Monday, June 20, 2011
Knit Artist of the Week: Chris Aiton
To paraphrase David Copperfield, I am the artist of my own life. As a child, I drew, colored, sewed dolls' clothes, and even wrote plays and created puppets to act them out. As an adult, I put away most of my artistic pursuits to work as an accountant and raise a family; but along the way I still found time to quilt and sew. My husband and I first retired in 1997 to go cruising on our sailboat throughout the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean. We returned to the States in 2001 and went back to work for a while. At this time, a boat friend taught me the basics of stockinette stitch and left; but I was hooked, or should I say needled. I found knitting needles and yarns in thrift stores, bought a couple of books, and taught myself to knit. We retired a second time in 2007 and I now have lots of time to paint (watercolor and mixed-media), quilt, sew, read, and knit. I discovered Ravelry in 2009 and then Jane's free-range style of knitting in early 2010, and really enjoy the inspiration and camaraderie of the KAL forums.
Chris's Great Zimbabwe Vest
JT: Have you always been a fearless knitter?
CA: I look back now to my early knitting days and think how naive and fearless I was. In 2004 we were hit by 2 hurricanes, and that winter afterwards while we lived in a small trailer next to our heavily damaged house, I knitted a Suss Cousins kit scarf with multiple yarns. I decided that I wanted a bigger version so I just sat down and calculated stitch counts, etc. and went out and bought a variety of cream yarns to do it. Once I finished that, I decided to knit a lace scarf so I just bought a book, some hand painted silk yarn, and fearlessly attempted it. After several bad starts, I persevered, and the scarf turned out beautifully. That taught me that I could knit anything I wanted and that I could adapt and/or create patterns to suit my body and aesthetic. Right now I am intrigued by dyeing and spinning yarn so that will probably be my next new skill to learn. For my current knitting project, I hand dyed rayon seam binding and I also made stribbons from some quilting fabric.
JT: Who in your creative life most inspires you (please don't say me )
CA: In addition to knitting (and everything else), I have also done beadwork, and in 2006, I took a class with Diane Fitzgerald learning how to make her beautiful ginkgo leaves. I have always been entranced by her impeccable blending of colors and beads, and that same concept runs through my knitting theory and aspirations. I knitted some early pieces with multiple and blended yarns, mostly in garter stitch; but once I discovered your patterns with both multiple hand painted yarns and varied stitches (as in the Knit a Beach pattern), I have gotten closer to the blended beadwork ideal.
Also, color is a vital and integral component to everything I create, whether it be with paints and paper, with fabrics and threads, or with needles and yarn. I have studied color theory and art history, and much of my color inspiration comes from works done by my favorite painters: the misty greens, blues, pinks, and lavenders of Monet's garden paintings; the crisp, clean whites and brights of John Singer Sargent's and Stephen Scott Young's portraits and landscapes; and the myriad shades of whites, grays, and other hues of Whistler's exquisite color studies.
JT: I ask everyone this question: do you wear your knit artistry in public?
CA: Yes, I definitely wear my creations. Most of my pieces are knitted with cotton, rayon, linen, and silk yarns so I can wear them year-round, even where I live in South Florida; but I admit that when the temperature drops below 60degrees F, I bundle myself in my heavier scarves and shawls. After living in hot places for so long, I am now a wimp when it comes to cold weather! Some of my knitted pieces are in colors that are not flattering for me so I usually give them to friends who I know would love them and wear them.
JT: IS there anything you'd love to kniot?
CA: Having mentioned Diane Fitzgerald as an inspiration above, I have in my mind a knitted piece that captures the look of her brick stitch ginkgo leaves - perhaps a kimono knitted in silks with an intarsia leaf design or maybe a top or cardigan with short sleeves that echo the rounded ginkgo shaping and knitted with a variety of hand dyed yarns blended to flow like beadwork. The piece would have a natural flow and rhythm - very zen-like and evocative of the Natural World.
Free Range scotian Meadow
Posted by Jane on
06/20 at 01:18 PM