I am so pleased to introduce my newest design, Willow. I designed this poncho as a sort of “shoulder hug” to keep my shoulders and upper arms warm but leave my hands and arms free. I also wanted dramatic cables and a pretty edging.
This poncho is pretty easy to knit if you have done cabling before. If you haven’t done cables, this is a good one to learn them on.
Probably the most daunting part is constructing the poncho, but I made a little conceptual model that you can actually cut out and tape together to see where to make the two short seams. It’s sort of like paper dolls! I don’t know whether anyone will want to use the model, but I found myself referring to it when seaming my own poncho.
Sometimes seams can be scary, so I put together a tutorial (some written instructions and a 3-minute video just with music, no speaking) here: Cabled Poncho Seam. There’s also a link to the tutorial in the pattern.
Finally, the pattern is 20% off through this Friday, March 22, 11:59 pm (PST), no coupon code needed.
All right! I love this week’s photo challenge! I have wanderlust, and I have it bad. I’ve had it since childhood, when my parents would drive the three of us across the country in our camper from Kentucky to California each summer to visit my grown sisters and their families. I would spend the hours mesmerized by the changing landscape or playing navigator for my dad. Such wonderful memories!
These days I don’t have to travel far to satisfy my need to wander. As you know, if you follow this blog, trips to the Oregon Coast often provide the opportunity for solitary rambles and new discoveries.
However, for this week’s challenge, the first image that popped into my mind was the iconic PDX (Portland International Airport) carpet. Locals often take pics like these when leaving for new trips or when arriving home. The carpet was replaced a few years ago, but if you know where to wander, you can still find a section of the original pattern. This is the original design.
Over a year ago, I was struck – “hit up ‘side the head” one might say – with the inspiration and desire to design a colorwork sweater. Nevermind that I had never designed a sweater. I was confident about the colorwork; not as confident about the construction of the sweater – but I had my reference books, so I was ready to go.
I started by building a secret Pinterest board – a mood board, so to speak. It is now a public board, if you want to check it out, here: Tee Inspiration. Using it as a springboard, I began choosing colors for the tee, charted out a flower, and began swatching.
This blog examines the design process. When I am designing, I’m not only designing and coming up with something that is (hopefully) pretty, but I am also thinking about how my mind is processing information in order to come up with that design. Basically, I’m thinking about how I think while I’m thinking. I believe this caused me some anxiety when the design wasn’t coming together like I thought it should. I was experiencing roadblocks, and I didn’t know why. I do know enough from experience to know that when this happens, I should stop whatever I am doing and let my thoughts go work on some other problem for awhile.
However, at this point, probably 9 months after the initial inspiration, I had too much invested in the design. I felt driven to finish it. Even if it didn’t come out exactly as I had hoped, I just wanted it DONE.
So, I finished it. I finished the knitting, I finished the writing, and sent the pattern for tech editing. Whew, such a relief!
I think it’s telling that what I love most about the pattern are the photos. That photo shoot was great fun and practically all of the pictures turned out well. I also loved being able to use the Kitchener Stitch with this sweater and working with the fabulous yarn.
Still, I don’t feel confident in this pattern. I don’t think it is ready to go out into the world yet. A friend is testing it, and I worry that it’s not going to fit correctly. I know that sometimes those worries are completely unfounded; yet, there it is.
What this tells me is that the pattern needs to go into time-out for awhile. Perhaps I won’t ever publish it. Perhaps more time needs to go by and I need to work on other projects. Then suddenly one day, something will click, and I will know what this pattern needs. In the meantime, I may make my sweater into a dress (with a feather and fan skirt) and add long sleeves in teal. –Perhaps that’s what the pattern needs. Maybe I stopped too soon by making it a tee instead of a dress.
I’ll conclude by saying that now that I have finished writing the pattern, I feel incredible lightness. My brain cells are freed to think in other directions and about other designs. I had felt as if the life had been sucked out of me – and now it is back.
…more to think about in the design process…when something takes over like that and becomes nearly an obsession, perhaps that is the time to drop it and turn in another direction. Or perhaps one must pursue it to its conclusion to learn whatever lessons there are to be learned.
Note: This post was written a couple of months ago, in July. The pattern is still in time-out. Other patterns have been written. Is it time to move on? We’ll see…I’m still considering other methods of construction and other variations for the colorwork sections – kicking those ideas around to see if they will coalesce into something new.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by and to read about my experience with the project from H-E-Double Toothpicks!
