Illusion knitting is the trickster technique of the knitting world. It can’t be new. Nothing can really be new in knitting, can it? But my first experience of it was knitting Elizabeth Fallone’s Shadow Spider Scarf in Shelridge Farm’s worsted weight yarn. Knitters would say that yarn has a wonderful hand. I knitted most of the Spider Scarf while Steve and I stayed at Insel Haus on Michigan’s Bois Blanc Island during a weekend in January. We were the only guests at Christa and Shelby Newhouse’s wonderful rambling B & B. Christa is a master knitter and regularly teaches or hosts knitting retreats at Insel Haus. We lucked out and were able to take a ferry over from Cheboygan. The winter was mild. The Straits of Mackinac hadn’t yet frozen. Someone on the island needed a piece of heavy equipment so we hitched a ride with it. Had to charter a small plane to get back though. That was an interesting flight, flying unpleasantly low over the waves.
So, the way you knit an illusion is you trick the eye with alternating contrasting colors knitted (and purled) in sets of four rows. When you look straight at the scarf, you see what looks like somewhat messy garter stitch. But look at it at with your eyes scanning its length and the motif appears. In Fallone’s pattern, the illusion motif is big spiders creeping the length of the scarf. Debbie Stoller’s edgy first “Stitch ‘n Bitch” handbook contains Shetha Nolke’s cool Alien Illusion Scarf. You knit, and pretty soon Roswell type alien heads appear, big dark eye sockets and all. Here, in Donna Druchunas’s Hidden Cat Scarf, it’s cat faces that emerge. Fun stuff, this knitting. My version of the cat scarf is knit using Michigan’s own Stonehedge Farm Shepherd’s Wool, soft merino wool spun in East Jordan, Michigan. That’s on the sunset side of the state, not the sunrise side closest to Long Lake. Still good Michigan wool. I’ll imagine some of the sheep grow their wool on the sunrise side. Could be. Could be.