Local Color: Kansas

The Local Color sweater story in Knits Summer 2015 features some charming colorwork motifs inspired by the designers’ hometowns and regions in updated cowichan sweater style. There are Maryland crabs, railroad tracks, lilies, and smokestacks of Birgingham, Alabama, and an art-deco pattern inspired by the Chrysler building in New York City.

Ann McDonald Kelly Chesapeake Jacket 2

Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark Magic City Henley 1Alexis Winslow Chrysler Cardigan 2


Chesapeake Jacket                        Magic City Henley                              Chrysler Cardigan
Ann McDonald Kelly                       Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark            Alexis Winslow

I am from eastern Kansas, home of the Konza Prairie, which is a part of the largest tallgrass prairie spread in North America. Most people think of Kansas as “flat as a pancake” but the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas are not so. Along with local tallgrass and wild flowers that grow, prairie chickens and bison reside on the Konza. I have always loved the bison and feel very connected to it. Even though they aren’t only specific to this area, they always make me think of Kansas and the Konza—a beautiful part of where I grew up.

So naturally, in response to the Local Color story I decided to make up a swatch with a bison motif. I’ve never created something like this before without a pattern beforehand, so I started with some graph paper and used colored pencils to draw the bison over the stitch boxes. I used Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport (the same yarn as is used in Alexis Winslow’s cardigan) and it was so nice and smooth to knit with. So, I have a very simple buffalo that reminds me of my home and the peaceful prairie. It hangs at my work desk and makes me smile. I went back home last weekend to see my best friend get married, and spending eight days there reminded me of what I love about the place. Now, when I look at the bison at my desk, I not only see the prairie, but I see the people I love and all of the experiences Kansas has afforded me that contribute to who I am as a person.

Kansas Bison

One thing I love about this is that I can apply this bison motif to different kinds of projects. I could put this on a blanket, a scarf, hat, or pillow. I think a throw pillow with a bison (and another with a Kansas sunflower) would look gorgeous on my living room couch!

What motif would you design that is inspired by your home town or region? Would it feature animals, plants, architectural or industrial elements? We encourage you to explore this idea and create a motif, and we’d love to see projects/swatches with these elements that you may have done already!


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