DIY op art

Last trip to Texere

Texere Yarns, a rTexere cream yarnather wonderful yarn shop in an old Bradford mill, is closing its doors to visitors soon and becoming an internet-only supplier. I took the chance for one last trip there with a couple of friends and came home with some cheap-and-cheerful cream yarn to knit a summer cardigan with. It’s very fine, probably equivalent to 2- or 3-ply, and I may need to knit with two ends held together. The pattern I’m thinking of using is Adrift, which involves a lot of stocking stitch to produce an all-in-one, top down, draped-front cardigan that can be pinned closed or left to fall open.

I won’t cast on until Stripes Gone Crazy is finished.  That’s taking longer than it should because I had to rip it out yet again, back to the underarms this time.  The five “crazy stripes” I’d spent the last few days knitting all had to go because the cardigan was shaping up to be too long and the diagonal construction means the length can only be adjusted from the top.  Like an idiot, I had made the armhole depth longer without considering that it would lengthen the whole garment.  Being tall, I’m just not used to having to shorten the clothes I make.

Stripes Gony Crazy cardigan v1

SGC v1 – too long

Stripes Gony Crazy cardigan v2

SGC v2

My SGC v2 has just one narrow, non-crazy red stripe at the top and the first crazy one is now red instead of brown.  I will have to make some adjustments when I get to the end of this section because I will have only five crazy stripes, not the six that the pattern calls for.

Homage to Bridget Riley

When I was a student I lived for a year in accommodation that had a number of Bridget Riley’s op art pen-and-ink drawings on the walls. I came to appreciate them and then to take them for granted, in the way that one does when one is young and is discovering new things all the time. Once I’d left I wished I’d made a note of the names of my favourite drawings so that I could look for prints to buy.

Bridget Riley's "Hesitate"


Then, a few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house and saw that she had a small Riley print in the kitchen. This one, called Hesitate. I realised that I could produce a similar effect quite easily with the aid of a graphics package.

How, I wondered, did Riley create her work in the days before spreadsheets and digital art? Did she manually calculate the size of all the dots or did she draw dots onto a curved surface and then paint what she saw onto a canvas?

According to the Tate’s website (Hesitate is in Tate Britain’s collection), it was probably the former:

“The shapes were drawn first using a compass, and with templates for the larger ellipses; the smaller ones were drawn freehand. The shades of grey were judged by eye.”

I played around with a spreadsheet and a graphics package and produced some interesting results by modelling circles on the surface of cylinders and then a sphere.

Op art double cylinderOp art dotty cushion

There’s probably an easier way to do it, by simply wrapping a dotted plane digitally around the curved surface of a geometric shape, but that’s beyond my digital drawing skills. I’ve created an op art Instructable that explains the process I used to create images such as the ones above, and entered it into an Instructables contest. Fingers crossed!

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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