Travelogue Knitting

When confronted with a fabulously unique knitting pattern, I've often wondered what inspired the designer. Many times patterns are born from a walk in the forest, a visit to the sea, or some other interaction with the natural world.

Byzantine Pullover by Tanis Lavallée
Fallingwater Hat by Katharina Nopp

Maybe a designer wanted to dedicate a pattern to his or her hometown, or a piece of music that was particularly moving.

After traveling to Egypt, I thought about knitting something to commemorate the trip. I finished a project while I was there—the Bella Blouse—that reminded me of some of the images that I saw throughout the country. The leaves knitted into the trim on the sleeves, neckline, and hem called to mind the natural elements painted on the tombs and carved into the monuments. The Bella Blouse was also suitable for wearing in very warm weather, which was definitely what we had during our tour of Egypt!

Here are two of my favorite patterns, one that also reminds me of my Egypt trip, and one that's inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, my favorite architect.

Inspirational Byzantine architectural detail

First, the Byzantine Pullover by Tanis Lavallée, from the book Knitting Architecture. This Fair Isle pullover's yoke is based on mosaics, which in Byzantine architecture often depicted a religious or political scene or a complex geometric design. These mosaics achieved a glowing effect due to their construction from bits of glass, stone, marble, or gold leaf sandwiched between glass.

Evolving from Roman architecture, Byzantine style emerged from the new capital of Constantinople. Using materials such as stone, mosaic, and alabaster, and new ideas in building, such as domes, semidomes, and differently shaped floor plans, this era is an important stepping-stone to the Gothic style. The art inside Byzantine structures was something very new at the time. Letting go of literal artwork, this style introduced abstract images and combined politics and religion, two things that were rarely mixed at the time.

I experienced Byzantine design in the mosques we toured in Cairo. The mosaics were stunning; the craftsmanship incredible. I felt transported to a different time while gazing at these masterpieces in the colossal prayer rooms of these ancient places.

Katharina Nopp's Fallingwater Hat (also from Knitting Architecture) was inspired by the Fallingwater house in southwestern Pennsylvania, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the most recognized example of the Prairie School of architecture, with its overhanging eaves, long, horizontal planes, flat roofs, and complete integration into the surrounding landscape. Spinning off of the Arts and Craft Movement, the Prairie School designers wished to start a new era of architecture that was distinctly American.


The Fallingwater Hat uses twisted ribbing and eye-catching texture of the alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette sections, creating plateaus in multiple directions, much like the structure of the Prairie School style of architecture.

Fallingwater is on my bucket list. A couple of years ago, I toured Taliesin West, the winter headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It was amazing to see the architecture of the buildings and grounds, and how they complemented the desert landscape. Beautiful.

I hope you'll think about how your travel experiences (and armchair travel experiences!) can guide your knitting. I think it's a wonderful way for knitters to commemorate a fabulous trip.

Like me, you may find something that speaks to one of your journeys in the book Knitting Architecture by Tanis Gray. Get your copy today and plan your trip!


P.S. What travel experience is on your bucket list? Leave a comment and share it with us!

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