Posted in design, knitting, knitting patterns, pattern, The Creative Process, The Design Process

What’s in the Hopper

Hi everyone!  It has been a busy week as I’ve been working behind the scenes getting the Passport Mitts pattern ready for general release.

cafe

I’ve been working with the large size to get that motif centered on the back of the hand, and I’m very happy with the solution.  Now to finish up the rewriting and to send the draft to the tech editor tonight.

passport gold

I will announce the release here as well as on Ravelry.  I can’t wait!!!  We’re also having a knitalong in my Ravelry group starting October 1st.  Look for more information here in the days to come!

Although it has taken a backseat for a few days, here is the progress on the Colorwork Tee:

tee

This weekend I will be playing with numbers, measurements, calculations, and ordering some more Sunday Knits yarn.  I can’t wait to move ahead with this!

I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll catch up with you soon!

Posted in craft, design, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process

Collaboration, Inspiration

I’m very fortunate that another designer lives in the same small town where I live.  Actually, we counted four, but that’s a story for another day….  I’m even more fortunate that this designer is my friend and that we love to get together.  We have such a good time chatting about anything and everything, particularly about designing, creating, knitting and yarn.  This friend is Marie Greene, of Olive Knits.

with Marie
Marie, me

Some time back, we started thinking about how we could collaborate on a project.  Could we write a pattern e-book based around a theme?  We set up Google pages and a secret Pinterest page.  It’s one possibility.  Limiting factor: time.

A couple of weeks ago, Marie had a flash of inspiration.  What if we each brought three items and put them together in a collection of six?  Then we each would look at the collection and see what it inspired in us.  I loved her idea!  We would have our own Designer’s Challenge!

It was really fun choosing my three items.  I considered a sea shell, but since we both had already discussed how much we love the beach and the ocean, I decided that would be too easy.  I saw a giant, lovely artichoke at the grocery store, and I loved it, but there were too many days yet to go, and I worried that it wouldn’t keep well.  In our home, we have a fabulous print I found a few years ago at the Salem Art Fair of glass bricks in a sidewalk.  I love the colors and the texture.  Too big.

First I settled on an Art Deco (or Art Nouveau?) vase which was my mother’s, and either her mother’s or my aunt’s before her.  I believe it is from the 1920’s.

My second item was a hand thrown ceramic bowl I found at the Empty Bowls sale.  Local potters create thousands of bowls (last year, 1,400) which are then sold, and all of the proceeds benefit our local food bank.  It’s a wonderful national grassroots movement.  I just love the bowls I’ve purchased over the years!

And finally, even though the huge artichokes were not to be found when it was time, I found a smaller yet perfectly acceptable artichoke for my third item.  Such decorative color and line!

artichoke and bowl

Marie’s items were a plate from the 50’s in a fabulous orange with a fun and interesting white decorative shape, a jar of flowers, which become even more intriguing as we looked carefully at the colors and textures, and a crisp white flour sack towel – local, with orange and blue printing.

I’m so intrigued to find out where our experiment will take us.  What elements will carry through to each of our designs?  What commonalities will our designs have?   I am confident that we’ll each come up with a unique design, and I also know that no matter the result, we are having a blast!

Check out Marie’s blog for her impressions about our collaboration!

Even the vase may provide inspiration!

vase

Posted in colorwork, design, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process

Colorwork Tee Progress

Progress

Photo from Unsplash.com

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made on the colorwork tee design I’m working on.  Fabric is taking shape!

The Sweater

Here is the back of the sweater so far, designed using information garnered from the swatch discussed in What I Learned from the Swatch.  Soon the sweater will transition into the Espresso and Carrot colorways (see end of post).

Colorwork Tee

The sweater front is top secret for now (!)

I’m planning to write the pattern in at least three sizes which will approximate women’s small, medium and large.   As I get further along, I’ll know whether I will be able to add in any other sizes.  If you are interested in test-knitting, please let me know – although right now, given that the unexpected often occurs during the design process, I don’t know exactly when the test will start.  More info to come later.

I’m so excited to see the finished sweater design and pattern!  Thanks for taking a look with me!

Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist
Posted in art, colorwork, craft, design, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process, yarn

What I Learned from the Swatch

A Design Idea and the Right Yarn

I’ve been dreaming of designing a top-down colorwork short-sleeved sweater, filling my Pinterest boards with images and colors that inspire me.  In the spring, I found all the colors I was looking for in a certain yarn line, only to discover that the yarn was spun too tightly for colorwork and that I didn’t like how it looked or felt for this design.

Finally I was introduced to the perfect yarn, Sunday Knits yarn by Carol Sunday.   I’m using her 3-ply yarn, with colors from three different fiber blends, Eden (100% Merino), Angelic (75% Merino, 25% Angora) and Nirvana (92% Merino, 8% Cashmere).  The yarn has a lovely hand, is available in over 60 colors, and is reasonably priced.  All of the fiber blends work well together.

Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist
Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist

A Swatch and What it Taught Me

I wanted to work a swatch to find out how the yarn behaves and to see how the colors would look together.

The first thing that I learned is that Sunday Knits yarn is my new favorite for colorwork!  Look how nicely the fabric lies, even before the fabric was soaked and blocked.

swatchie

Next I learned that if I initially don’t like a color, such as the Rose colorway in the swatch above, knitting lots of it will never make me miraculously like it.  Why did I think that knitting more of that pale pinky-red would make me like it more?  (Just to clarify, there’s nothing wrong with the color, I just wasn’t happy with the way it looked with the other colors.)

