I often look around me and think “I can knit that”. Not just sweaters or hats, but anything. A lizard? I can knit that. A tree? I can knit that. A railway bridge, a butterfly or a teapot, I could probably knit them all. Of course I don’t knit them all, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it.
I like to knit in three dimensions and knit around corners, so when I think “I can knit that hippopotamus”, what I’m actually doing is imagining the hippo is made of easily knitted shapes, held together with some fancy technique. At this point I wish I could show you a WETA style animation of a hippo, which breaks into pieces in mid air and morphs into basic shapes, while stitch count numbers write themselves in cursive writing; with arrows; in bullet time.
Before you start calling for a psychiatrist, there are plenty of other designers that obviously work the same way. Architects, pattern cutters or even object oriented computer programmers. But usually we don’t see the inner workings of this design process. We can’t look at a finished piece and reverse engineer it unless we have special training or skills.
There is a big exception to this rule. Lego. I love Lego. Just as I could knit anything, I could also build anything. And it’s the same design process as knitting toys. Basic shapes held together with fancy technique. In the last few months I’ve been to Legoland and been blown away with the construction techniques used there. I’ve also been stuck indoors for a week with a small boy getting over a concussion and used Sean Kenney‘s Lego artwork as an inspiration for engrossing, quiet play.
The following photos are of Lego creations which inspire me as a knitter and a designer. I hope they’ll do the same for you.
This Rocket ship (which I made by copying a photo in one of Sean Kenney’s books) is made of solid lego, but has great fluid curves, it reminds me of short-row shaping. I also like how the fins are made with the Lego equivalent of picking up stitches. But the most important feature for me is just below the window, where there are 6 studs on one level and 5 studs centered above them on the next level. Of course, knitting has no decrease that doesn’t lean left or right.
Classic intarsia work on some signage at Legoland.
More Sean Kenney inspiration. In his book Cool Robots, he gives instructions for how to make simple lego robots from very few pieces. All these robots have the same basic structure. I will be knitting some robots as a direct result of building these from lego.
From the hotel at Legoland UK. The colors make a picture, but there’s also texture on the lion made with different heights of bricks.
And last, but not least, something my husband made. It reminds me of lace knitting, or knitting in the round, as it is very easy to put this circle back together differently to make a spiral.