What’s in a name?
Names are tricksy and important things. When we named our babies we had a three-part test for suitability above and beyond the regular vetoes that couples get for old girlfriends and jerks from grade 8. We laughed a bit as we imagined our way through the exercise, but we required our names to sound right when 1) shouted from the front step to call the kid back home for supper, 2) whispered by a lover, and 3) being introduced at a party as a judge. It’s an imperfect list, but it covered a lot of ground in three short requirements, not to mention making us laugh.
Choosing a business name was daunting. There is no “Beyond Jason and Jennifer” equivalent book of 15,000 names. I can’t remember the train of thought that lead to Imagined Landscapes being scribbled in my notebook, but I can tell you why I chose it in the end.
I enjoy landscapes as art, and as the starting place for art. I grew up on the prairies and became used to breathtaking space and sweeping vistas almost as a birthright. As well, my father is a landscape photographer. You can see a few of his photos in the preview of his book here: Connecting with the Landscape. I grew up learning to see the landscape as a place that could have a particular section caught, polished, and cherished. The entire family will gather around his latest pictures to debate line, colour, and aesthetics.
I find that most of the time a design I’m working on either starts with a landscape detail, or slowly becomes associated with a place as I knit on it. You’ll notice that my patterns have places associated with them. It’s become the kite string to my design process – both the anchor and the thing that makes flying possible.
There is another facet to the name, a far more personal twist. Like most knitters, I first worked on my basic skills and then started to dream of the amazing sweaters and stunning accessories in magazines and books. I began to knit projects because they were incredible and I now possessed the skills to actually complete them. And then they languished, uncomfortable reminders of tarnished glory in my closet. This was true of shopping for clothes, too. Fantastic bargains and really exciting clothes came home only to languish or make me feel odd when I did wear them.
What was going wrong? I was getting caught by classic traps: falling for the lifestyle in the photoshoot or forgetting what clothes really flattered me.
I needed a way to disassociate the clothes in the store or on the pattern page from their setting and the model wearing them. I started imagining myself wearing them in different settings. Would I feel comfortable wearing this where I spend 90% of my time (ie, at home)? Would I wear it only at parties that I don’t actually get invited to? This helped, but it wasn’t perfect since jeans and T-shirts are an easy wardrobe at home but they don’t necessarily make me feel my best.
I knew how I wanted to feel: casual but sophisticated, classic but with a little twist. Over time, I narrowed the exercise down to a very simple question, one particular landscape that helps me: one street in Wittlich, Germany. It’s my husband’s hometown.
If I can imagine myself in the outfit, walking downtown to go to one of the cafes I love, then the clothes work. A little more dressy than the prairies, a little more special and exotic, but still comfortably myself in that environment? That’s a winner.
So that’s where the name came from. It’s a blend of the inspirations for my designs and the way that I decide if a particular piece of clothing works for my style.