Mystery House



Design Lab: Sort of an Idea

Everyone had great thoughts about how to get started with a design.  Just a few:

Olga says that she keeps a file of paint chips and pictures torn from magazines, and uses it as a source for ideas.  Love that!  Frarochvia starts by dreaming up what she wants and then finding yarn that works, rather than the other way around.  I wish I was so organized, but I’m way too nonlinear to do it that way!  Bezzie locates her ideas in one of the places where I often find them, too:  the shower.  What is it about water hitting your head that causes brilliant ideas to form?

Inspiration comes to me in many different ways including the shower, and dreams, and colors or shapes or textures I’ve seen somewhere, but no matter what, once I have the seed of an idea I tend to start with a “sort of.”  As in sort of an idea of what I maybe sort of want.

This time, I know that I want a wrap or scarf of some kind.  I know that my patience with cotton yarn is limited, so complex stitch patterns are out.  I know that I have about 400 yards of Millefili Fine and a pile of vintage buttons (more of which were acquired at the antique show on Friday).  I know I want a finished piece that’s simple in design, but a wee bit dramatic.  Can I do this, you think?

The first thing I do is try out the yarn.  Play with different needle sizes and stitches.


Messy, isn’t it?  I generally make one run-on swatch, like a run-on sentence only with yarn.  I start with whatever size needle seems appropriate, then change to another, another, another until I find one that feels right.

Because swatching is boring, I don’t take the swatch very far.  As soon as I’ve figured out what my starting point should be, I launch into the real knitting.  Crazy, perhaps, but I’d rather make a dozen false starts with an actual piece of knitting than do half a dozen swatches.

There’s often some sketching at this stage, too.  Vague sketching.

I’m liking the garter stitch so that’s how I’m going to start.  But enough with the swatch.  I love the U.S. size 8 needles (beautiful Lantern Moons that the M.E. gave me for Christmas last year) with this yarn and I have a sense for approximately how wide the end of the piece should be, so I’ll just get started and see what happens.

I’ve got about five stitches to the inch, and 13 inches wide sounds good, so I’ll cast on 65 stitches.  Hmm, what if I twist the garter stitch, just for fun?

Nice.  The twist is subtle, but it gives the fabric an interesting quality and makes it look a bit tidier than plain garter in this yarn.

At this stage, I use a row counter because I have no idea yet whether I’m going to measure my shaping by rows or by inches.  Counting as I go keeps me from having to go back and figure out what I’ve done after the fact.

What’s next?  Well, I have a decision to make.  I’m going to have to start some shaping fairly soon, and I have to figure out what it’s going to be and when to start it.  That means I set my knitting aside and let the idea cook for awhile…

And you?  Anyone working on a design right now?  How’s it going and where are you in the process?

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Comments

  1. * Connie says:

    I really like the twisted garter. You have way more patience than me for design. I do “wing” it for certain projects and usually “eyeball”, not measure.

    Posted 10 years ago
  2. * Connie says:

    I really like the twisted garter. You have way more patience than me for design. I do “wing” it for certain projects and usually “eyeball”, not measure.

    Posted 10 years ago
  3. * bezzie says:

    I’m very impressed with your planning skills. For most stuff I just jump right in. But this is why I can never recreate something I design very well.
    Cold fish? Jumped right in and did it. Cat doobie? That was pretty easy to design, but still, jumped right in!
    I can’t wait to see your final product!

    Posted 10 years ago
  4. * kmkat says:

    I like the twisted garter stitch. And I generally don’t like garter stitch at all, so that is saying something. Yours seems to accentuate the sheen of the yarn — quite lovely.
    Sketching a design is such a good idea, but I’m miserable with drawing. But recently I had an idea: I’ll trace the shape of a basic sweater from a photograph and use that as my base. Instant outline, ready to modify and/or color in.
    Yup, brilliant. Lame, but brilliant 😉

    Posted 10 years ago
  5. * kmkat says:

    I like the twisted garter stitch. And I generally don’t like garter stitch at all, so that is saying something. Yours seems to accentuate the sheen of the yarn — quite lovely.
    Sketching a design is such a good idea, but I’m miserable with drawing. But recently I had an idea: I’ll trace the shape of a basic sweater from a photograph and use that as my base. Instant outline, ready to modify and/or color in.
    Yup, brilliant. Lame, but brilliant 😉

    Posted 10 years ago
  6. * bellamoden says:

    As a person who basically works out a design before I even cast on (or will stop at the point where I feel uncertain) this post is nearly too painful to read! Hee.
    I’ve learned I approach writing and design and dyeing all the same way, insofar as I see it, know the effect I want and how to do it, before I do a single thing.
    Like, with Fanny Hill, I knew I wanted a color effect that was both muted and shocking, with the pinks working in counterpoint against each other, because I was interested in how butting them together changed perception of their color qualities, and I thought that would work well with the texture. That determined the color selection, and the dyeing method.
    Am I making sense?

    Posted 10 years ago
  7. * bellamoden says:

    As a person who basically works out a design before I even cast on (or will stop at the point where I feel uncertain) this post is nearly too painful to read! Hee.
    I’ve learned I approach writing and design and dyeing all the same way, insofar as I see it, know the effect I want and how to do it, before I do a single thing.
    Like, with Fanny Hill, I knew I wanted a color effect that was both muted and shocking, with the pinks working in counterpoint against each other, because I was interested in how butting them together changed perception of their color qualities, and I thought that would work well with the texture. That determined the color selection, and the dyeing method.
    Am I making sense?

    Posted 10 years ago
  8. * Chris says:

    Now I have to think more about what I do when I design. I’m nowhere near as freeform as you are! That probably doesn’t surprise you. 😉

    Posted 10 years ago
  9. * Chris says:

    Now I have to think more about what I do when I design. I’m nowhere near as freeform as you are! That probably doesn’t surprise you. 😉

    Posted 10 years ago


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