And now for something completely different July 23, 2012 – Posted in: Mondays with Mona

If anyone asks me what I am doing for a living, I’d have to say “I work in a yarn store”. I’d have to say that because that is the part of my work that actually supports me financially. Another part of my “work” is designing knit wear. Now, I’ll have to admit that I haven’t been churning out the patterns lately because I am working in a yarn store that supports me financially and knitting just for fun is great. See the pickle I am in?

Anyhow, I thought I’d let you in on my creative process, that is describing how a design comes into being from the first idea to the end product.

My inspiration comes from a lot of places, magazines, nature, fashion, details on furniture, buttons, the yarn itself…the possibilities are endless. In this case I fell for a particular bright, almost neon shade of pink of the Koigu Merino and I knew I had to use it. Question is, what for?

I have been creating a lot of children’s designs, mostly for my daughter, also for friend’s kids (boy’s, which I find a bit more difficult), and she loves pink. The colour is a bit much for a whole garment, but as an accent it would be absolutely beautiful. This idea has been steaming a while in my head and I finally came up with what I want to do:

I don’t always do a sketch, I’m not really good at it, though it helps me to remember during work in progress what my original idea was and stay on the correct path. Having said as much, sometimes during swatching it turns out that one or the other element really won’t work out and then I have to re-think and adapt. Which is often where the fun is, sometimes also frustration, I won’t deny that.

On to swatching! It can happen that I have to do three, four swatches before I get what I really want, in this case it was fairly straight forward because it is just Stockinette Stitch. There was just the question of getting the right drape and feel of the fabric.
I am using a greyish light blue cotton/viscose mix fingering weight yarn that I had in my stash, if it wasn’t for that I’d go for the “Mandarin Petit” fingering weight cotton we have at the store. This is supposed to be a lighter sweater for when the Summer winds down but it is still much too warm for a woollen garment.

I was a bit impatient with my swatch, as you can clearly see it is not very big. If I wanted to submit this to a magazine for publication I would have to make a larger swatch with lots of details to give the impression of the finished garment as close as possible. This is just for me, I know what I want, a small swatch to establish gauge is enough and to figure out if the crochet edging is going to work the way I want it to. I can already tell I need to play with that crochet edging a bit more, probably use a smaller hook so it is a bit tighter – I’ll leave that, because what I can see here is about what I had in mind.

Some designers sit down now and write a pattern before they cast on. I am structured differently – I am going to calculate the size of the garment according to the gauge of my swatch and go from there. This is going to be knit in the round with raglan decreases. I have in mind to start with about 1.5 times the stitches for the body than needed for the chest circumference of the finished garment, to get a nice A-line I am going to decrease all around, not only at the side seams. I am definitely going to make notes during knitting, then write the pattern after.This means my notes need to be precise, which can be a challenge because when I get caught up in my knitting it happens that I forget to do so.

That is all I know for now. I have put myself a bit under pressure here, because I am sure you are going to want to know how this progresses and turns out – so am I! Stay tuned.

– Mona