Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Holding Pattern

I seem to have been going about this the wrong way. Literally. And that's why my neckwarmer in progress looks like this:

Aspen, ripped again
My design sketches show a row of buttons on the left, front but it did not fully dawn on me until this morning that I'd been approaching the knitted realization of the sketches from right to left (beginning of row) and not left to right (end of row). The lesson here is that, while you may picture it one way, it cannot be created that way (head > desk).

I've been at this for the past two weeks, in one way or another, with very little to show for my efforts except for scribbled pattern notes (with the requisite strike-throughs) and arrows pointing to other parts of the page. As the yarn begins to show signs of wear after being knit and ripped and re-knit several times, so does my patience with my ability to execute these particular design choices. Oh, and before anyone asks, the first item of business was the creation of two carefully measured gauge swatches.

Could lack of sleep or the pressure and pain behind my eyes be playing tricks on my inner deconstruction vision? If it's not a bout of the galloping sinus crud, my biggest fear is that alpaca released into the air by frequent frogging might be sparking some kind of allergic reaction (cue the screeching "Psycho" violins).

Thus, here the balled yarn sits, gored by a pair of size 17US needles and awaiting new orders. In the meantime, I think I'll knit an adorable little jumper (free Blue Sky Alpacas pattern) for my neighbor's new baby girl. After all, Malabrigo chunky hath charms to soothe the savage breast.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Michigan Avenue Photo Safari

CanCan Mannequin - bodice detail, Michigan Ave, Chicago
There's nothing soft, warm or nurturing in this Coca-Cola can creation displayed on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. But is it creative? Inspired? Of that there is no doubt! From the pull-tab corset to the crimped fan of the aluminum skirt, my mind wanders all about trying to figure out, "What did they do here? How did the artist figure that out? How much ended up on the cutting room floor before this metallic confection emerged?

CanCan Mannequin - skirt detail
Questions, questions. Isn't that the beginning of the entire creative process? The dress forms are the result of the retailers association's collaboration with local artists and design students to create an eco-friendly public art installation that stresses reuse and recycling of materials.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh, So Fashionable

Swatch and Sketch
Yes, I concur. It's been a little quiet on the public side of the blog. I have my reasons, not the least of which is that it's design time once again.

Sketch this. Swatch that. What's the deadline? It turns out that committing to the submission schedules of various publications is hard work, and not a little bit expensive. For one project alone, I've purchased 2,000 beads in 3 different sizes because the yarn selected by the publisher was of a different weight than I originally anticipated. For another submission, the proposal book and overnight shipping to meet the deadline ended up as a not-inexpensive proposal itself.

Then there's the research into color trends, construction techniques and materials. And oh, the brouhaha over contracts, reasonable fees and intellectual property rights. It's a hornet's nest, I tell you. Even for the established and well-known designers, it's hard to make a living. So why bother? Because I'm driven! I get such a buzz from throwing around ideas and seeing them come together into the realm of the possible - even if it's just on paper.

The hard part comes when it's time to write an actual pattern that people will a) want to knit or crochet, and b) be able to use to successfully reproduce your design without pulling their (or your) hair out. I'm learning that pattern writing is an art unto itself, especially since so many things are open to interpretation with the written word. And the software that helps you create patterns, charts or schematics only takes you part of the way down the road. Eventually, you have to do your own maths and instructions, particularly if you're doing something out of the ordinary.

So when do I get to call myself a designer? I ask myself this when, of course, there is no "right" answer: whenever I darn well please? whenever I start to sell my stuff? whenever someone actually buys it or everybody's making it or I have my own knit-along? I'm still on the fence on the answer that feels right to me. In the end, I suppose that's all that really matters.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Would You Do?

If something called Dream In Color "Baby Lace" landed in your mailbox, along with silver lined beads? If you suddenly realized that, if your design IS accepted, you'll have to knit like the wind but you have no pattern? You swatch. With your vague idea and an arsenal of needle sizes as you try to find the right combination to work with your "not quite lace, not quite fingering" yarn.

Edited to add: Great news! Just found out this afternoon that the designs have been accepted for publication! Whoot! I'd happy dance if I could!

