I am a real fan of fusion cooking. It’s about taking the best of two or more traditional cuisines and combining them into a single dish. As you may know, I have become very interested in Fairisle knitting, and indeed in stranded knitting techniques in general. I have spent many hours pouring over patterns and projects and admiring the use of colour and pattern and technique. One of the things that has been catching my eye lately, however, is what I am going to call Fusion Knitting – garments that are created by combining traditional knitting styles and techniques.
Here is an example:
This design, called Heart’s Content, is by the Canadian designer Jennifer Beale. She has only released eight patterns so far (on Ravelry here), but each combines different knitting styles in interesting ways. Heart’s Content is a basic top-down, in-the-round, knitted tee, in which the lace pattern at the top and shoulders transitions to stranded knitting for the body of the garment. Not only is it pretty and imminently wearable but it has an advantage for someone who is new to stranded knitting: no steeks!
Another example of her work is the design called Joe Batt’s Arm:
I really love her poetic description of this garment (from the Ravelry pattern page):
Joe Batt’s Arm is a structured, seamed cable knit with textured fair isle banding. The fair isle bands border the eyelet cables the same way that a bright blue night encloses the Fogo Island Inn with all of its light on. At the same time, the raglan shoulders lend a sporty quality to the pullover.
I dare you to read that sentence and not to want to search for the Fogo Island Inn. I already did and I want to go there RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Check out the photo here. I love that she mentions her inspiration for this, as it really clicks once you’ve seen it. This is a very intriguing and striking garment, and I imagine it would be both fun and challenging to knit.
Another knitter who is exploring the fusion of different knitting styles is the Japanese designer Junko Okamoto. Here is her design, Astrid:
I love this pullover which combines a beautiful muted stranded pattern with cabled sleeves. Like Heart’s Content above, this is an example of a stranded garment that doesn’t need steeking. Astrid also has a loose, billowy shape – a new profile that is in counterpoint to the fitted garments of recent years, and has been championed by a crop of new (to me at least) Japanese designers of handknitting patterns. It is a one-size-fits-all garment designed to be voluminous. (I am eagerly awaiting projects of this pattern on knitters of various sizes so I can evaluate its drape and fit.)
I’m not sure whether to call it fusion knitting as such, but I am also really caught up by Junko’s Bouquet Sweater and Bouquet Scarf, both shown in the photo below:
If you look really carefully at the photos (go check out the Ravelry project pages), you can see the very interesting mix of techniques, including stranding the yarn on both the wrong and on the right side to create this ethereal, three-dimensional patterning that looks like moss on the forest floor.
I am totally captivated by these examples of Fusion Knitting and I would love to find other designers also pushing the boundaries and doing interesting juxtapositions of traditional styles and techniques. If you know of any, please mention them in the comments!
Interesting designs! You have been doing some deep diving on Ravelry!
Procrastination often leads to increased Rav time!
I know! Ain’t it great? 😉
There is always something interesting and new in the knitting world! I had seen Jennifer Beale’s designs, but not Junko Okamato’s – they are great finds! Are you thinking about knitting any of these?
I have been thinking about Astrid. There is an example on Ravelry by pnjaban that has been tweaked just a bit to make it slimmer; it is really lovely. I can get the yarn easily too. These aren’t my normal colours, but I think they might be a pretty change. In any case, it is one of those patterns vying in my head for a place in the queue.
So many lovely things to knit!
Sorry – Okamoto
Nice finds. This Bouquet sweater is truly intriguing and you describe it very well: it does indeed look like moss over old stone. So clever!
It really makes a difference which yarns you use. There are some examples on Ravelry where the knitter has used two high contrast yarns and the look is quite different. I kind of like the very subtle effects from the sample pieces. I find that I am particularly taken with the scarf for some reason. The design and technique are definitely clever!
Wow, that Inn looks amazing! Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until I win the lottery or receive a large inheritance from a hitherto unknown wealthy aunt… but I can dream. I love how you highlight such unusual patterns and bring them together with a common theme and great descriptions and insights.
Thanks, Helen! And I hear you on the lottery; I didn’t even look at the prices for the Inn before I linked it. I still want to go, though! Someday, when I’m rich. 🙂 As you say, we can dream about it.
You’ve pointed out my favorite designer of “fusion” knits with Junko Okamoto, but I’ll put in a word for Caitlin Hunter’s Zwieg pullover as well: topdown yoke combining twisted-stitch lace with a bit of stranded colorwork.
Hi Gretchen. Thanks for the call-out to Zweig. I have seen quite a few lovely examples of that one. I’m really enjoying these creative efforts of designers, and agree that Junko Okamoto is one to watch.
Btw, I do know how to spell “Zweig”, but apparently I can’t type it.