Kiyoko Sakurabayashi



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'Autumn Countryside'


Materials: linen, cotton, silk, wool, polyester, rayon, tiered cloth, vegetable dyed cloth.
Techniques: Hand Knitting
Size: H 70cm x W 55cm
Date Made: 1994

I was inspired to make this piece by the great variety of yarns with all their different qualities, colours and textures,. The overall colour selection was based on images of an autumn view in the countryside. Various rich autumn colours, the smell of earth, a steady way of life - these are deeply held memories from my experience of the countryside during my childhood.

Starting without any formal plan or even a choice of knitting method, I simply picked up my favourite yarn and started to knit. My entire attention was focused only on the colour of each stitch. I soon realised, however, that even the colour from a single stitch could exert far too strong an influence on the surrounding stitches, standing out so much that the overall appearance would become completely muddled.

In order to bring calm to all this confusion, I layered threads on top of each other and teased out some threads, whilst hiding some threads beneath others. The result was rather effective. The complex movements of the threads helped to blend them together as one structure, and gave extra dimension to the original colour of each stitch. 
I was thrilled to discover this method, which seemed to offer endless ways of combining many different colours together. I carried on knitting, as usual paying only attention to the colours, stitch by stitch, as if the yarns were talking to me, giving me their guidance.

It was a wonderful surprise for me to see a relief pattern emerging, quite accidentally, as a result of those complex movements of yarn on the surface of my knitted piece. Its textures and its weight in my hand also felt very good. Throughout all the stages of my knitting I spent more time looking closely at my growing work than I spent looking at my moving fingers. This moment is the happiest time for me throughout all the processes of my making.

The following methods were used in construction:

I made a full-sized paper template in the shape of a waistcoat. My guiding rule, however, was to 'cast-on whenever I liked'. I chose my favourite yarn, guessed the number of stitches, and kept on knitting until I felt I had done enough. At this point, I would cast-off or leave it for the meantime. I measured the knitted piece against the paper template of the waistcoat, and spent some time thinking how and where I would use this piece. I managed to put the pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, manipulating positions, filling in any missing parts, and completing both sides. When I put these two parts together the end result was far from being the 'Celebration of Harvests in Autumn' I had intended, as somehow the back section made the front section look much darker and heavier. In order to improve this rather messy result, I picked up a cloth from my stock of materials, which I had previously dyed with onion leaves. I painted Chinese Calligraphic Characters all over its surface using brush and Indian ink, and dyed the whole thing once more using onion leaves. I replaced the knitted back section with this cloth, and 
I think this helped to capture that autumn atmosphere, with the smell of earth in countryside, that I was trying to express.