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A Journey of Knitting and Art

Jun 6, 2014

My recent trip to New York City was so much fun. I went to four knitting stores and four museums, plus a ton of places in between. It was a little bit of a sprint through New York and New England!

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth
(Tempera on panel; 32¼ x 47¾" [81.9 x 121.3 cm]; Purchase; Museum of Modern Art; 1948)
The Wyeth Shrug from New American Knits

The museums were fabulous; my favorite was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It seemed like with every corner I turned, I was greeted by an amazing piece of art that took my breath away.

Van Gogh's spectacular Starry Night, Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, Monet's Water Lilies (huge paintings that take up an entire room!), Picasso's Girl Before a Mirror, and a special favorite of mine, Andrew Wyeth's magic realism masterpiece, Christina's World.

I saw this painting at the National Gallery in D.C. many years ago, and I was so happy to visit it again. The picture evokes such interesting feelings.

One the one hand, it looks like polio-stricken Christina is stranded far from her house, and on the other, it shows her spirit in being able to embark on an outdoor adventure even though she can't walk. It's really inspiring to me, and calming, too. I've heard from others that this painting makes them feel anxious. It's amazing how art affects people differently.

Another painting that struck me was Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream, which I saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It's a frightening scene—a solitary man on a broken sailboat in rough seas and surrounded by sharks. Yeah, no thanks! The painting grabbed me, though, and I looked at it for quite a while. The man looks almost carefree, as unimaginable as that seems with the sharks circling. There's a larger ship far in the distance, which gave me hope; maybe the man in the painting feels the same way.

Knitting and art collide for me all the time. I find so much inspiration in art, architecture, and nature. Many designers feel this way, too, including Amy Christoffers. In her book New American Knits, all of her designs are inspired by American artists. It's really fun to look through the patterns in the book, because you can see characteristics of each artist in Amy's designs.

Her tributes to Wyeth and Homer are two of my favorite pieces in the book, which is so great, since the artists are two of my favorite artists as well.

Amy's Wyeth Shrug is oversize and slouchy. It's worked in a waffle-stitch pattern with an I-cord edging that's worked as you knit—no picking up stitches all around when you're done with the body! It's knit horizontally and the seams are grafted when the main knitting is done. Amy likens this piece to Andrew Wyeth's perfect balance of refined and rustic.


The Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer
(Oil on canvas; 28 1/8 x 49 1/8 in. [71.4 x 124.8 cm]
Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906)

I can really see Wyeth's Christina wearing this shrug!

The Winslow Camisole is a versatile garment, knit in a textured vine lace pattern with garter-stitch edging. According to Amy (and I agree!), "It pairs utility with a little sentimental sweetness, like the landscapes of the painter Winslow Homer. This camisole can be worn either as a tank or a vest.

Knit in sport-weight yarn, it works for nearly any fiber—breezy linen or cotton for summer or wool, cashmere, or silk for a light but warming winter layer."

My example of Homer's work isn't sweet or sentimental, but Homer has a wide body of work; his paintings Snap the Whip and Boys in a Pasture more readily evoke the sentimental and sweet feelings that Amy picked up on.

The Winslow Camisole from
New American Knits

New American Knits is a fantastic book. It's inspiring in many ways; you'll want to knit the beautiful designs and learn more about the artists that motivated Amy's work.

I highly recommend New American Knits. Order your copy today, or download the eBook and start knitting now!


P.S. What piece of art inspires you? Share it with us in the comments!

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on Jun 9, 2014 7:51 AM

Inspired by food

For me is knitting my way of artistic expression. I knit still life, Butchery and baroque buffet. Look at

Madame Tricot

ddipsy wrote
on Jun 7, 2014 2:34 PM

One of my patients is a well known chalk artist of her time.  She is best known for her flowers and unconvential blending of colors.  I must maintain patient confidentiality, so I am unable to give you her name.  I have seen her work in books and online.  In addition, for occupational therapy, she is given chalk and paper.  I am highly inspired by both her past and present works.  The use of blending colors, which if spoken we would think them to be so wrong together, draws me closer to her imagination.  I find that I often think of her works when I am either designing a pattern or using a printed one.  At the yarn store I will take skeins to a table and just drop them.  However they fall, I step back and visualize how I would blend them together.  One by one, a skein is taken away until I see the colors as my patient would see them.  It  is truly an eye opener!

DUCKY711 wrote
on Jun 7, 2014 11:31 AM

Kathleen, I didn't see Amy's Wyeth Shrug included in the patterns available in the New American Knits publication (with the link provided in this article).  At $18.49, it would be pretty frustrating not to get the pattern... even though the other patterns are quite lovely.

Is there any way I can be certain the Wyeth Shrug is included before making a purchase?

Your attention to my query would be appreciated.


CHIcarla wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 10:09 PM

Years ago my mom bought me a book (on sale for cheap!) called "Knitting Masterpieces," published in 1987.  It gives charts for knitting oversized pullovers covered with intarsia reproductions of famous paintings, ranging from a prehistoric cave painting to the Mona Lisa to Monet's waterlilies to Roy Lichtenstein's "Whaam," and many others.  I've never knit any of these patterns and probably never will -- my colorwork skills are not up to the task, and besides, these sweaters are anything but wardrobe staples -- but I've kept the book as a curiosity.

Sueduck wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 1:35 PM

Christina's World

If it's a consolation to those who are made anxious by this painting, I live in Maine and have been to Friendship to see the Christina's home. Wyeth, of course, used the perspective of distance; however, the house and barn are just across a narrow road from each other. The field where Christina is probably not more than 300 feet from the house.

Sue Duckworth  

on Jun 6, 2014 11:00 AM

Oops! Typo alert! Should be "grafted seams."

on Jun 6, 2014 9:55 AM

I saw the photo of the painting in the email before I read your description of Christina's plight.  I knew nothing of her before that, and I thought the painting was just of a girl lying in the grass - perhaps daydreaming...  Can you tell I know nothing about art?  No matter - I still like to knit, crochet, spin and weave!  :)

BarbaraE@14 wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 8:04 AM

Did you mean "integrated " seams?  I am not familiar with the term "grated" seams.

Need to visit a gallery after reading your article.  Thank you.

BarbaraE@14 wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 8:04 AM

Did you mean "integrated " seams?  I am not familiar with the term "grated" seams.

Need to visit a gallery after reading your article.  Thank you.

BarbaraE@14 wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 8:04 AM

Did you mean "integrated " seams?  I am not familiar with the term "grated" seams.

Need to visit a gallery after reading your article.  Thank you.

athodge wrote
on Jun 6, 2014 7:44 AM

I loved hearing about your trip to MoMA, being an artist (and knitter) myself. I recognized every painting you talked about. Homer's painting doesn't scare me, I marvel at the way he painted the water, a very difficult thing to do! He is probably my favorite artist although I prefer his watercolors. I'm pretty much in love with all the Wyeths too. Once I spotted Jamie in the Farnsworth Gallery, in Maine and brazenly, I walked up to him, shook his hand and said, "Hi! You must be Jamie!" He looked so puzzled, like maybe I was an aunt he should have known.

When I went to MoMA I spotted a Picasso, not one of my favorite artists, but it was the painting, "Woman looking in a mirror" or something like that. I blown away with how beautiful it was. "Guernica" however, was horrible, but that's what he intended it to be.

Thank you for that wonderful blog!


on Jun 6, 2014 7:40 AM

I am inspired by JMW Turner and James Whistler.

on Jun 6, 2014 7:40 AM

I am inspired by JMW Turner and James Whistler.