Back Page Winter 2013

In the Winter 2013 issue of Interweave Crochet, we wanted to frame our designers' beautiful garments amid the dark burn of the summer's wildfires. So we set up at Tip-Top Guest Ranch in Rist Canyon, site of the High Park Fire, one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history. The setting was perfect, if you define perfect as an area where the trees were completely destroyed.

Framing the area, as it turns out, was the easy part. Actually navigating this devastating landscape was another story. As we walked through the area, our feet sank without warning into the dirt where the roots had burned into the soil, leaving hidden cavities. We set up the first shot so that the entire background was black soil and black trees, ideal for showing off Kathy Merrick's Mica Pullover.

Winds gusted relentlessy, defining the path of the fire and churning up black soot that fought our eyelashes and hampered the camera equipment. Before we even got the first shot properly set up, our model was felled by a cinder in her eye.

While she went back to the staging area for treatment, we were left without a model. Caleb of Harper Point, our intrepid photography team, began snapping pictures of the area. The resulting images are hauntingly beautiful. I decided to try to capture them in crochet, to bring together the images and our purpose for being there.

At first, I crocheted a single scene–one that shows the new growth amid the burn. (This is the scene that appears in the issue.) But I wanted more.

Those acrylic Polaroid photo cubes came to mind. Remember those? It's An acrylic cube sized to hold Polaroid photos. (Plastics were all the rage in the late 60s and 70s). So, I selected five more images and set about crocheting them. I "cropped" the photos into a square so that I could add the iconic white Polaroid frame.

 (Note: the beautiful images below are by Harper Point Photography. The not-so-beautiful snapshots of the crochet are by yours truly.)

Caleb laid flat on the ground to take this image of tiny new growth in the burned soil. It was the start of a long day of becoming intimate with the soil. Just beyond the black trees, you'll see brownish trees. This is "yellow burn," and it frames the black burn. Some of these trees have black trunks, brown needles, and at the top, a burst of green needles.
Shot from below, this tree stands stark against the impossible Colorado sky. Sunlight kisses the bark as the limbs cast shadows on themselves. The interplay of light and shadow was tricky to capture in mere yarn.
The full vertical of this image (which also appears on pages 58-59 of the magazine) reveals a rainbowish reflection at the top. Yarn is not up to the task of capturing the variance of light as it threads through the branches of the trees. The sun seems to be bestowing hope upon the forest.
The heat burned the bark off this branch, exposing the vulnerable center. Next to it, new growth is bursting forth. The earth appears black/brown here, but if you squint, you can see a glint. The ground was sparkling with mica; it was as if we were treading in a fairyland. To reflect this, I used a very special yarn: It is llama fiber spun with stellina by Elaine Sipes of Your Daily Fiber in Fort Collins. Elaine's farm near Livermore, CO, was the location for the Winter 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet. It is near the site of the High Park Fire. On June 14, Elaine wrote to me: We are still 12 miles from this fire, although we evacuated a week ago for a fire 1 mile to the east. All was well, all animals and the place is fine, and we now have some experience on how to do this. I hope we don't need it! 
We are just praying for rain and less wind, and the llamas are getting used to wearing their halters all the time just in case.

New growth springs up tenaciously next to a rock, casting a shadow. Throughout the shoot, a phrase danced in my mind: "A terrible beauty is born," a line by William Butler Yeats that summarizes this experience so well.

We were at the burned area for a large part of the day, so we were able to see how the sunlight played with the landscape. Here a tiny tree, just coming up at the time of the fire, stands black, casting a shadow larger than itself. In the image, it's difficult to discern where the tree ends and the shadow begins, bringing to mind another line from Yeats: "How can we tell the dancer from the dance?" And still, that new growth springs up all around, giving green hope against the long shadow of destruction.

And there, my friends, is my memory cube of the Interweave Crochet Winter 2013 photoshoot.

A few notes on the crochet elements here:

The cube is largely freeform crochet. The background is the same number of stitches and rows, worked in hdc flo to provide a solid, flat background. For some scenes, I crocheted a plain background, then worked surface crochet stitches and embroidery on it. Some have backgrounds crocheted in more than one color, incorporating intarsia at points.

I drew on stash yarns for this, most in DK or light worsted. The extensive palette I used for an earlier Back Page project was a great source.  I used Elaine's yarn for the sparkling ground, as noted above. Manos del Uraguay gives a nice tonal look to the greenery and bark.

I stuffed the cube with orts. I keep a Mason jar in my work area to capture these little yarn ends and, well, it was full (curiously, even after stuffing this cube, it's still full—those things fluff up!)

I hope this installment of Back Page inspires you to your own crochet awesomeness.

What event would you like to keep ready at hand? You might combine the earlier Back Page on crochet portraits and crochet a cube of portraits. Or mix portraits and landscape in, say, a beach memory cube.  You could even make a cube with team logos on it for throwing at the TV during games. You could leave off the photo frame and work the images right to the edges. it's your cube after all.

We'd love to see what creative paths you are inspired to follow! Please share in the Member Photo Gallery.

Happy crocheting,


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