Knitting and Designing: projects, processes and reflections

It has been quite a week or so of admin, teaching prep and knitting plans – including a few late-night finishes!  Yesterday I treated myself to a day out with a friend and went over to Peter Jones, Sloane Square, for a coffee morning featuring Kim Hargreaves’ latest book, Smoulder.  I am a huge fan of Kim Hargreaves, especially since she left Rowan to go solo, and have been keeping up with her ever since.  Naturally, Smoulder found its way onto my doormat last Saturday and during a break I took the opportunity to admire the collection and whittle it down to my must-knits/wish list.  The fact that there are only two is down to serious discipline and realism about what I can squeeze into my spare time!

ColoursForLola1First up is the lovely Lola sweater.  It is knitted in a new yarn, Angora Haze, but I have decided to substitute some Kidsilk Haze/Fine Lace from my stash and keep the angora for the contrasts.  Everybody’s different, but I found the angora uncomfortable to wear when I tried the jumper on at the coffee morning.  That was the only drawback though!  The fit was brilliant, which is typical of a Hargreaves design, and despite the 8-inch height difference between my friend and I it suited us both.  I realise that pictures would be useful at this point, but we were far too busy having fun, trying things on and chatting to some of the other lovely ladies who’d come over for the morning!

Another favourite is Connie – I love a cosy chunky cardigan.  I would probably make this in the Alpaca Chunky rather than the Big Wool for extra snuggliness, but it’s definitely one for the wish list.  Lastly Izmir from Rowan 54 surprised me; I’d gone straight past it when I first looked at the magazine, but having seen it modelled by another lady I gave it a go.  It was very flattering and the colours were well chosen to suit everyone.  It looks as though it’ll be the season of the cardigan for me – a couple of last winter’s projects have been waiting patiently for me to finish them, namely Amy from Kim Hargreaves’ Quirky and Bute from Rowan 52.  Hopefully they’ll be ready in a few weeks.  I’ll be posting details of their progress on my Ravelry page.

MyHomeOffice2 MyHomeOffice1Speaking of deadlines, there have been a few self-imposed ones.  I have spent quite some time in my little home office, a space in the spare room that I’ve hollowed out for myself.   Part of the time has been spent preparing teaching materials for a couple of new workshops, Crochet Motifs and Finishing Techniques (4th November – this will be on the Sew Over It website shortly), and the rest has been spent designing.  I am really looking forward to teaching these classes, especially the crochet one, and seeing how people respond.  So far it has been amazing to see how quickly people have learnt to crochet in classes like these, not least to themselves!  For this class I’m planning to introduce people to some textured stitches and show them how to create different shapes and add colours when working in the round.  I think crochet has a bright future because it is more fluid, results are achieved more quickly than with knitting, and when spare time is at a premium that is a blessing.  For me, it is nice to switch between the two when I am busy making things.

As for designing, I cannot show you too much, but I will share some of the colours and yarns that I have been using.  Wintry, aren’t they?  Thankfully most swatching has been done and I can move onto making things up.  So far, this part has been difficult – the level of self-absorption has felt a bit toxic.  I don’t mean to say that I haven’t enjoyed it, not at all.  What I mean is that the process of knitting something you’ve designed yourself feels like an overload – to me, anyway.  It is not being made with neutral hands because the to-ing and fro-ing, inspiration, experimentation and frustration are somehow knitted into the final piece: it has been with me from its very genesis, and in seeing it metamorphose, I have seen myself and the realisation of my creativity do exactly the same thing.WinterRainbow  It has been simultaneously intriguing, ugly and beautiful.  I have found the courage to design, and had no expectations or preconceived ideas about the process, but feel the need to collect my thoughts after diving in.  In one way the skills gleaned from academic training has made some processes easier, but the differences between articulating ideas on paper and knitting up a design have made me think deeply.  As ever, part of the issue is that it’s a completely new experience, and I need to adapt – but I also need to learn.  Part of it, I suspect, is because intellectual ideas are more abstract and the primary mode of communication is verbal, maybe with diagram or so.  Creative ideas engage with the senses in a more visual, sensory, tactile way; there might be an introductory paragraph or two explaining the inspiration or concept, but no more.  Communication and engagement must be seen, felt, and ultimately tangible.  I guess it is the tangibility or physical realisation of an idea – it has become an object in the real world, a reflection of the self from within.  I’ve found it fascinating, but I can see how one might get lost, consumed or absorbed.  At the moment I don’t know if I could design full-time, at least not on my own.  There are far too many other beautiful people, places, activities, things and ideas in the world for me to enjoy rather than being overly preoccupied with anything in my imagination!

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