merino and angora in a vintage Japanese teacup

Nine Places to Find Creative Inspiration

The Web is a vast, living museum of pictures and viewpoints. Filtering out the noise to find those special people, places, and projects that truly inspire isn't always easy.

I have some suggestions. The following nine sites have the effect of a brisk creative shower. They wake up my senses and help me feel a part of something bigger than myself. As you'll see, some are references, others offer a window into interesting lives and endeavors, and some have nothing to do with knitting whatsoever. I hope you find inspiration, and I invite you to tell me where you go to find inspiration.

1. Every Picture Tells a Story
Pictory is an online photojournalism magazine that features photos and stories from around the world—gorgeous and intriguing shots submitted by regular people who saw something, took a picture, and wanted to tell the story behind it.

In collaboration with Etsy, Pictory has released a beautifully curated collection of photos that speak to the art of craftsmanship. From a woodworker in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to weavers in Tamilnadu, India, to furriers in the Garment District of New York City, it's well worth a pause to look and read.

2. Archival Intrigue
Former Bishop and author of A History of Hand Knitting, Richard Rutt donated his entire library of books, journals, magazines, and patterns to the University of Southampton. His collection was particularly rich in knitting books dating from the 1800s. Lucky is the knitter who can visit the collection in person, but guess what? Many of those intriguing books from the 1800s have been digitized for your online enjoyment. The more you click, the deeper down the rabbit hole you'll fall.

3. Yarnbombing
You've seen the patchwork-covered bus, decked-out street lamps and parking meters, the bright pink knitted tank and the tree covered with blossoms (all documented in Yarnbombing's photostream). Knitters are finding increasingly original ways to adorn the world around them.

One particularly inspiring project comes from Juliana Santacruz Herrera, who has filled the cracked sidewalks of Paris with colorful braided strips of fabric. The interplay of densely packed colors and textures reminds me of both a Klimt painting and early Roman mosaics—which were, coincidentally, often used for pavement.

4. Fiber as Visual Metaphor
This delightfully original natural gas commercial remains one of my most tried-and-true pick-me-ups. When the thermostat clicks "on" in the early morning, you watch as a cozy layer of warmth slowly knits its way up and through the house, winding its way up the stairs, around the napping cat's basket, streaming from the shower nozzle and even whistling from the tea kettle.

The ad captures the very feeling most of us have when we don our own knitted items. If you have more time, be sure to watch this behind-the-scenes story to see just how much time and care went into the creation of that fibery dreamland.

5. Living the Life
Barbara Parry and her husband own Foxfire Fiber and Designs, a sheep farm and yarn company in western Massachusetts. They intentionally left behind a successful but high-stress corporate city life for an equally stressful but far more personally fulfilling life as sheep farmers.

In 2007 she began writing about her daily life on the farm in her blog Sheep Gal. Her writing has an intelligent, conversational tone that paints a vivid, honest, and beautiful picture of both the joys and hardships of the life she's chosen. Her lamb videos are guaranteed to cure all that ails you.

6. British Beauty
Jane Brocket's world has freshly clipped tulips in glass jars on north-facing windowsills, colorful hand-stitched linens, heaps of books you never realized you wanted to read, brightly painted toenails peeking out through blades of grass, and endless scones and cakes and cupcakes buried in a foamy sea of frosting and sparkling with bright candies and gumdrops made so tantalizing that you want to close your eyes and dive right into the photo.

Jane explored this world in her book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, and she generously shares this same quiet beauty, order, and inspiration in her blog, Yarnstorm. It's one of my favorite weekly escapes.

7. Beauty Redux, America Style
Here in the United States, Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner paint an equally dreamy pair of domestic pictures in their blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting. While I already can hear both Ann and Kay snorting at my suggestion that theirs is perfect domestic bliss, they paint a beautiful picture from the outside.

What makes their blog special is its artful blend of keen critical insight and lighthearted silliness. More important perhaps is its inclusiveness. Theirs is not a party you must observe from the curb—you're greeted, hugged, and pulled inside the house with each post.

8. Knitting, A through Z
Susette Newberry has embarked upon a most unusual journey. She is knitting her way through the alphabet, from A to Z. She is creating an abecedarium, which she defines as, "an alphabet that celebrates the letter’s typographic design and the word that represents it." As such, these aren't just afghan squares with blocky intarsia letters. Each is subtle, a deeply researched and painstakingly executed work of art.

9. Just for Today
And finally, Today I Love. The name says it all. Each day (mostly, there have been some gaps) you'll be given a thought, or a quote, or a quick video clip or picture of something inspiring. Short and sweet.

Now it's your turn: What are your favorite daily clicks?

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