On the recent British census form I was asked about what I feel to be my national identity. After having thought for some time (which included an inner dialogue about the post-Enlightenment construction of Nationhood) I wrote Danish-Scottish. I have begun to cheer for Scotland in international sports tournaments which either marks me as masochistic or Scottish. I prefer the latter. However, you can take the girl out of Scandinavia but she'll always love white walls. And this takes me neatly 'round to today's topic of embellishment.
Being Scandinavian, I am not supposed to understand embellishment. Nordic style is all about sleek design, functionalism, and less is more. I remember reading an interview in my mum's favourite magazine: a fashion designer was asked what her favourite colours were and her answer stayed with me because of its über-Danishness. She loved "white, black, grey, and recently I have introduced bold colours like navy and nude to add edginess." Oh, Denmark. Thankfully people like Julia and Birgitte prove that Danes do actual colours and we do them well.
I digress. But you can see why someone having grown up with Nordic minimalism would find embellishments difficult. When I think of embellishing my knitting and crochet, I approach it like a true Dane: I take away more than I add. Some examples:
My St. James top. The pattern is a simple top-down raglan with waist-shaping. The original pattern called for a bow. I disliked the bow: it was floppy, left a gaping hole in the neckline and looked like a last-minute addition. I wanted something decorative, yet structured. I ended up crocheted three small motifs which I sewed on. I think it works because a) the motifs do not overwhelm the top and b) they are made from the same yarn as the actual top. It would not have worked half as well if I had chosen a different yarn.
Another red project: Red Redux. Another simple top-down project which needed very little embellishment. I found some handmade buttons on Etsy - four matryoshka dolls in red, yellow, green and orange - and that was all the garment needed to look 'finished'. Nowadays I must admit that I think the combination looks .. clichéd .. but at the time I liked the combination of a simple garment and striking handmade buttons. Today I would probably have used different buttons.
Speaking of buttons, they are my perpetual downfall. I have boxes of buttons in my stash closet. I find them secondhand (although this is getting more difficult, damn you craft revolution), they are great holiday souvenirs, and I am being given a lot of them by friends and family. I was recently given my great-grandmother's sewing box which holds a lot of memories and D's mother has also given me her own collection of buttons - a gesture I find incredibly touching.
Recently I have begun using beads in my knitting projects - my Larisa scarf pattern uses beads quite effectively, even if I have to say so myself (note to self: check up on what's happening with that pattern) - and I have also begun experimenting with adding fabric to my knitting and vice versa. I'd love to improve my freehand embroidery too, so I can add small, deft touches to finished objects. I am not talking about Versace-level embellishments, though.
So, morale of the story: I am ambivalent about embellishments but mostly because I am torn between 'understatement' and 'it needs something else'. And I'm a magpie when it comes to buttons.
Find more blogs participating in the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week by googling 2KCBWDAY3. I opted to write about the wild card topic today.