were talking about designing and how I want to spend 2010 working only on items that I have designed myself.  But what is the definition of “design”?  How much of your work has to be “unique” in order for it to qualify as YOUR design and not a modified version of someone else’s?

This is a hot topic over on Ravelry, as you can imagine.  I’ve seen literally hundreds of designs on Ravelry, by designers, for sale, that are simply using two or three stitch patterns from Barbara Walker’s library of books and putting them together in an interesting way.  Or even just ONE stitch pattern from Barbara’s books, and make that into a sweater or other item.  Is that enough to qualify?

Looking back at these designs from Vogue Knitting from (gasp) 20 years ago (my earliest VK is from 1985) makes me realize once again that new fashion is just a modified version of old fashion.  If I hesitate to work on my own designs because I’m worried that I’m not unique enough, then I will never start because that is nearly impossible to achieve.  

I look to Nora Gaughan (Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature) and Nancy Marchant (the brioche stitch) for inspiration.  No, they did not invent knitting spirals, or the brioche stitch, but they have taken a subject and explored it farther than anyone else has done and have made unique designs and unique ways of thinking about those subjects in the process.

Now, while I finish the many projects lined up for the next 6 months or so, I’ll be busy preparing for my self designed projects to come soon.  Maybe I have to look at ALL those Vogue Knitting mags sitting on my shelves…….

3 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Jan May 4, 2009 / 03:45

    I have a question about the difficulty/accuracy of the Vogue pattern for the shell scalloped top. Could you comment? Thanks!!

  2. underdutchskies May 5, 2009 / 22:17

    Well, I made it about 15 years ago so I honestly don’t remember! I don’t remember it being especially difficult and I don’t remember anything annoying about it, so it must not be that bad. Did you check to see if there’s an errata page for it on Vogue Knitting’s site?

    It’s still a nice thing, even after all these years, so I advise to go for it!

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