This fascinating book shows how to design knitting motifs with hidden messages using a traditional Latvian technique
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CARLA MEIJSEN wants to show us how to create knitting with a touch of magic! Her intriguing new book explores how to add personal messages and motifs to knitwear, using a Latvian knitting technique known as ‘magic squares’.
These are based on mathematical principles, and can be used to generate geometric patterns. In this book, Carla uses this idea to incorporate coded messages into knitting, and also combines it with other code systems such as Braille and Morse code to knit up secret messages. Not only is it a fun idea to play with, it’s a way to give handmade items a deeper meaning or more personal significance.
Carla developed her ‘Magic Motifs’ system after research trips to the Baltic states, where she studied the symbolism behind the motifs used in traditional textiles including hand-knits. She introduces us to the principle of ‘magic squares’ - 9x9 grids where the number in each cell is generated by multiplying together the row and column number. These produce interesting arrangements of numbers, which can be translated into colourwork patterns; they can also be used to encode significant dates and letters (for example, birth dates or messages) into colourwork motifs.
The book explains how to create your own magic motifs and how to design knitwear with them - using them to form pleasing arrangements, using positive and negative colours, and playing with more than two colours. Carla then introduces other coding systems, such as Morse code , Braille, and computer codes including binary and ASCII, and shows how these can be translated into knitted patterns.
The next section provides tutorials on techniques that might be useful when converting your motifs into knitting, and when trying the projects in this book. These include Fair Isle, beading, Latvian braids, the Turkish cast-on, and ‘Braille’ stitch (a relief pattern used in Latvia).
To help put these methods into practise, Carla offers a range of small projects to try: a pair of Latvian mittens, handwarmers, a cowl, a hat in the Shetland ‘kep’ style, a cushion cover, a drawstring bag, and a mobile phone cover.
The whole idea of ‘magic motifs’ might sound complicated, but they’re easy to understand thanks to the well explained instructions in the book. We’re looking forward to playing with these principles to create personalised knitted projects for loved ones.
The book looks at Latvian knitting traditions, as well as tutorials and projects
Magic Motifs: Knitting with a SecretMessage is published by The Dutch Knitters, priced 27.50 (approx. £24). To order a copy online, visit www.meijsen.net/thedutchknitters/ htmls_uk/welkom.htm