Knitted Vegetable Workshop

On my Eat Your Greens post, Susan asked me if I had ever knit a potato. At the time of that post, I confess that I hadn’t, and I found myself saddened by having to respond to the question in the negative.

I have fixed that now and can confidently assert that indeed I have knit a potato.

Although not as aesthetically pleasing to me as, for instance, the apples that I knit in preparation for the Knitted Vegetable Workshop last Friday, the potato is – in my opinion at least – one of the very best vegetable knits in my growing collection. I love the dichotomy inherent in this soft, hand-knitted, careful recreation of something so ordinary, so mundane, so humble, so earthy and so cheap. The Knitted Potato acts like a question mark hanging above ideas about what is valuable, what is beautiful, what is real. Spending the time devising its nubbly, tweedy eyes, understuffed, irregular squishiness and carefully blended potato-ish colours was like a meditation for me on the absolute qualities of potato-ness. I used it as a case in point in the Knitted Vegetable Workshop to illustrate the fact that the best inspiration for knitted vegetables comes from gardening books and not from knitting books:

I created a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ worksheet based around its essential surface/shape qualities:

And I used it to demonstrate some of my ideas about colours and colour blending during the knitting of the vegetables.

All of this provided ample time to contemplate its humility, beauty and common uses, as a vegetable. How could sausages have ever gained popularity in a world without mash? How could casseroles, shepherd’s pie, stews, Sunday roasts or chips have gained purchase in our collective, culinary imaginations, without the Potato? Truly it is a vegetable of wonder. Mark’s immediate response to The Knitted Potato was that it ought to have a jacket with little buttons, therefore epitomising the idea of a Jacket Potato. I admit this is a wonderfully diverting project idea, but for now, the potato will remain naked and simple, and live in my pocket providing grounding and warmth.

Other knitters at the knitted vegetable workshop began developing their own imaginative renditions of various fruits and veg:

Here are the beginnings of Barbara’s amazing pomegranate:

And this is Hannah’s immense, fairytale style toadstool growing steadily throughout the workshop:

It is even bigger on her blog!

Jan commenced with a lovely, yellow pepper:

Whilst Ruth worked on a cucumber design, using carefully blended deep greens and ribbing for the textured sides.

The huge array of yarns laid out in rough colour order, plus Jamie’s cooking book, plus some gardening books, plus Barbara’s previously made Halloween Pumpkin, provided ample inspiration for all of us:

Here is our workshop table of wonderment, covered with wool mostly from my own stash, from PYF’s oddments sack and purchased from Crafty Yarn. For Reading-based Knitters, Crafty Yarn is a superb place to get a little bit of lots of things… I think it is essential to be able to see a lot of colours and textures to improvise knitted vegetables. The process of selecting yarns is akin to perusing oilpaints before a massive painting spree and deciding that ‘scarlet lake’ or ‘viridian hue’ are the very thing necessary for the task in hand. I have enough yarn to do many more workshops featuring the knitting of the vegetables and I want to keep on developing the workshop.

I learned an awful lot from this first one. Mostly that:

  1. 6 stitches is far too small and fiddly a number of stitches for learning the way of the DPNs!
  2. Cake is always appreciated!

My recipe for the black pepper and ginger squash cake will be tomorrow’s post!

Thanks once again to Suzanne at Jelly for helping me to set this up; thanks to everyone who came; thanks to Crafty Yarn and PYF for yarns, thanks to Barbara for making tea and opening/closing the workshop space for me and thank you finally and most especially, to vegetables everywhere for your continuing beauty and inspiration.

5 Responses to Knitted Vegetable Workshop

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » New Year’s knitting resolutions

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