When I was a kid I thought that fabric like printed plaid was cheating. Plaid, after all, is supposed to be woven from different color threads. Printing a plaid design onto plain, white fabric just seemed wrong. Then I got to art school and what did I do? I screen printed plaid onto five yards of linen fabric. What was I thinking?
What happened? Had I lost my mind? Well, maybe. But on the other hand, I have also been fascinated with knitting that looks like weaving, including knitted plaid. Seems like I have a habit of wanting to make one textile look like another. And what have I discovered? It is harder than I thought.
Case in point – the great thing about woven plaid is that it looks like more colors than were actually used. A simple black and white check looks from a distance like it is black, white and gray. Or if you weave it in an unbalanced weave, like a 3/1 or 1/3 twill, the simple black and white check will look like it is black, white, light gray and dark gray. Cool, huh? This way you can make cloth that looks more colorful than it really is, which is quite the advantage when dyes were hard to come by.
So how do you replicate this in another textile design? For a knitted plaid you could use black, white and gray yarn to mimic woven check. (But that tends to result in the dreaded intarsia. Ick.) But gray yarn doesn’t look quite look the same as black and white threads crossing. Maybe use a tweedy gray that is spun with black and white fibers. Or alternate black and white stitches for the gray squares, twined knitting style. Or carry black and white yarns together for the gray. See, not quite so easy.
After years of contemplating ways to make knitting look like a woven pattern why not go a step further and make a printed fabric design that looks like knitting? Here is my first (successful) attempt:
This turned out way better than I thought it would! I actually knit a bag with this pattern and colorway first (which I will show a picture of when the sun comes out again – which is roughly July around here😊). I can’t believe how much the print looks like the real thing. So of course I had to try another one:
You may have to zoom in to see it, but both of these are made up of a gazillion tiny little knit stitches. Thanks to the handy custom brush feature in my drawing software I now have a special stamp that looks like a knit stitch. I haven't done a purl stitch stamp yet so I guess that may be my next trick.
Later I will have to tell you about my attempts to draw a pattern that looks like free hand machine embroidery...