Upside-down Knitting In Picturebook Illustration

School Library Journal (Betsy Bird) posted an article about knitting as depicted in picture books — so often the knitting needles are coming out the top, whereas if you’ve ever knitted in real life you’ll know that the needles come out below the hands.

This is a wonderful observation, and once you’ve noticed it you’ll see it all over the place.

illustration by Takeo Takei
illustration by Takeo Takei, dating from the 1920s, Japan
Governess by Louis Wain (1860-1939)
Governess by Louis Wain (1860-1939)
Anne Anderson (Scottish,1874-1952) My Short Story Book
Anne Anderson (Scottish,1874-1952) My Short Story Book
DEVINEZ L'ALPHABET (1868--colored version, 1978) Théophile Schuler knitting
DEVINEZ L’ALPHABET (1868–colored version, 1978) Théophile Schuler
Midnight glove knitter in 1958. Al Parker,1906–1985 knitting
Midnight glove knitter in 1958. Al Parker,1906–1985
Georgios Iakovidis (1853 - 1932) knitting
Georgios Iakovidis (1853 – 1932) In this painting gran has taken a break from her knitting.
Mela Koehler (Austrian, 1885–1960) knitting
Mela Koehler (Austrian, 1885–1960)

OTHER INSTANCES IN WHICH REALISM IS MODIFIED

Raindrops

There are instances, however, where a realistic portrayal of nature isn’t necessarily warranted. Raindrops are actually round when falling from the sky, but in the collective imagination a raindrop is, well, ‘tear drop’ shaped. Where does the teardrop shape even come from? Probably from the leg of moisture coming off a droplet as seen when running down a surface such as a cheek.

Raindrop
round droplet from Midnight Feast
round droplet from Midnight Feast

See also: Animating A Droplet Of Water

Big Walking Legs

You don’t see this so much in modern books, but it seems children of yesteryear marched everywhere. Could all of that marching in school have carried over into real life?

weird walking

Manic-Enthusiasm

I can’t find the credit for this image and it may be a pie advertisement for all I know. But we haven’t really seen these facial expressions since the 1970s Ladybird books.

manic enthusiasm

SEE ALSO

Sewing, Spinning and Weaving in Art and Illustration

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