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

The Creative Project from H-E-Double Toothpicks

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.

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

I know that many of you have followed me through the process of working on this design.  I’ve written about it often over the past year:  What I Learned from the SwatchWhat’s in the Hopper2016 – Possibilities…and we have color!Winter RamblingsSweater Surgery, or How I Cut Into my Sweater and Lived to Tell About ItJust a Little SketchYes, I am still working on the Colorwork Tee!, and Colorwork Tee Update.


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.

In grasses, shading eyes (683x1024)
Love this photo from the photo shoot

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!

Posted in colorwork, Knitting Technique, Knitting Tutorial, The Creative Process, The Design Process

Sweater Surgery, or How I Cut Into my Sweater and Lived to Tell About It

Last week I girded up my loins, picked up my scissors, and cut my sweater in half. Done with careful preparation, I survived, the sweater survived – and in fact it was much improved by the process.

The Problem

Here’s how knitwear design works for me: I try something. I like it. Well, except for just one thing. I rip back. I re-knit, and now it’s much better. But it’s not quite right, let me try this other color. At some point, I will determine to knit on no matter what. In the case of the Colorwork Tee, I knit the entire sweater before determining that, although I loved the torso of the sweater, I wasn’t happy with the fit of the yoke and sleeves.

So, I began again, armed with better numbers.  This time, things were much better! The fit was much more flattering.

sweater top
New yoke and sleeves

I’m not even going to show you the old yoke and sleeves, but here’s the section of the first sweater that I loved and kept. I could have continued knitting from the new yoke and sleeves and have knit all those rounds again, but…I thought that I had a better idea…grafting!

sweater bottom

The Plan

The plan was that, using Kitchener stitch, I would graft the top and bottom sections together. It would be an elegant solution that would save both time and yarn.

sweater top and bottom

Careful preparation was key to a successful operation. My motto, to misquote Bob Vila, was “Measure twice, stitch once!”

The Procedure

A Lifeline
~I learned this technique from a sock pattern, Basic Sock by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Insert the needle into the first leg of each stitch.  After the needle has been inserted into every stitch, the yarn can be unraveled down to the needle and the live stitches will remain on the needle.

Placing needle before cutting

Helpful hint for seeing the “first leg” of each stitch: use finger to push out the fabric.  You can see the separate legs more easily. I also find color changes to be helpful in seeing the separate legs.

To find first leg of st

After all of the stitches are on the needles…

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…the fabric is ready to cut:

Sweater surgery
Eek!!!

There was some weird problem unraveling, so I put in a new lifeline a few rounds further down.

Stitchy mess

Now I was ready to begin stitching. For instructions and a cheat sheet on how to work the Kitchener Stitch, read here.

Here, about 3 inches of grafting is completed (to the right of the needles):Some grafting completed

After grafting, there was a bit of a ridge, noticeable to the touch but not visible. Once blocked, though, it was practically imperceptible.

The Finished Product

I’m excited to share some much more professional looking photos soon, but here’s the sweater right after blocking.

Colorwork Tee

And that’s how I grafted 312 stitches and lived to tell about it!

Posted in colorwork, Oregon, Oregon Coast, photography, The Coast, The Creative Process

Winter Ramblings

DSCN9374I’ve just finished up a few days at the Oregon Coast.  I come here every February, as a quiet, restful retreat by myself.  I will often take long rambles, beachcombing,  looking for the beautiful, the interesting or the odd to capture my attention.  City-combing, too, looking for interesting architecture, sculpture, artistic endeavors; flora, fauna, food; less often, because they move and you have to get their permission, people.

A huge chunk of the time here is spent knitting, of course.  Or, now, designing.  This trip, there was a lot of knitting, ripping out, and re-knitting.  I’m pretty sure this sweater now has its course planned out pretty well and all I have to do is just keep knitting…

Colorwork sweater, a previous version which included light blue and melon colorways:

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Even though all of the inspirational palettes I was drawing from included the melon (and orange), I finally concluded that they were not going to work in this sweater because I hadn’t introduced them sooner.  They are in time out and are not even in the tub with the rest of the yarn.  Now I have a plan and will be working the greens, blues and browns back in throughout the rest of the fabric:

Colorwork Tee

There’s much more to be said about knitting on this trip, including the lovely Open Knit time at In The Wind Yarns and some new yarn (!), but that’s subject matter for another post.

Now, back from that little aside.

Within the last year, I started writing this blog, and I set up a Facebook page and Twitter account so that I could let you know when a new post was written.  In the blogging, I rediscovered my love for writing. For many years, it’s been put aside. I thought that since I write correspondence and I’m the Grammar/Comma Queen at work – I thought that because of these things, I was using my love for the language, I was writing.  But then I started writing the blog, and I recollected that, at age 8 or 10 or whatever, I wrote an essay on the results of tobacco use for our little neighborhood club.  I wrote an essay for fun, for goodness’ sake!  What kid does that??  I’ve loved writing all my life, and it’s been very rewarding to pick up the pen, so to speak, again.

It’s true that I don’t have the time to devote to writing that I would wish, and so I decided to post Wordless Wednesday once a week, to keep the blog active when I don’t have the time or energy to write something engaging.  I love photography, and now I want a new camera!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  I appreciate your spending some of your time with me.  Wishing you a wonderful day.  Now, I’ve gotta pack and head back home!

