On Breaks & Fresh Perspectives

What a crazy past few weeks!

Although much late, I do wish to say I hope everybody had a lovely holiday season. Mine was busy (but good), and the past few weeks I’ve been down for the count with various minor ailments that have been taking up far too much of my time an energy – capped off by a wicked head cold that completely thwarted all my attempts to knit (damnit).

I am very happy, however, that in December (and a bit into January) I decided to take a few weeks off from designing and instead, focused on knitting some other designer’s patterns.

The first, and my official entry into the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-A-Long was the Stranger Things Cowl by Mary Annarella. I love this thing! It’s so lovely and warm, and the design is incredibly fun. I knit it with Drops Alpaca, which is a little fuzzy for a stranded pattern, but the feel of it is heavenly. It’s so much fun to wear, and fans of the show immediately get it.

I ended up using 225 yds of the light grey and 206 yds of the dark grey. Why 20 yards less when both sides are exactly the same? Who knows, it’s one of those mysteries.

The second project I made up was Ella Austin’s Leighton House Handwarmers. Again, I used a slightly fuzzier alpaca – I really have to stop doing that for extremely fine stranded patterns. But the siren call of soft warm alpaca is something I can’t beat. However, when I knit this pattern again (which I will), I will go with a yarn that affords a bit more stitch definition, so I can really do this design its justice.

What I loved most about this pattern (besides just how plain beautiful it is), is although it’s extremely finely detailed, the repeats are very easy to remember. For the yarn I used Scheepjes Alpaca Rhythm in three colours: the light blue (cuff and Latvian braids) I used approximately 26 yards, for the dark blue on the hand I used about 61 yards, and for the whitish main colour I used 96 yards – leaving more than half the balls. I could easily knit up another pair without purchasing any more yarn!

So as you can see, I’ve been on a bit of a stranded kick lately.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on my own patterns. After a few weeks break I came back looking at a few projects fresh, which is exactly what they needed, and jotted down ideas for a few more. I even came up with a long-form multi-release project, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but couldn’t quite nail down exactly what I wanted to do.

Sometimes mini-breaks are all you need to clear the cobwebs out. Gives you a fresh perspective on something that otherwise you’re starting to run circles around.

Can’t Talk, Must Knit

You know, it’s amazing how something can seem to hard and then all of a sudden it’s like flood gates open.

I wanted to design for years. YEARS.

But whenever I sat down and tried to do something it was like getting blood from a stone – nothing would come out. I had somewhat resigned myself to never designing, which annoyed the hell out of me, because I’m stubborn and don’t like to not accomplish something I set my mind to. But it just seemed like there was nothing that both worked and I liked that could come out.

Then, in March last year my sister wanted a shawl for her birthday, and after what seemed like million years, I finally had designed my first pattern.

Apparently, all I needed was to get over that initial hump, and Heather June was not an easy hump to get over. Since then I’ve learned (from the more experienced designers out there) that there are things to try and avoid designing on your first attempt – almost all of which I did (crazy math, and making stitch counts that don’t want to fit together blend, being the most frustrating). But, maybe that’s exactly what I needed (and also why it took four months to complete), because after Heather June, I feel like I’m up for anything, which is an extremely liberating.

Now the problem is, I don’t have the physical ability to knit as fast as I seem to be designing.

I have three patterns on the go right now – one on the brink of completion (Hilton’s Edge), another in the process of being tested, another one that’s 50% charted, and then I have at least three more ideas that I’m just itching to start charting and knitting.

I’m taking a bit of a scattershot approach because I’m excited, but I think I need to step back and take it more one at a time, otherwise I’ll just get nothing done.

And then I have this:

Hearthside Fibres - Caribbean colourway

Larry and Lael of Hearthside Fibres made this insane (insane = good) colourway, appropriately titled ‘Caribbean’, in their Champagne Lace which is 80% merino and 20% silk. It is wonderful, and I’m designing something special just for it.

So there’s another thing I have goings-on for as well.

The problem that is now arising is of course, there’s only so fast my fingers can work. I love the process of knitting and creating the thing.

It’s not so much that I want to have something completed so that I can wear it (in actuality, I give a lot away), but I am absolutely hooked on the satisfaction of creating that item. The satisfaction of having it begin as only a nebulous idea, working through the construction of it, and then finally having a finished thing that I can say “yes, I really created this”.

That’s really what I’ve discovered about creating patterns, it’s not having finished project for me. It’s the satisfaction of having a tangible idea in my hands, but knowing that it all started with only a vague notion in my head.