Want to see some knitted pictures of the Oxfordshire landscape?
Those of you who’ve been here for so long that the seat of your chair has moulded itself to the shape of your perfectly-proportioned posterior may remember this post. Executive summary: I set off around south Oxfordshire in search of the perfect view to photograph for a yarn-related project, and ended up finding a door that may – or may not – have been the portal to another dimension.
The project in question was this: I wanted to design knitted or crocheted pictures of the Oxfordshire countryside, each portraying a different season. In a pub near here, there is a framed set of four photographs of the same (local) scene, taken in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The Stoic Spouse was impressed and wondered whether we should attempt something similar. But why spend seconds taking a photograph when you can spend hours (and hours) knitting the same thing instead?
It’s not the first time I’ve knitted the scenery. In my old job, I sometimes drove home to this view (FREE PATTERN ALERT!):-
(There’s a crochet version, too.)
My task, this time, would have been easier if Oxfordshire had been a teeny bit more mountainous. Our embarrassing lack of mountains is something that irks me considerably. I’ve complained to the county council about the matter, but to no avail. So I’m forced to work with the materials at hand and let’s face it, Oxfordshire could at best be considered slightly hilly (except when I’m out for a run, at which point it starts feeling positively Himalayan).
The idea slowly grew. I’ve been quietly playing with knitting and crocheting landscape-like images for a while now, with varying success. Experimentation taught me that the three techniques which combine to yield the best result are knitting, short-rows, and intarsia. (I’m usually not a fan of intarsia, but needs must.)
I sketched the landscape that I wanted to (re)create.
Given the problems that I’d had finding the right view, I decided to design a generic Oxfordshire-like landscape, with the important exception that I included the (very real) Wittenham Clumps. You can see them top right of the scenery in each picture.
The slightly lower of the two is an ancient hill fort, photographed up-close in this post:-
The knitting was surprisingly easy. I worked in rows from the bottom of the design upwards. I wrote down everything that I did and often, I’d rip back a section and try it in a different way. Great swathes of text in my pattern-writing notebook were crossed out in angry black pen. The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK, with a little bit of Stylecraft Tweedy in the foreground.
The shapes of the fields were created using short rows, as I knitted back and forth (and back and forth) on the sections that needed to be raised. In some of the fields, various rib stitches imply lines of crops or recent ploughing.
Mostly, it was fun. Mostly. Every few rows, I transferred the whole lot to some spare yarn and spread it over my sketch, to see where I was up to and plan the next few rows. After all the faffing and planning, the actual designing and knitting was surprisingly easy.
The first season that I made was summer, so that’s where most of the frogging and re-working happened. About half-way up, I changed my mind about both the colour and the stitch of one of the fields lower down. It’s always good for your knitting confidence to remind yourself that you can drop stitches down and raise them up again without the entire thing spontaneously unravelling into a fluffy tangle of failure and crushed dreams, but replacing a long-completed patch of intarsia was daunting. I proceeded nervously, using needles and two crochet hooks. Honestly, I felt like a neurosurgeon. “2mm hook please, nurse.” The operation was successful and the patient survived.
I ended up with a surprisingly neat rectangle of knitting. Using the instructions that I’d scribbled along the way, I knitted three more pieces, identical except for different colours to reflect each season, and small changes in the ribbing.
They needed a bit more detail, though, don’t you think? So I embroidered a few lengths of hedgerow and some poppies (summer) and hints of snow (winter).
And then, it was done. Look!
Do you know, I’m actually fairly pleased with them?