~Carol

 

 

Posted in art, design, knitting, knitting patterns, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Sketches

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.Colorwork Cowl Sketch (2)

 

A sweater sketch

 

Route 66 Mitts (3)

Route 66 Mitts Blue (3)

 

Hat prototype

Timberline Scarf - p

Posted in design, inspiration, Oregon, photography, Salishan, The Coast, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Wordless Wednesday

Beach. Texture. Love.

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.

barnacles

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.

Ebb pattern by Susan B. Anderson

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.sand shadows

Fascinating: an object masquerading as something quite different in nature from its own nature.  shell as leaf

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!

Squirrels

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.

DSCN5820

Lovely, delicious, intriguing, ubiquitous texture:
DSCN4822

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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.

Salishan Cowl

DSCN5050

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.

Posted in Color, fiber festivals, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process, yarn

2016 – Possibilities

The last six weeks have been a whirlwind.  Finally now I’ve enjoyed a few moments to catch my breath, to reflect, and to look forward to possibilities for the new year.  Not to go into too much detail right now, as the upcoming designs are still shadowy and lurking around in my brain, waiting to take form…but I wanted to share with you the palettes I will be playing with…and I’m sure that other ideas will crowd in and push some of these further down the line, but for now, here are some possibilities for 2016.

These are a few of the skeins I picked up at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in November.  I believe they will become a two-color yoked sweater, with the green as the main color.  I haven’t decided whether the yoke will be striped, a stranded design, or some sort of mosaic knitting.  I’m sort of picturing a honeycomb type of pattern using slipped stitches for the yoke – maybe.

yarn haul

These yarns are also set aside for sweaters, perhaps with a lace or cable panel.  I couldn’t decide on color, so picked up both:

DSCN8703

DSCN8698

I also want to experiment with an allover lace pattern for this lovely Shibui yarn.  You can see the ready-to-wear sweater that’s inspiring me in the upper corner.  I may or may not knit the linen and the mohair together.  The colors are amazing in real life.

DSCN8716

And I am so thrilled to be working on the colorwork tee again.  Christmas knitting, among other things, took me away from it.  But I’m back!  And my tension is more even now.  Woot!  I am hopeful that testing can begin on it once I have placed the sleeves on waste yarn and joined for the body.

DSCN8727

Other possibilities: fingerless mitts related to the colorwork tee, fingerless mitts inspired by this design inspiration session with friend and fellow designer Marie Greene, a pencil skirt related to the The Wayfarer Hat and the Passport Mitts, and, possibly, a cabled home decor project using Weston Hill Farm cottage spun yarn.

On a related note, I am hoping to attend Rhinebeck New York Sheep and Wool Festival in October and the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in November.  I have written before on how wonderful fiber festivals are: Fiber Festivals as Travel Destinations.  I hope also to hit the Rose City Yarn Crawl March 3-6 and the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale this summer.

I would love to hear from you if any of the above colorways/palettes speak to you.  And are you planning to attend any fiber-related events this year?  So many possibilities!

Posted in The Design Process

An Online Advent Calendar – Creative, Uplifting

Holly and Snow (2)
unsplash.com, used by permission.

I’m getting into the holiday spirit – and being helped by a lovely, fun and unique advent calendar, the 2015 Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.  A dear friend gifted it to me, and I’m loving it!  It is a downloadable app for PC or iPad, and each day there is something new to unlock.  The theme is Victoriana; the scene, a Victorian village. A Christmas playlist, designing your own snowflakes, decorating Christmas trees, and a game in which you break ornaments are a few of the features I have found so far.  I love the design element of this application – the artistic and creative ways that someone applied her gifts to create something new.  This is designed by a team, actually, but that makes it no less creative, to my view.

I hope you will go check out the demo video.  This is a great Christmas gift idea – very reasonably priced, unique, and uplifting!

Posted in Color

Pantone Announces 2016 Color of the Year

Sarah's yarn

MEGS COWL

Pantone has announced its 2016 Color of the Year: Rose Quartz & Serenity.  The Color of the Year is a big deal for the design community, so expect to see it in ready-to-wear, housewares, paint colors, yarn, even your nail wraps!  Recent Colors of the Year have been Marsala (2015), Radiant Orchid (2014), Emerald (2013) and Tangerine Tango (2012).

For the first time, Pantone has blended two colors, a soft pink and a tranquil blue.

Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

-Leatrice Eisemen Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute

You can even download Color of the Year Wallpaper for your desktop!

What I find interesting are the Rose Quartz & Serenity Color Pairings.  (Scroll about halfway down the page.)  As you know, I love looking for pleasing color palettes.  I think I would throw in some warmer or richer colors.  Hmm…that sort of sounds like a personal challenge!

I have been drawn to these colors throughout 2015, as you can tell by the yarns I chose as prizes for our most recent knit-a-long!

 

It will be very interesting to see what happens with this color combination over the next year.

Posted in design, In The Wind Yarns, inspiration, knitting, knitting patterns, Oregon, pattern, Salishan, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Uncategorized

Salishan Cowl: A Look into the Design Process

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.

The place:

Salishan sign bestI’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:

yarn

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.

shops sign

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!

ITW Storefront II

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.

Map of Salishan Spit, Lincoln Beach, OR 97388

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:

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And these organic shapes and lines:

kelp

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tree skeleton

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.

Salishan in itw window
This luminous Salishan Cowl in the window at In The Wind Yarns was made by Janet

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.