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Shadow knitting

 Shadow knitting is a form of textural knitting that employs a combination of stockinette and garter stitch in two or more colors. The idea is clever and simple at the same time. When viewed flat with diffused lighting, you only see the colors, but when the knit surface or you or the light move, then you see the texture and the protruding ridges of garter stitch project shadows on the "indented" rows below them, adding to the multidimentional effect. The overall impression is one of shimmering now-you-see-it-now-you-don't that can be subtle to the point of almost invisibility.

The idea of understated beauty has long been a hallmark of Japanese aesthetics so it's not surprising that the first documentation of this technique is found in Japan. At least according to Danish designer Vivian Høxbro who, in the preface to her book, openly credits a Japanese book as the first publisher of patterns that used this knitting technique.

Shadow Knitting
by Vivian Høxbro
ISBN 1931499411

The book that started it all.

Shadow Knitting clearly presents examples and diagrams for a variety of projects and they are all beautiful, but they seem more variations on a theme than distinct design directions. I would have loved to see more design exploration and less execution.

Pot holder.

Chek out Vivian Høxbro's website for other designs and knitting kits. I particularly like Wing Shawl 3.

If these images have wetted your appetite for new projects and you want to design something using this technique, consider that:

  • It's where different textures and colors meet that you see a pattern more clearly, so pay particular attention to the edges between areas.
  • Part of the optical effect is caused by alternating light and dark colors so if your colors are too close in value — as in light orange and medium orange for instance — the effect may be too subtle.
  • Light colors seem to advance and dark colors recede, so you can use this optical illusion to intensify or soften a particular effect.

Have fun!