Firenze set: the inspiration

So yesterday I released a couple of patterns, and I foolishly promised a “gripping conclusion” in the form of a post about their inspiration. Oh, hubris. Well, I don’t know how gripping it will actually be, but here goes.

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a Renaissance phase. Novels, documentaries, those soft-core pr0n soap operas posing as historical drama so smarty types don’t have to admit to watching soaps (or pr0n): I can’t get enough of them. It’s all in a very dilettantish way, you understand — I’m pretty sure it started when himself bought Assassin’s Creed II, so I make no claim to profound historical research here. I’m mostly in it for the pictures. Specifically, I’m fascinated by the textures: the fabrics, the wall hangings, the carved wooden everything, the metalwork. Okay, and the drama, too. But while watching the drama — and there’s plenty of drama in the documentaries — I find myself pausing the action so I can sketch a bit of wallpaper, or the pattern on a bedspread (for the five seconds it remains on the bed), or a particularly appealing door. I ended up with several pages of repeating patterns that would be perfect for colourwork. Maybe a long, luscious scarf in a simple tiled pattern worked in rich, deep colours. What I didn’t have was a border. A scarf like this would need a border, and it would need to be wide and lush and perhaps a little ornate.

I went to the library. I took out books on Italian Renaissance paintings, and I lugged them home, and I went through them all. And suddenly, there it was: the perfect border.

Pippo Spano, by Andrea del Castagno [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A Florentine painted by another Florentine right smack in the middle of where it was all happening. Perfect. I charted that border and I swatched it and I looked at the swatch and…it wasn’t the border I was looking for after all. The design did look awfully striking on its own, though, so I extended the chart to mitten-and-cowl length and played around with colour and wrote it all up and here we are.

Firenze mitten sm sample back

It’s no Renaissance painting by any stretch, but I’m rather pleased with it. Carol Sunday pointed out that the vines on the cuffs and the inside of the cowl also echo the pattern on the columns in the painting, which is very neat and which I wasn’t even conscious of doing. See?

Firenze cowl vine side


Now to figure out a border for that scarf.

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