Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Afghans Can Be Works of Art with This Knitter's Technique

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Afghans Can Be Works of Art with This Knitter's Technique

Article excerpt

KNITTING MAY arrive officially as an art form comparable to quilting if Mary Ann Fitzgerald has her way. Fitzgerald has perfected a technique that blends the elements of quiltmaking - women's traditional art form in America - with knitting.

The result is afghans of striking beauty and patterns.

"It's all about color," Fitzgerald says with enthusiasm. "You can knit with color as an artist paints with color."

Seven afghans knitted by Fitzgerald using the modified quilting technique are on display through December at The Weaving Department, a shop in Myers House and Barn in Florissant.

"I'm 60," Fitzgerald says. "I never dreamed I'd become an artist. I'm obsessed with each afghan. I love working with these colors," r saidFitzgerald, who has been knitting for about 50 years.

"Quilts are really the American art form for women," says Fitzgerald, a feminist since her early teens. Historically, quilts have served as expressions of creativity and, for the women who made them, as escapes from harsh lives.

In fact, Fitzgerald was reading books on quilting as an art form when she happened on a 1985 McCall's knitting book that contained a pattern that used quilting techniques. The pattern, by Flavin Glover of Auburn, Ala., was for an afghan knitted in a Log Cabin style, a design used by quilters for more than 200 years.

The afghan itself looked ordinary,although the way it was made represented a breakthrough in the use of knitting as creative expression.

"When I thought it through over several years and researched colors, I realized that I could make quite beautiful (afghans) using the technique," she said. f The method, which she modified, can seem intimidating at first, e but Fitzgerald reassures students in the workshop sessions she has run, both at the Knitters Guild and at Myers House, that it's a lot like driving a car - tense at first but, with experience, an almost automatic process.

For a Log Cabin afghan, Fitzgerald knitted 100 squares composed of rectangles of color, just as a quilter would piece together squares from fabric. Then the knitted squares with finished edges were sewn together to form an afghan lovely enough to use as a wall hanging. …

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