It’s the 80’s again. When it’s this good, who can resist?

I’ve been revisiting my other design idol, Jenny Kee.

In the late 80’s all chic Australians who came to visit us in Los Angeles were wearing Jenny and her partner Linda Jackson’s designs, so a trip to Sydney had to include their shop, Flamingo Park. Linda made beautiful hand printed fabrics.

They were both inspired by their environment, Australia, in all its unique beauty: wildlife, trees, colours, and Aboriginal art. The vest above is worn over Linda’s fabric.

The images  here are from two of Jenny’s knitting books, Knits from Nature and Winter Knits which were published in 1988 and 1990. [ if you’d like to know which design is in which book, email me and I’ll be happy to look it up]

Masks. I was given this and wore it for years. Where oh where is it now?

Barrimundi makes me want to throw out everything I’m working on and start over.

Flying Oz knit by Jenny, skirt and head scarf by Linda.

Barrier Reef. Love the skirt!

Jenny has always been a conservationist and hopes that her inspiration from nature will inspire others to preserve the natural environment.

Didgeridoo, inspired by the Aboriginal instrument.

For something just as exciting and available to buy now, check out Minneapolis designer Annie Larson’s website if you don’t already know her work. These are machine knits. I love them, especially this, this, and this.

Do they make you smile, too?

footnote thoughts:

Kee is extraordinary because, like Patricia Roberts, she was making ready-to-wear that fit right into what was happening in fashion and made the look available to hand knitters.

That said, I’ve often thought that complex designs like these which were so popular with designers in the 80’s might have contributed to the decline in hand knitting that took place in the 90’s.  Although beautiful, they made knitting less accessible.

I admire Jenny Kee for her artistry, colour sense and commitment to her Australian roots. While I’d happily, even now, make “Masks” and wear a Linda Jackson dress under it because it’s timeless and comfortable fashion, these days I prefer to design and knit garments that don’t require row by row concentration, but still have some interesting detail. Luckily for all of us, fashion is extremely flexible these days. The fashion police have been put in their place. You can wear last week’s runway hit with a thrift shop find and be admired for you creativity. In hand knitting, you can make something as simple or as complex as you’d like. Knitting is now for everyone, not just the virtuoso, and that’s the way it should be.

4 Responses to “Jenny”

  1. KarenJ Says:

    These are absolutely, spectacularly mind-boggling! And not for me. My days of knitting things that need concentration are over. Nowadays I’ll take idiot knitsand let the beautiful yarns do all the talking. Otherwise nothing would ever get done. I do do socks with lace patterns but I generally make sure the repeat is no more than six or so rows. Please note the word “repeat”.

  2. Mel Says:

    I agree. Knitting these spectacular designs is not for everyone. I prefer knitting with a small amount of pattern that doesn’t require concentration on every row. But I do love them. Kee is an artist.

  3. Ailsa Says:

    Love this post! I have a tenuous connection with Jenny Kee knitwear – when it was in it’s heyday, I was in my late teens and working in an office. The receptionist used to knit for Jenny Kee.

    I remember seeing her do it at reception – she used to get a big plastic bag of yarns and a colour sketch, and she just went from there. I was not a knitter then, and could not afford a Jenny Kee original. Now I just wish I had have taken more notice of the process, the sketches, the colours!

    Not so long ago, I ran into the old receptionist and asked her about the Jenny Kee gig, telling her I was now a very keen knitter. She said she was still in sporadic contact with her, and she’d recently knit Jenny’s grandchild a blanket on commission – Jenny had looked her up because she claimed that she was the only one she trusted to do the best job.

    Interesting point about complicated patterns causing a decline in knitting as a pastime. I’d never thought about that ..

  4. Martha Says:

    I hope you can help me! I am trying to find someone that can clarify the knitting gauge/tension for the Barrier Reef skirt from Ms. Kee’s Knits From Nature book. The tension for the Barrier Reef Top says: 24 sts and 26 rows=10 cm/4 in in stockinette stitch in fair isle pattern using no. 7 needles. The Barrier Reef Skirt has 30 sts and 28 rows=10 cm/4 in in stockinette stitch in fair isle pattern using no. 9 needles. Why do the smaller needles used for the top produce fewer stitches per inch than the larger needles used for the skirt? The same yarn in used for both projects.

    I am knitting the skirt for a theatrical production and have a February deadline so I am anxious to get started.

    If you can’t help could you let me know who might be able to? I looked for errata information online but couldn’t find anything.


    Thanks so much.

    Sent from my iPad

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