Awesome Women · Knitting · Yarn

Why Frida Kahlo Inspires Me

When I truly discovered Frida Kahlo I was at a dark point in my life. I was sick and it was the latest in a long line of chronic, painful illnesses and I was tired of struggling through it. Though I was fortunate compared to many in that I could still (mostly) function with the things wrong with me most of the time, I longed for a life where I didn’t know any pain. I grew jealous of those who never got seriously ill and I began to get bitter.

I’m sure anyone who has been through chronic illnesses will understand that feeling. It’s not one I’m proud of but when your body is betraying you it’s difficult to keep on smiling.

Though I already knew of Frida Kahlo in an abstract sense I didn’t know much about her. She was that Mexican woman with the awesome sense of style and a huge amount of pride. She was that painter with the eyebrow and the facial hair. She was that woman who painted her pain onto the canvas and transformed it into beauty.

Okay, no, I didn’t know that last part until I was sick. I started reading about her and exploring her art and I discovered just how inspirational she was. She had gone through so much pain and suffering in her life and yet she consistently turned it into timeless art that still inspires people today. She did not shy away from herself or her pain; she painted both with equal honesty.

"Block Kahlo Rivera 1932" by Carl Van Vechten - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c03971.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | українська | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−Restoration by trialsanderrors: Frida Kahlo de Rivera, Diego Rivera and Malú Block by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
“Block Kahlo Rivera 1932” by Carl Van Vechten. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

I realised something from understanding Frida Kahlo’s art: pain could be beauty. It did not have to be hollow and meaningless. Though I had no choice whether or not to go through the pain, I had the choice of what to make of it.

Did I want to sit around and mope like so many before me, or did I want to channel all of what I had seen into something better? Frida Kahlo made the answer clear.

Lately I’ve been going through some relatively mild medical nonsense. It’s nothing huge but it’s persistent and therefore tiring, so I’m revisiting the people who have inspired me through my life to keep going when it’s easier to lie down and stop. Frida Kahlo is a huge part of that and when I picked up a few random skeins of mohair/silk yarn a week ago I thought it appropriate that I’d somehow managed to pick a colourway called ‘Kahlo’ without noticing.

Debbie Bliss Angel Prints in 'Kahlo'
Debbie Bliss Angel Prints in ‘Kahlo’. It’s actually a lot softer-coloured than this photo suggests.

This is not a yarn I would normally pick up. I don’t like pink that much and the mohair/silk yarns scare me. Yet I had a migraine and wasn’t thinking straight (or seeing clearly, literally since half my vision was flickering at the time) when I picked it up, and it worked out just right.

Gawd, I love this yarn.
Gawd, I love this yarn.

For the last week I’ve been knitting this yarn into a random tube that may or may not end up being a little stop. I don’t like the way the colours fall in the pictures of other people’s projects, so I’m doing short rows to mix it up a bit. It has the added bonus of looking sort of like one of Frida Kahlo’s skirts, though far more muted. I have many things I should be knitting right now but instead I pick up this yarn and I remember how much she inspires me to be a more positive person.

Do you have anyone you look up to in that way?


8 thoughts on “Why Frida Kahlo Inspires Me

  1. Like you I didn’t know too much about Frida Kahlo, but I always thought what I did know of her was pretty awesome. Having Crohn’s Disease (mild), IBS (severe), and arthritis (mild), I can really sympathise. I often feel guilty for “feeling sorry for myself”, because I know so many have so, so much worse, but like you it doesn’t stop me longing for a time when pain was less a close acquaintance!

    That yarn is so beautiful, and I absolutely adore your knitting style. It always seems so free and creative.

    I don’t have anyone I look up to in that way, but I will definitely research more on Kahlo now!

    Thank you for this wonderful post, and I hope you’re feeling better soon 🙂


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