Lace and Beads
The color is called, "In Vino Veritas" or loosely translated from the Latin, "In wine, there is truth." Despite my attempts to remove stray bits of cat hair, some found its way into the photo. Ignore those. Instead, enjoy the subtle shadings of the yarn which run from plum to merlot with a bit of claret for body.

The beads are from Beadworks. In the 100 gram vial, they look sort of rainbow-flavored and, frankly, I was a bit disappointed - that is, until I started to place them in pattern using the crochet hook method. I do like this method of beading, mostly because you don't wear out the yarn by sliding beads along the length of it and you don't have to know what you need in advance. Much more advantageous for "sketching" with your knitting, which is how I spent my weekend.

What's on your needles?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sometimes, I Knit

Sadly, for the past week or so, I've been doing everything but. I've done a few more repeats on the ZigZag scarf but nothing that bears a photo update: "Oh, look! It's longer than last time." Yawn.

Aside from the usual blah-blah (doctor) blah-blah, there's been quite a bit of design thinking (and sketching, planning, coloring, procurement) going on. That Ravelry is both a font of information and a cattle prod when it comes to pursuing what I've come to see as possible. Heck, at least it's forcing me to do proper drawings and come up with construction models for the designs. I love how the colored sketches look but can't share them with you. It's that old "first publishing rights" thing.

I did receive a special post-holiday treat that I can share with you. My friend Y stopped by for a visit and graciously let me take her photo as she modeled the hand knits I made for her.

Pretty in pink
Thanks, Y. Rarely do I get to see my gifts in action. You really made my day.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Is My Past My Future?

partial design sketchThere are plenty of articles positing that the way to your adult career passion is through careful examination of your beloved childhood activities. Upon reflection, I suppose this makes a certain amount of sense: did you like Legos? Maybe you'll find career satisfaction as an architect or a builder.

In my own childhood, creativity was the common denominator of things that made me the happiest: writing, reading, singing, acting, drawing, painting, knitting, crochet and clothing design. The ship may have sailed on my becoming a star of stage and screen, but I may yet discover success through some of my other passions.

I can't say what or where specifically, but a friend and co-conspirator may have just dragged me toward a future that I thought was just a dream. The beauty part? This venture relies on nearly all of the things I thought of as "child's play." Here I was, spending years wishing there were more dimensions of "me" in my work life; then perhaps I'd enjoy investing so much time - and so much of myself - in it.

It was less than a week ago that I first said, "Nah, there's no way. Maybe next time.", fully aware that I'd probably concoct some other excuse then too. Luckily, we'd been tossing around a few details of a design idea and just last Thursday, this friend made me believe in myself enough to give it a try. December 5th was the deadline and we made it! Thank Rufus for overnight delivery.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Let's Review

Nicky Epstein Green SweaterYes, the Chicago Bears closed out this terrific season without bringing home the prize. Like our baseball teams say, "Wait 'til next year!"

Moving on. I thought I'd do something a bit different today and review some of the high (and low) points of Nicky Epstein's third book in the series, "Knitting Beyond the Edge". The quick and dirty take on this book? I really liked it from the inspirational design perspective. There are some things that are, at best, impractical and, at worst, shall we say not the best use of good yarn. I know. Eye of the knitting beholder.

Epstein Pink braided cablesAt first, I thought Ms. Epstein would really have to stretch to find material for another book on edgings and embellishments. What I found was not rehashed work from the first two books, but some really original implementations of that work in the cuffs & collars, necklines and edges from this latest tome. The majority of the book's 155 pages is devoted to beautifully photographed cuffs & collars, with corners and necklines occupying second and third place, respectively. Those looking for extensive examination of "closures" (the last title chapter) will be sorely disappointed as this consists primarily of button-band treatments.

Epstein lilac cuff and purple bowsSince one of my goals is to awaken the creative design beast within, I was happy to see quite a few things to enjoy and adapt as takeaways. I've photographed a couple of my faves from the book for this review.

If you're at all uncertain, borrow the book or check it out at a local bookstore before you make the buy decision. That way you'll know if your money will be well spent.

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