Outspiration: Rustic Modern Knits

When our team started talking about Outspiration, I knew immediately what book I wanted to share. Rustic Modern Knits: 23 Sophisticated Designs by Yumiko Alexander is packed full of stunning nature-inspired knitwear that’s eye-catching and unique. It’s difficult to pick favorites, but if I’m looking out my own window for inspiration, this book features designs that would easily bring those scenes inside to my needles.

In my neck of New York, wisteria is one of the first flowering plants to bloom in the spring. It’s a riot of purple and white that brings such beauty to the landscape while we’re still waiting for leaves on the trees. Yumiko’s lace vest of the same name features a simple single row lace repeat. The secret behind the beautiful drape of this design is working at a looser gauge than you typically would for sportweight yarn. It’s the perfect piece for spring or fall and, if knit with worsted-weight yarn, would make a lovely winter vest, too.

My mom has grown hydrangeas in every color possible for as long as I can remember. By playing with the pH of the soil, she can clip bouquets of the palest pinks one year and deep variegated purple-blue the next. Yumiko was reminded of hydrangeas when reading Heather Lodinsky’s 150 Knit and Crochet Motifs (currently out of print), and she uses a bobble flower- stitch pattern to create her Hydrangea hat. I love the texture of this hat and can see using a speckled or pastel variegated yarn to knit up a hat that looks like it came straight from my mom’s flower garden. (Come to think of it, Mother’s Day is around the corner; this might be the perfect gift for her!)

The front walk leading to my home is flanked by lily of the valley. I adore the scent and love to pick clusters to place in each room of the house in the spring. I even like to toss a few sprigs on the dashboard of my car so the scent fills every nook and cranny of my life while they’re in bloom. Lily of the Valley in knit form is a stunning feather and fan lace stole with a keyhole near the neckline that lets you pull through the opposite corner to get the perfect fit. The picot bind-off reminds me of the dripping bells of the lily of the valley flower, too. It is such a sweet design for sweet-smelling inspiration.

Just a short drive south from my hometown, the Finger Lakes region of New York is known for its spectacular wines, and the roads are lined with grapevines. My family hikes each fall along Seneca Lake, the deepest of the Finger Lakes, and when we’re done hiking we visit several of the local wineries. Miles Wine Cellars, Anthony Road Wine Company, and Ravines Wine Cellars can’t be missed when we’re in the area. The cooler October and November temperatures of our fall walk call for an accessory like Yumiko’s Grapevine fingerless mitts. They’d easily transition from the old Outlet Trail in Penn Yan to the wineries’ tasting rooms.

These are just a few ways I can bring a bit of my local scenery into my knitting. Do you have a favorite flower or plant you’ve turned into inspiration for a FO? Share it here in the comments or #Outspiration on social media. We’d love to see it!

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

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