Design Challenge

This morning over my coffee I was perusing the book, The Tap-Dancing Lizard, by Catherine Cartwright-Jones. In the introduction, she writes:

“A friend of ours, while on a walking tour of Tibet, decided to commission a rug from a weaver in Lhasa for a friend. The weaver offered her an array of patterns to be woven into the rug, but he didn’t say, “What patterns do you want?; he asked, “How do you want your friend to be blessed?” That question speaks volumes about the purpose of decorative patterns in textiles, and about how much cultural meaning has been surrendered to factory-made fabrics.” Pg. 7.

I love this book. If you do not have this book in your knitting library, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and get a copy. Actually, you may need to search it out online as it has been out since 1992 and may not be readily available.

The above quoted paragraph, and a subsequent flipping through the book, got me thinking about symbols, emblems, logos, etc. in textiles. In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling endows each of the Hogwarts houses with a symbol, the Lion Rampant (to be found in The Tap-Dancing Lizard) being the symbol of Griffindor House. In the movie, The Goblet of Fire, the movie-makers leave us with little doubt about the suspected location of Durmstrang (though the characters in the book make quite a big deal about concealing the location) if you saw the symbol on the mast of the Durmstrang ship, the double-headed eagle. A little historical aside from TT-DL: “When the old Roman Empire broke in two, the double-headed eagle became the symbol of the eastern Empire. …The czars used it as their symbol….” Then it goes on to say, for the knitting designer: “This chart makes a lovely sweater for someone of Russian or Austrian ancestry….”

When I was researching Jedi dress (have you ever noticed how many cloaks they throw off to fight, but never pick up again – must keep the Star Wars weavers busy), I ran across information on the symbol of Naboo. Symbol of Naboo??? What is that? It seems that there is a symbol that is used in the clothing of Padme Amidala (Queen of Naboo and then Senator from Naboo). Sure enough, if you study her costuming, you find the ornate symbol repeated in the fabrics, belts, headpieces, cloaks, frog closings, etc. used for her. This symbol represents “Naboo”.

So where does that leave us? Trust me, if you are buying your clothing “off the rack”, no matter how prestigious the shop, it is highly unlikely that you will find a symbol or logo that represents you. I looked on my slacks: Levi is there, Rider is there, Ralph Lauren is there (fabulous slacks I got at a thrift shop – YES). Is there anything that I own that says “Margaret”? Nope! Is there a certain stitch pattern I incorporate in my knitted designs that says “Margaret”? Nope! Could there be? Sure! (I do have a color that is associated with me, so I am one step along the path to a symbol.)

So here’s the challenge: using whatever materials that work for you, make “your” symbol. Will it be a blessing, your name or initials in another alphabet, a beautifully interwoven design, a color patch, a stitch pattern in a diamond, triangular, square, oval, or circular design background, or what?

When you have your design, send me a SMALL digital photo of your design, and a short description of how you arrived at your design, and I will post them on this blog for others to be inspired and helped along in their own pursuit of a personal symbol. Send everything to me at: dogyarns at gmail dot com.

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