You might ask what a photo-shopped picture of a cardoon has to do with my brain. The answer, of course, is everything.
This cardoon, which grows every year in my garden, and beckons me with its marvellous structure and form, is analogous to what compels me to create new knit pieces. It is just so darned beautiful. So amazing. So perfect. And with a few adjustments the picture becomes a piece of art instead of an accurate record of a plant.
Every time I pick up a hank of yarn I begin to see form and texture and the possibility of perfection. The options are endless. Change the direction the yarn travels and you have a new stitch. Change how the stitches are combined and you have a new pattern. Decide on a colour and you have a statement of fashion and purpose. Knit outside the rules, and you have art.
Anyone who lives with a knitter knows the symptoms of getting lost in the yarn. The eyes glaze over, ever so slightly, a smile reaches the lips and the fingers work over the surface of the wool, imagining where it will travel. And before the last project is even finished, another is begun. There are always many projects on the go at once, boredom never an issue. New challenges, new frontiers. Eventually there will be a project involving strange fibers. In fact, anything that resembles string is fair game.
It all began with a spool of annealed wire from Home Depot. I had it in my brain that I wanted to make random wrapped balls of wire. I made small ones to add to a bracelet I was making at the time. Then I made a big one, shown on the right. That led me to finally try felting a bowl to hold the wire ball. It had been on my bucket list for a long time, and the rest is history.
But moving on, I wondered why I couldn't knit with the wire... hard on the fingers, to be sure, but possible? I bought some finer softer copper wire, and I was off and running. Who would have thought it was possible to knit with wire? It was, and I even liked the result until my mother-in-law told me it looked like a pot-scrubber! Minor detail. I would choose a different wire next time...
I discovered a whole new group of knitters who make knitted wire jewellery and other wonderful creations. Headed out to buy some more wire for another project.
But at the hardware store, I accidentally wandered down the rope aisle. Rope! I could knit with rope! I had no idea there were so many sizes and colours and kinds of rope. The fellow working the aisle finally gave up trying to help, and wandered off, muttering. I was paralyzed with the possibilities. Finally, bowing to the impossible logistics of wrapping giant rope around my needles, I settled on a wonderful rough sisal. The yardage was ample, the price was fair, and it seemed like a good place to start.
I decided to teach myself how to crochet on this project. The anatomy of the stitch seemed perfect, and I could achieve the straight sides I wanted, impossible with knitting. It was surprisingly simple, and as the basket started to take shape I grinned like a new mother, proud of my creation. But it needed something to finish it off. I remembered an old piece of metallic bronze fabric I had stashed away. I could cut it into strips and work it into the border! Perfect. Just what I had in mind. No matter that someone in a foreign country could make this for ten cents. I had made my own basket!
And there, you have it. Round and round in a crazy logic, I have moved from cardoons to sisal baskets. I makes sense to me. It is truly how my brain works, most of the time.
Oh, right. Cardoon. With all the rain, it has been growing to dizzying heights. I had better get out to the garden to tie it to a stake. Hmmm, I wonder if I can knit something with the green twine.......
Diane Zwickel lives and knits in South Surrey, B.C. Canada