Inspired by Architecture

I love to travel. I've visited many places in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and two years ago I took a big trip to Egypt. It was a thrilling experience, and I hope to go again someday. My favorite way to experience a new place is through the architecture. I love touring old houses, exploring interesting buildings, and visiting gardens (and knit shops!).

Byzantine Pullover
by Tanis Lavallée


Wrought Iron Tote
by Angela Hahn
Beaux Arts Cardigan
by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

This spring, I'm taking a trip to the East Coast to visit New York and Boston. I've never been to either city! We're going to tour the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, too, and I can't wait.

When I can't actually take a trip, I'm a great armchair traveler. I watch Rick Steves on PBS, read travel books, and read fiction set in exotic locales.

I love to knit items that are based on places I've visited, too. I've knit the Koolhaas hat, based on the design of the Seattle Public Library, and the Caftan Pullover, which evoke Middle Easter designs. Both of these designs used interesting knitting techniques, too, as do many of the patterns in Knitting Architecture.

Now I can bring my love of knitting and architecture together even more in our new book Knitting Architecture, by Tanis Gray. Tanis has brought together all kinds of knitwear that was inspired by architecture from all over the world.

Architecture + Knitting

Have you ever stood in wonder, stopped dead in your tracks by a stunning building? How about by a beautiful sweater? We have dozens of museums the world over dedicated to architecture or apparel, but have you ever thought about how similar the two are?

I have always been fascinated by architecture. Something as simple as a large box in which we dwell can suddenly become a stunning, ultramodern structure, or be covered in ornate details inspired by movements in history, the climate, or a clever idea.

Similarly, designing knitwear starts with an idea, a blueprint or schematic, math, materials, and a little bit of inspiration. A hat on the person in front of us at the grocery store, a flower on the side of a barren highway, a masterpiece hanging on the wall of a gallery, or a historic building in the middle of a modern city are all inspiration for what we can create with our knitting needles.

My husband, Roger, works at an engineering and architecture firm in Washing ton, D.C., as the director of sustainability. On our first date, we talked about our work—our passions and hobbies.

I was struck by how incredibly different our paths and lines of work were, yet how similar the process was. The planning stages are the same (on much different scales), and the creative process and the taking and giving of ideas as we try to make the designs work can be difficult. In the end, we are both helping an idea come to life.

I hope this book inspires the designer and inner architect in all of us. Dream (and knit) to the limits of your imagination. That's what the designers in this book have done, and it is what makes our craft abundant with possibilities.

—Tanis Gray, from Knitting Architecture

I was lucky enough to get to visit Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture school and winter residence, in Scottsdale, Arizona. I absolutely love the style of architecture, called Prairie School.

Spinning off of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Prairie School designers wished to start a new era of architecture that was distinctly American. Designer Katharina Nopp was inspired by another Frank Lloyd Wright creation, the fabulous Fallingwater House in Western Pennsylvania.

Fallingwater Hat by Katharina Nopp Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright

The most recognized example of the Prairie School of architecture is Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater (above right), with its overhanging eaves, long horizontal planes, flat roofs, and complete integration into the surrounding landscape.

The twisted ribbing and texture of the alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette sections of the Fallingwater Hat create plateaus in multiple directions, much like the structures of the Prairie School style of architecture.

I am in love with this book. The designs stand on their own, but add in the design inspiration from architecture around the world, and they make up a fabulous collection of meaningful knits.

Get your copy of Knitting Architecture today and start knitting a souvenir from one of your trips!


P.S. Leave a comment and tell us about the fabulous trips you've taken and any yarn adventures that were included!

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