Sketches. Used to capture and make more concrete the wispy impressions of design ideas. Or used to convey them to others in a third-party submission. Some of these morphed into something else, perhaps recognizable to you. Others, well, they were just thoughts. A look into a sketchbook.
If you have followed my blog for long – or read my “about me” page – you know that I LOVE the beach. Part of what draws me to the beach is the endless variety of texture to be found there. Especially here on the rugged Oregon Coast, the objects to be found on the beach are richly varied, always interesting. I’m always looking for something unusual, something new, something lovely or striking.
Texture strikes me. It draws my attention. It is beautiful in its order and in its variety. Visually, as light moves over the surface of an object or vista and the eye detects changes in line and shape, this is texture. As light plays over differences in density within an object, and we see these differences, we see texture. And when the eye travels over a surface and, along the way, discovers changes in the nature of that surface, we recognize this as texture.
The pictures in this post were originally published in a Wordless Wednesday in August 2015. There were reasons for choosing these specific photos, so I wanted to revisit them – and to think about the nature of texture.
During a ridiculously long walk along this section of the beach in Newport, which I paid for later with complaining, swollen ankles and aching muscles (note to self: no more beach hikes wearing flip flops!) I was the winner in finding amazing textures, such as those in the barnacles and driftwood above.
And what about these wind shadows? I found them enchanting – sand protected from the wind by small items on the sand blocking the movement of air. This interesting textural phenomenon was all around that day.
Fascinating: an object masquerading as something quite different in nature from its own nature.
And finally, when I was heading back on that Newport hike, I came upon this impromptu sand and driftwood sculpture. Well worth the price of admission!
I finally explored the Salishan Spit in August 2014, after having been curious about it for years. It can be seen across the Siletz Bay from the highway, but I had never been there – I couldn’t even figure out how to get there! Finally I did my research, took the eight mile hike, and was mesmerized the entire time. There was something new to discover every bit of the way, from the dark sand (called “tar sand” by some locals) to a desolate “tree graveyard” filled with sunbleached, craggy remnants of an ancient forest.
When I returned to Gleneden Beach the following February to photograph the Salishan Cowl for the completed pattern, I was reminded again why this place had inspired this design. The organic, curved shapes were everywhere, from the clouds in the sky to the patterns in the sand.
As my eye finds textured nuances like these, they are filed away in my brain under “inspiration.” And some day, hopefully, bits and pieces of them will reconnect and reemerge – as a new and pleasing design.
The 2015 Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival was wonderful! Amazing, inspiring, fun, local(ish), lovely – a great success!!! Held November 6-8th at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, this was truly a first-class event.
I traveled up with my good friend and fellow designer, M.E. Greene, Olive Knits. We had so much fun on our road trip, seeing the beautiful Oregon countryside on the way up and back, and waxing rhapsodic about the entire experience on the way home.
I was fortunate to be able to take three classes. On Friday afternoon, I took Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class, Knit Smart. Stephanie is a kick in the pants. If you have read any of her books, you might imagine that she could be a stand-up comedian. She’s the same in person…she has that comic timing thing down pat. At any rate, the class was an overview of knitting principles: basic concepts that we may or may not have picked up in today’s less formalized approach to knitting education. Most interesting to me were learning about the components of knitted fabric: courses and wales. I was also interested in causes of consistently loose or tight knitting.
…OK, well. My pictures of that class are completely blurry and useless. So instead, I’ll send you to Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s website. Her take on her visit to Oregon is hilarious and spot-on at the same time!
The Saturday classes I took were near and dear to my heart. Marie and I took two classes from a favorite sweater designer of both of ours, Norah Gaughan. Her designs are amazing. I particularly enjoyed slide shows in which she shared the inspiration for many of her designs. The classes were Creative Geometric Design and Knitting Polygons. So much fun! Norah was a sweetie and her classes were such fun, too.
Next, we got to work with the fleece we brought to come up with our own creative design based on geometric shapes. We learned that fleece is great for this because it drapes in much the same way as knit fabric and so is great to use for templates. Here I am – this one is going to have a square neckline.
In the afternoon class, we worked with fun shapes such as pentagons and hexagons. You can see them in the edging of the sweater I’m modeling below. It’s one of Norah’s, which I borrowed just for this picture. I wanted to take it home with me! It fit like a dream. Marie and I were total fangirls!
This festival was no exception! Saturday night there was a banquet, with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee as the keynote speaker. I got to hang out with Marie and these two friends, Leanne and Martha. The four of us met for breakfast Sunday, as well, and had such a lovely time!
