Inspiration and the Internet

Yesterday Gurnam and I made a quick run to the fabric store to see if we could find the same plaid flannel I’d used for the back of my significant sweetheart person’s tee shirt quilt.  Now, this king-size blanket of race day memories has been a saga in and of itself, let me tell you. But I can see the light at the end of the jersey tunnel.  Also, the quilt goddesses were smiling on me because (after fondling lots of other delicious plaids) . . . we found it!

Of course, on the way to the cutting counter we forgot to attach our blinders and were seduced by the offerings of other aisles, row upon row of tempting bolts lined up like call girls on the street waiting to be chosen.  And that’s when I saw it: a print of softly-coloured birds fluttering dreamily over a cream background   Nearby, the animal prints called out, bold abstracts and shiny florals lured me away momentarily, but I returned to the one that first caught my eye. I almost snapped a photo, which I now regret not doing.  I also didn’t buy it.  (As it is, I was glad the flannel was 50% off and I only needed a half yard. Counting pennies.)

Even so, thoughts of the fabric lingered, and led me to a web search for a blouse pattern. Which led to a runway collection pic of a shirt I thought was interesting. Which led to Pringle of Scotland. On their “Our Story” page, I learn this venerable fashion house not only has and continues to clothe the Royal Family, they introduced the intarsia design that became a signature pattern for another one of my favorite things (next to tartans):  argyle socks!

Being relatively unfamiliar with knitting terms (coming from a family of crocheters), I had to then look up “intarsia” to learn more. Turns out, it is a knitting technique used to create patterns using different colours. (It is also a woodworking technique  where shapes from different species of wood are fitted together in a mosaic-like way to create an illusion of depth. Pretty cool.)

But back to the knitting intarsia. I look forward to chatting with my friend Joan from Ewe and Me Yarn Shop to learn more, but what I picked up from Wikipedia answered my question about why the inside of my argyle socks look different from the other socks I own. The intarsia technique allows strands of the different colors of yarn to hang out (not be cut off) while the other color is being knit, and then it’s picked back up again. This creates a smooth effect on the right side, but the inside has strands that stand away a little bit from the main body of the sock. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that these might catch one’s toes on the way in isn’t a deterrant from wearing them; they’re too awesome.


Apparently, there’s a chart to use to get it right. Once I spend more time knitting, and get to the point where I learn to make socks (a little while from now), I’ll tackle argyles (a long while from now). Here’s a vintage pattern perhaps I can use:


Knowing in the back of my mind that the argyle pattern likely came from a place, my curiosity led me down one more rabbit hole to discover Argyll. It is an area on the west coast of Scotland, which happens to be home to the distilleries of some of my favorite whiskies. (That can be a subject for another day on a different blog.)  But I am beginning to see a different kind of pattern here. Seems the list of my long-time favorite things includes a few elements connected to Scottish ancestory about which I only learned. Guess #itsinmyblood.

Anyway, let’s come full circle. While I don’t have the bird fabric nor a blouse pattern, I do have the flannel for the tee shirt quilt and it’s time to sign off here and get to the studio. Today is the misty, overcast kind of day I love and it will be just right for finishing this two-years-in-the-making project. This evening I’ll return home with it and the fellow and I can snuggle up and start planning our trip next year to Scotland.


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