Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet Inga

IMG_7711, originally uploaded by myfinn.

Inga is my first attempt at fair isle knitting. Sure, there are some tension issues here and there, but the nice thing about this pattern is that the damask design is so intricate that it almost doesn't matter! I love it and I think that I am addicted to color knitting!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Meet "Taos", my first attempt at clasped weaving. I used some gorgeous handspun from Marion on etsy in a colorway that is more subtle than I am used to and really has a southwestern feel in this context.
In my wildest daydreams I escape my northern environs and flee for the desert. There I can weave in the open air on a Spanish-tiled terrace of a sprawling adobe hacienda with only the endless and breathtaking desert as my backdrop. Just like Georgia did.

On a side note, my husband thinks that I could have a lucrative career writing product descriptions for the J. Peterman catalog.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And that reminds me...

MY design. Not TGDNE's

Of this very true story:

Once a couple of years ago, on a whim, I suddenly had the urge to design some little 3 dimensional hand knit pears. You can see my original post about this design here. It was, as I thought at the time, one of those true "eureka" moments as an artist where the notion wasn't inspired by anything but my sudden urge to create and my very original idea.

Those pears were received very well by people, and I absolutely loved them myself, so I went on a sort of pear-knitting binge. I was having so much fun whipping those up and making little stems and leaves, and eventually different sizes!

One day I went into my LYS to buy some more pear yarn. I excitedly started telling the shop owner all about my very clever project, after which she directed me to a recent issue of a knitting magazine with HAND KNIT PEARS on the cover. Designed by Nicky Epstein. And I remember thinking "that goddamned Nicky Epstein." I was crushed!

Though to be honest, I liked my design much better. I thought they had a more realistic shape and were just cuter overall. But there was some part of me that began to question if it was truly my original idea. I started to think that maybe I had seen that cover somewhere and it got filed away into my subconscious until one day it bubbled up to the surface, seemingly out of nowhere. I mean...because, this is Nicky Effing Epstein were talking about here. I had only been knitting for what? 4 years? How could I possibly have come up with this genius idea on my own?!

In the time since I have seen many other approximations to my own knitted pears, and part of me thinks "Holy crap! I have been copied!" But after what happened to me in my LYS I could never be sure. And bottom line, I could never complete with TGDNE even if I wanted to.

Where does it begin and where does it end?

I read a post on another designer's blog recently about the issue of imitation. This subject is something that I (like practically every other artist) has struggled with at some point or other. But now after reading this post and comments I am truly confused about where imitation begins. And, perhaps more importantly, is anything, any design or object style or technique, truly original? And can it really and truly be claimed as the artists original work alone?

My mother-in-law used to tell me when I would question my work "there is nothing new under the sun" and often that was all I needed to reassure me that my work is indeed my own and not a copy of someone else. There is one scenario that stands out, though, where I am not so sure.

Inspired by an item I discovered made by another artist in another medium, I replicated the shape of a certain accessory. It was in another color, it was in a completely different material, and I am sure created by a completely different method. However, I just couldn't get past it. To this day I still feel very much like a fraud for it. And this is even despite all the differences I listed in addition to finding through some research that the shape was not original per se, but a recreation of a style that was popular decades ago.

So then, was I imitating the subject of my inspiration, or the first person to create the particular shape of this accessory more than 50 years ago?

Knitting and weaving are crafts that have been around almost as long as man. But who invented them? Were they invented simultaneously in completely different parts of the world by people who never crossed paths? When I knit or weave am I imitating the art of a "person" who lived thousands or maybe even millions of years ago?

What about techniques? Mobius knitting is rather new in the realm of knitting. If I knit a mobius am I imitating the first person to discover how to knit a mobius? Would I be a fraud if I knit a mobius of my own "design" and tried to sell it?

I recently discovered a new technique of weaving called "clasped weaving" that I am really anxious to try out. Examples I have seen by other weavers are simply stunning and I cannot wait to try my hand at it. BUT, if I do will I be a copycat? A fraud? And what happens when I graduate to a harness loom and start working patterns (houndstooth, chevron, twill, etc.) that have been around for a century or more? Someone invented those patterns, those designs, and now am I to assume that every time I see something woven in one of these patterns that the artist is not an artist at all but instead someone who could not come up with their own just as interesting "pattern" and is now an imitator? And by that measure, even if one were to come up with their own pattern, wouldn't they be imitating the person who first determined that patterns could be devised for weaving? What about the first person who ever wove? Where does it begin and where does it end?

For now I am seriously confused. Situations like this do nothing to reaffirm my confidence in myself as an artist, but rather make me question my own validity and feel positively unoriginal. Sigh.