Stephanie’s keynote speech was very inspiring, and funny, of course. She began by mentioning the propensity of some to aver that many of us are “addicted” to knitting, yarn, and the fiber arts. As you can imagine, there are many appropro comparisons. But in reality, we knit because we know it’s good for us. It makes us better. We are happy when we have faced and overcome something that is a challenge to us. That’s what’s great about knitting, there’s always something new to learn and to try. It’s also why I love designing!
Finally, here’s my stash enhancement:
I just can’t wait to get my hands into this beautiful yarn!!! Can’t wait to see what it will become!
The trip home was filled with chatter, with exclamations about the inspiration we had garnered from the instructors and speakers. The landscapes on the drive home seemed especially beautiful – sunlight through rain creating such depth of color. So blessed to live where there is such beauty.
And finally, the whole festival was done so well. Everything was top quality, from the venue to the marketplace to the slate of instructors and the banquet. I’m already thinking about the CGFF 2016!
The Salishan Cowl is another pattern which lends itself to a look into the design process. In this case, it was a matter of being immersed in a place as well as spending time pondering the building blocks of knit design, the stitches.
I’ve lived in Oregon for 25 years now, and have known of the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort since shortly after we moved here. I’ve driven by it numerous times, but it wasn’t until last August that I finally stayed there.
When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found that the grounds were quiet and peaceful. The room was spacious; there was a choice of restaurants and the food was delicious. The atmosphere was that of a mountain lodge even though the ocean was within walking distance.
This was to be one of my retreats at the beach, where I spend time knitting, resting, designing. I spent the first few days knitting, taking walks and puttering around. I threw a bunch of yarn (collected over the years) on a table, hoping that color combinations would jump out at me and inspire some designs:
The yarn led me down dead end paths. Perhaps they were dead end at the time and may yet lead to new designs. Time will tell.
As it turned out, though, the inspiration came from the place itself.
The resort is situated so that the lodge, restaurants and accommodations are on the east side of Highway 101. It’s about 1/4 mile walk from the rooms to the highway, which you cross to the golf course, spa and shops.
There’s even a lovely yarn shop in The Shops, In The Wind Yarns. It was new to me then, but now it’s a must-stop place whenever I go to the Coast. I love to visit and see all the new things they are working on and what new yarns they’re bringing in. There’s always something fun going on!
But I digress! At last I was going to explore the Salishan Spit, which I had always been curious about. Viewing across the Siletz Bay from Highway 101, there is a thin slice of land with houses on it. How does one get there? During my stay, I learned that The Spit is accessible by car only to residents of the gated community or to guests of the resort. Otherwise, it may be accessed by foot on a trail which begins next to the shops and golf course.
It’s a long hike to traverse the length of the spit. As I approached the end of the spit, I turned a corner and was shocked to discover that we had black (or dark gray) sand on an Oregon beach! It was one of those amazing moments when you find something completely unexpected. I had absolutely no idea we had a dark sand beach in Oregon.
You can see the dark sand over the light here:
And these organic shapes and lines:
It was all hauntingly beautiful.
The building blocks:
Also during my stay at Salishan, I spent time poring over my stitch dictionaries. One stitch in particular, the Japanese Feather, struck me as very beautiful and elegant. An added bonus: as far as lace stitches go, it’s pretty straightforward and easy. And it’s apparent to me that my subconscious zeroed in on that stitch pattern as a representation of all the lovely lines and shapes I had seen during my wanderings – even including that “S” in the Salishan signs.
The process and the pattern:
During the next six months, the impressions from Salishan and the thoughts of that stitch remained with me. Sometime in December of 2014 or early January 2015, I found the perfect edging for the cowl: the Herringbone Stitch. It would create a pleasing contrast of a highly structured edging with the organic shape of the Japanese Feather. Additionally, it was a stitch that wasn’t being used by a large number of designers, so it would create a unique look. And finally, it’s a fun stitch to work, albeit time consuming.
The pattern also includes the option of working a Seed Stitch border. It is easier and quicker than the Herringbone Stitch border, and it still creates an elegant look.
Worked in Malabrigo Silky Merino, this cowl just floats! It also is lovely in Rowan Felted Tweed.
This design is really one of my favorites. Not only do I feel like a million bucks whenever I wear this cowl, but I have the treasured memory of finding this beautiful and unexpected, somewhat hard-to-reach beach, which I hope to visit many, many more times in the future.