Native American Designs Are Inspirational

Creative crafts including hand knitting, machine knitting, beading, weaving, jewelry making, wood carving, quilting, and painting

by Sharon Nani

Native American Designs are the inspiration for several creative crafts including hand knitting, machine knitting, beading, weaving, jewelry making, wood carving, quilting, and painting. Indian Nations throughout the world have different Native American designs dependant upon their cultural beliefs, traditions, and upon the medium on which the design was applied. It is important to interpret these designs with respect whenever they become the inspiration for your artistic creation.

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The Knit Tree's Native American gallery of Indian Reproductions

Native American Designs are Inspiration for Indian Art on Knits

Native American Designs from Indian Tribes of Northern California

Knit Native Products with Native Basketry Designs
Native Products with Native Basketry Designs

Hupa, Yurok, Karuk, Modoc, Klamath, Wintu, Shasta, Pit River, Hat Creek, Maidu, Tolowa, Wiyot, Whilkut, Chilula, Northern Paiute and other Tribes of Northern California are well known for their Basketry Designs. Basket Weaver’s speak of putting “their mark” on a basket, not a design on their basket. Design names are considered ‘identification tags’ and can be different dependant upon the interpretation of the weaver. The Hupa, Karuk, or Yurok Native American Designs can be Old or New Marks. They are termed as “Old Marks” when it has certain identifying stylistic features and the ‘name’ is known. A popular example of this is the Flint Mark. It is an oblique parallelogram or rhomboid which may be broken by internal zigzag lines or stripes.

See some of Darlene Marshall’s flint designs applied to Baby Sets in our knitted baby clothes category of our online knitting catalog. The knit caps and headbands have various basketry designs along with the flint design.

Basketry Designs of the Tribes of Northern California

Basketry Designs of the Tribes from Northern California
Basketry Designs of the Tribes from Northern California.

As you look around at the other Native American Designs by Darlene Marshall in the Native American Category of our Store Catalog notice that they are all Geometric Designs. Variations of the friendship design, swallowtail design, osprey design, foot design, flint design, stairway to heaven also known as ladders to the sky design, goose design, and frog foot design are a few of the popular geometric basket marks depicted in the Native American designs we offer from Northern California Native American Nations.

You can find a wealth of information about Native American Designs of the tribes of Northern California from some very good books which can be found at Pacific Western Traders: in Folsom, Ca. Some of these are:
• Yurok-Karok Basket Weavers by Lila M. O’Neale
• American Indian Basketry of Northern California, Riverside Museum Press 1989
• The California Indians—A Source Book, compiled and edited by F.F. Heizer and M.A. Whipple

Native American Designs from Indian Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast

Pacific Northwest Salish Eagle Knit Blanket
Pacific Northwest Salish Eagle Knit Blanket

The Pacific Northwest Coast Art is applicable to many Indian Nations ranging from Alaska to Northern California. This would include: Tlingit, Tahltan, Kaigani Haida, Nisga's, Gitksan, Haida, Haisla, Coast Tsimshian, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Oweekeno, Nuu-chah-nulth, Makah, Coast Salish, Tolowa, Yurok, and Wiyot. The Native American Designs of the Aboriginal Art from these regions was highly influenced by their ideas of mythology. Human, animal, spirit and supernatural figures became known through readily recognized symbols. Contemporary Artists get their inspiration from carved masks, totem poles, crests, sculptures and paintings which depict this abstract art with heavy emphasis on heads and faces.

These Native American designs are composed of definite shapes of specific proportions beginning with the formline which is commonly done in black or brown. Formlines can be U shapes and ovoids. Internal designs are often red in color. S shapes are also used to represent certain body parts such as ribs. Combining these different shapes into units form body elements such as heads, feet, bills, beaks, cheeks, ears, feathers, head components , and much more. To the unknowing eye, the art of the Pacific Northwest Coast could look like a puzzle of shapes and pieces. But in reality it is an amazing and incredibly inspiring art of specific meanings. When you learn what the shapes are symbolizing, it becomes easy to see what the design units represent. You can even tell what region inspired the creation, because each region has their own specific styles of the unit shapes.

Pacific Northwest Salmon Design

Knit Pacific Northwest Salish Salmon Blanket
Knit Pacific Northwest Salish Salmon Blanket.

The Salmon Design has different characteristics dependant upon the region. These are harder to depict in a knitwear design where the slight curves and definite lines must fit in smaller spaces with rectangular shaped knit stitches. Common features which are shown is the black or brown formline with the dorsal, adipose, pectoral, and anal fins. Inner designs are composed of ovoids with crescents in head and tail, split U in fins, S shapes and quadron for ribs and spine.

Some great books on the Native American Designs and Art of the Pacific Northwest Coast are:
• Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast, by Hilary Stewart found at: The High Desert Museum outside of Bend, Oregon
• Learning By Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art Volumes 1 and 2, by Jim Gilbert and Karin Clark
• Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, by Jim Gilbert and Karen Clark—found on Ebay:

The Knit Tree Respects the Cultures and Art of all the Native Nations and is Honored to Bring you Designs from the Various Indian Tribes

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Winona Camo™ knit clothing and accessories originated by Bob Fratzke are now custom knit by The Knit Tree
Reproduction Knits with American Indian Designs and Symbols
Authentic Indian Designs by Darlene Marshall include hats, scarfs, headbands, blankets, handpainted knits and more
Yarn Kits with Hand Knitting or Machine Knitting Patterns for Dr Who Style Scarf,
Unique Camouflage Knit Products: Camo Zipper Front Jackets, Visor Caps, camo mittens with deerskin, camo slipper socks and Hoodies
Handloomed Knit Blankets and Dance Shawls with Eagle, Orca Killer Whale, Wolf, Bear and Owl Designs Inspired from the Art of the Pacific Northwest
Indian Dance Shawls with Geometric Hupa Indian Basketry Designs and Native American Visor Caps

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