Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Original Knot Yarn

I was recently inspired by Materfamilias in a talk she and a collaborator gave about the creative process. They had been paired off in an experiment to see what would emerge if you put two academics who didn't know each other and who came from different disciplines. She spoke about knitting and how the two collaborators discovered common threads and ideas. Being an academic enthralled with Canadian literature, she naturally spoke about P.K. Page who had recently passed away and how P.K. was also a keen knitter and had written some poetry about wit:

Knitter's Prayer
Unknit me --
all those blistering strange small intricate stitches --
shell stitch, moss stitch, pearl and all too plain;
unknit me to the very first row of ribbing,
let only the original simple knot remain.

Then let us start again.

' Materfamilias pointed out that the original simple knot could also refer to the umbilical cord knot. All these thoughts came together in my mind with another question 'What creative product would I come up with given their thoughts?' And a personal challenge was born....what if I designed a yarn based on this talk? What would it look like?  

With yarn, you can play with colour, the fibre or a mixture of fibres, the diameter, and the structure (single, two ply or specialty structure). I decided that the yarn would need to start with the colour of red (blood), fade to white (life) and then darken to black (death). I would use a mixture of fibres to represent the many creative thoughts that went into this. I dyed wool that went from red, white to black and then spun it thick and thin for the core. Black alpaca mixed with recycled threads of multi-coloured silk to represent the many threads of thoughts coming together. These were plied together with extra twist and strands of coloured mohair to represent many different life events. Then spun a grey alpaca with a grey/blue cultivated silk to give it a tone and plied it with the already plied yarn in the opposite direction encase the yarn. So what do you think?

Spinner's Prayer

Knit me --
The original knot 
starts the thought.
Blood red, our life begins,
wool white, wool black
a balanced spin.
Many threads, random caught.
spun worsted and woolen, 
slubbed and thin,
paired and plied and 
plied again,
entwined, encased 
and wrapped.
Knit me a life to spin.


  1. Do I sense a baton moving in my direction? a torch being passed along?
    So what's the yardage here, do you think? I'll have to put my knitter's thinking cap on and see what this inspired yarn can now itself inspire . . . and on it goes, collaboration . . .

  2. I thought of phoning you, but then I thought, this was a good way to let you knot the flames are getting higher and to pass the torch ;-). It adds up to just over 100meters, but the white section is rather short so I could spin up some more. I haven't done a swatch yet to get a gauge.