Have you ever thought of knitting illusions? No really. Do you remember as a kid (well, some of us) when you would get those reflective holographic cards that looked like one thing when you had it one way, then were something entirely different when you looked at it the other? Guess what? You can do that with knitting too! As a matter of fact, a friend of mine named Jacquie made an iPad cover that is two colors and plain one way, then when you tilt it slightly, it has the apple logo. How cool is that? If you’re already familiar with Shadow or Illusion knitting, you can go to her blog and get the pattern to knit your own (click the picture). If you’re not, read on to learn the basics and even try your hand at a pot holder.
From the research I have done, it appears that shadow knitting has it’s origins in Japan. Apparently, it has been widely used there for quite some time now and you will see examples of it all over. From simple hearts on a sweater where there were none at first glance, to names and messages on scarves. Shadow knitting, sometimes called Illusion knitting, uses knit and purl stitches and two contrasting colors to create a dramatic illusion effect that is quite mystifying to see. The placement of the purl stitches on the wrong side using the contrast colors gives the illusion the desired effect on the right side. At first glance on the right side it appears to be a series of ridges and bumps, but when you view it at an angle, the design appears. The great thing about Shadow knitting is that it only uses knit and purl stitches so even a beginner can do it. Here is a video showing a basic dishcloth.
The book talked about in the beginning is an excellent resource for learning about Shadow Knitting. Vivian Hoxbro studied the craft extensively and has written an excellent book about it. The book is called Shadow Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro and can be found in most book stores or Amazon and Chapters. If you get bitten by the desire to create patterns in Shadow knitting or want to see what’s out there, there are two groups you can check out. One is on Ravelry and is called Shadow and Illusion Knitting. The group uses the principles discussed in Vivian’s book to explore and push the boundaries of Shadow knitting. Some patterns are freely shared throughout the group and others are available for purchase. There is a link to a website where you can see examples of Shadow Knitting and keep apace with new developments in this area.
The other group is on Yahoo called Illusion_Knitting. It has approximately 1400 members and has been around since 2005. There are dozens of pictures of objects created by members and this is a great place to pick the brains of other members with questions. Just in case you thought Shadow Knitting was simply a tool to make dish cloths and scarves, here is a picture of a large wall hanging. I am sure you will recognize the illusion in the work even though Shadow knitting is very difficult to photography with all the detail in the piece.
There are many more images and designs to see. Check them out and give it a try. Not only is it another way t add color to your work, it’s also a lot of fun!
*UPDATE* - Here’s a link I found to patterns and pictures of some great Shadow Knitting projects you might want to try. Click here!