Conversely, if I do like a color, such as Bronze, which is the cast-on and is immediately below the blue in the swatch above, even in little bits it makes me happy!

I also was reminded that I really don’t like white in a piece like this with lots of different colors – the contrast is too jarring.  I will be using Sand as the light background color in this pattern.

And finally, basic algebra is still useful!

algebra

I can’t wait to work more on this sweater!  I will keep you posted!

Two Special Surprises This Week

My friend Meg sent me custom-made knit equals joy ribbon.  How special was that?!?  I have some fantastic friends!

knit=joy

A friend at work had two extra yarn bowls (!) and she gave one to me!  It’s so pretty!

yarn bowl

I’m so thankful for the kindness of others!  I wish you all a wonderful week, and may you find or share those special moments of kindness!

Posted in colorwork, design, knitting, knitting patterns, The Creative Process, The Design Process

My Sense of Direction Mitts – A Look into the Design Process

Lovely mitts and photo by Meg.

My Sense of Direction Mitts is a good candidate for looking into the design process, as I can directly connect many of its design features with a specific influence or inspiration.  I am approaching this as an observer of my own particular experience in design.

The Conversation

In April 2014, I was working on this design, the Route 66 Driving Mitts:

DSCN4584

One day after work, I showed my prototype to a couple of coworkers.  One drolly asked, “How do you know which hand the mitt goes on?”  I was of course thinking that it’s worn so that the design is on the back of your hand.  His next question: “Why don’t they put left and right on mittens so you know which hand to wear them on?”  Immediately I wondered whether there existed any patterns indicating left and right.

The Process

Racing home, I went right to Ravelry and looked at the existing patterns.  There may have been one children’s pattern with left- and right-hand labels.  I was so surprised that there weren’t more!  So I grabbed my sketchbook and drew this (please excuse my sketching skills):

DSCN5075

My first thought was that the letters would be like old typewriter keys.

Typewriter by Sergey Zolkin

However, in playing around with the charting, it became clear that it would be difficult to create a nice round chart representing them that would work up nicely.

The next step involved browsing through stitch dictionaries and design books:

DSCN6009

It was in Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 200 Fair Isle Motifs that I found the lovely linked border around the letters.

DSCN4611 (2)

In these books I also found the arrow designs for the palms:

image3 (3)
These lovely mitts and photo by Jill.

Finally, I charted letters for upper case and lower case L and R.  The form of these letters changed very little from the original sketch.

A Word About Color:

The colors I used in my mitts were inspired by this piece of Polish pottery, a cherished coffee mug:

DSCN6836

I also tried the mitts in this color combination, which I did not like at all:

DSCN4902

It Seems to Me

It seems to me that a major part of the design process, for me, is keeping my eyes and ears open: seeing color and pattern in the things around me and listening to what interests and intrigues others.   Then, it is a process of narrowing down what works and what doesn’t work.  Trial and error through sketching, charting, and swatching are part of this winnowing process.  Somewhere along the way in this design process, I realized that I very rarely wear mittens here in Oregon, but I love fingerless mitts and can wear them indoors when my fingers get cold.

Also important in my design process are the questions I ask: Can I make this happen?  Could I design round, typewriter key-like charts?  No, I couldn’t.  Can I make arrows that point in the correct direction on each palm?  Yes!  How can I solve this problem?  That is a question that comes up in nearly every design.

Finally, and this may be the most important element in my design process, is allowing myself time to think and to allow different ideas to coalesce.  Some ideas occur in a flash, like the idea to make left- and right-hand mitts, while others take some time to work out.   And, after allowing some time to pass, sometimes new ideas occur in way that imitates intuition.  But I think the intuitive flashes are disparate ideas that have been working toward each other in my subconscious and finally they connect, as a Golden Spike.  I love when that happens, although sometimes I don’t want to wait!

Just for fun, working on the mitts at the beach:

DSCN4469

Thanks for taking the time to read about this adventure in design!  I hope to see you next time!

Note:  Featured photo (on home page) and mitts by stamura.

Posted in craft, design, knitting

Taking the Plunge

And so it is time to take the plunge and finally start writing…about the creative process, which I find fascinating and in which I also participate.  And about knitting, that wonderful expression of color, texture, fiber, love.  How little I knew when my sister Kathy taught me to knit some 8 or 9 years ago that I would fall in love with making pretty things with string and sticks!

Did I mention fiber?  The yarns now available are AMAZING!!!  There is just no other way to phrase it!  My personal favorites are animal fibers because of the fabulous characteristics of the resulting fabric, including varying degrees of memory (springiness), warmth and breathability.  I love the current availability of breed-specific yarns and will share about those yarns as I encounter them.  We will discuss other yarns as well, including other animal fibers, plant fibers, and even blends.

Then there’s color.  I LOVE color!  I don’t just dream in color, I feel in color.  The perfect combination of colors will lead me to a perfect sense of well-being and peace, whereas the wrong combination…well, the wrong combination can make me feel slightly nauseous!!   I am constantly amazed by the beautiful and amazing colorways now produced by independent dyers…even by larger yarn companies.  

Let’s just say that the yarns now available, taking into consideration the fiber content and the colorways, are a major reason why I started knitting, why I stayed knitting, and why I started designing.

In addition to posts about designs and designing, fibers and colors, you can expect to see a smattering of posts regarding whatever I happen to be thinking about.  Generally those will be related to family or friends, travel and exploring the Oregon Coast.

Thank you for spending some time here with me.  I hope you will enjoy the thoughts I share and that you will feel welcome to share thoughts as well.