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Two Pointy Sticks and a Piece of String Classroom Exhibit

Two Pointy Sticks and a Piece of String: The Knitted Art of Diane Thomson is an exhibit of intricately made mittens and hats that will be on display in the Ingebretsen’s classroom until the end of April. 

Diane Thomson is a knitter and an instructor at Ingebretsen’s. She focuses on creating mittens and hats in the tradition of Latvian and Norwegian knitting; her work is multi-colored with lively geometric designs throughout. The exhibit’s title comes from a comment Diane made regarding the art of knitting: “It’s amazing what you can do with two pointy sticks and a piece of string.” It’s certainly amazing to see what Diane does with those tools. 

Surprisingly, Diane is not a life-long knitter. She had to knit for a high school class and found it to be “boring and tedious.” Years later, Diane had her first child and she wanted to knit handmade mittens and hats for her new daughter, the way Diane’s mother had done for her. There was now a reason for knitting and Diane found it much more appealing. 

Some of the most beautiful traditional mitten designs come from Latvia. Diane was inspired by Lizbeth Upitis, a designer who makes knitting patterns based on Latvian designs and symbols. The mittens are much more than something to keep loved ones’ hands warm. The symbols convey blessings and prayers for protection. Many pairs of Diane’s Latvian mittens, along with information on the meanings of the patterns, are included in the exhibit. 

Others are from traditional Norwegian patterns. Several pairs are regional designs and one particularly intricate pair was inspired by mittens Diane saw at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Other sources for designs include textiles in British museums, contemporary textile artist Kaffe Fassett, and the Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Diane is generous in sharing her knitting knowledge when she teaches at Ingebretsen’s. She has inspired students to stretch their creative and needlework skills and to become confident knitters. Students consistently comment on Diane’s patience and her ability to explain the complexities of stranded (multi-color) knitting and reading a design chart. Viewing this collection of Diane’s knitting can also serve as an inspiration for knitters. Non-knitters can simply enjoy the combination of art and functionality represented by Diane’s mittens, hats, and wristers.

Two Pointy Sticks and a Piece of String is on display in the Ingebretsen’s classroom through the end of April during regular business hours. Ingebretsen’s, 1601 E. Lake Street, 612-729-9333.