Illusion knitting – the Woolly Thoughts way
Steve Plummer of Woolly Thoughts writes about illusion knitting and shares some striking images of the work he has done with Pat Ashforth.
Illusion knitting, sometimes called shadow knitting, has been around for some time. Every right side row of the illusion is knit stitches. On the wrong side row if the stitch is knitted it will stand forward and if the stitch is purled it will pull back. This difference in the height of stitches creates the illusion.
We certainly didn’t invent it but we have refined the technique to allow us to produce far more complex illusions than had previously been the case. We have also taken the step of making a distinction between illusion knitting and shadow knitting. Although they both use the same technique and both rely on the different properties of stocking stitch and garter stich for the effects they create they do have slightly different outcomes. Shadow knitting, as the name implies, provides a material with a shadowy surface that seems to change in colour or texture according to the angle of viewing. Illusion knitting uses this change of colour and texture to produce an image that appears or disappears according to the angle of viewing.
The photos below show our definition of the distinction between shadow and illusion knitting.
If the first design were to be used on a garment you would see different colours and shadows as you moved around.
Einstein is definitely a picture but if you look at it from immediately in front you only see stripes.
The refinement that we made to the illusion knit technique was a simple change in the charting process that provided us with a chart more versatile than any previous chart we know of. This new type of chart has allowed us to design very intricate patterns and pictures instead of the simple silhouettes that tended to be the limit of the illusion knitting that we had seen.
The pictures are difficult to chart but easy to knit. They use only two colours. You knit two rows in one colour followed by two rows in the other colour, using only knit and purl stitches. If you can knit, purl and count you can make any of these pictures.
The Albert Einstein, Mona Lisa and Proserpine illusion knits are good examples of the more intricate work that our charts allow. They are all designed to be viewed from the side.
Other designs, such as this Teddy Bear, are intended to be seen from the bottom.
We have also experimented with unusual uses of Shadow Knitting and have designed several afghans, cushions, and other items where viewing things from a different angle can create an unexpected optical illusion.
We originally intended to write a book about Illusion Knitting but it proved to be quite tricky, mainly because illusion knits are extremely difficult to photograph. Illusions are only appreciated as you move round them. Instead, we created a new web site called The World of Illusion Knitting.
On the site you will find many free tutorials for both shadow and illusion knitting. You will also find detailed instructions on how to make your own picture, along with examples of designs successfully created by others.
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