Monday, January 05, 2009

Design Process

I am fascinated by the creative process. One of my favorite things is to spend an afternoon reading about how writers write: What routines they have, what their workspace is, what music they listen to, how long their sessions are, if they have waterproof notebook and pen in the shower for moments of inspiration...
Knit/Crochet designers likely have as many differences as writers, but I have delved less into that area.
I know some who sit down with needles and yarn, make something, frog it back, make some more, then when the piece is finished go back and count their stitches, increases, decreases etc.
That way is not for me. My eyes are such that they have a difficult time following a specific point across a line, which means counting stitches would come out with the wrong number each time.
Others sketch something, do a swatch in their preferred yarn, and, after determining their gauge, write out the entire pattern as they envision it.
Although I often sketch an idea when it comes to me as a memory aid, the rest of that method comes much later in the process for me.
What I usually do is start to make something for someone. I look at other patterns, and if I find precisely what I want, I often make that pattern, pretty close to as it is written. Much more often I don't find exactly what I want, and begin knitting my own pattern, often with just my bare sketch to begin with.
That sketch is the beginning of a journal of sorts. As I look back, every design I've done has it's own mini journal, from start to finish. Mostly once I start knitting the sketch is set aside and the journaling is done on a computer document.
I sometimes have a general idea of gauge after the first five rows or so, so sometimes pause to add calculations to the journal, but many times the gauge comes last. Mostly I know what size I am making, and can later extrapolate out from that for stitch count changes for other sizes.
What I've been working on the past few days are mitts for Sean. He likes room to spread his fingers, and once I got the size of the ribbing down, the rest was just making them big enough for his fingers to wiggle in. But I had an idea of a shape that would work, and look nifty, so I've been working out the best techniques to showcase that shape.
I've finished one mitt, wrote what I didn't like about it and some suggestions to try next time, frogged it, deleted the parts of the pattern in the journal that didn't work, replacing them with instructions for the new attempt to be made the next day.
I didn't like how that one looked either, frogged it, deleted what didn't work, wrote down what I wanted to change, and what to try next,, and am starting again today.
Three days process for something that only takes a few hours to knit. Still, it's the process that works for me, and the method of organic design that I find most appealing and enjoyable, so I'll keep doing it like this.
When the first mitt is finished to my satisfaction, I will know the gauge, the method, and the stitch counts needed for alternative sizing. I will also be able to whip out a matching hat pattern very quickly, and possibly a pair of booties.
I have a computer document of 'verbal sketches' of pattern ideas, and a collected stack of notebook sheets with rough drawings and some jotted notes waiting when the booties are done.
But my friend Ysabeau needs alpaca wristers. Alpaca in southern California means lace. I worked out the lace pattern last week then set the design aside to 'ripen'. I've since decided to add some beads to them. So that's likely next on the needles.
Then there's a pair of socks I want to make for me, and I might as well make a design out of them, too.
I LIKE creating.
(image is of a hat I made 'on the needles' to send to Pine Ridge. Not one of my best designs, but oh, I had fun making it!)


Anonymous said...

I loved reading how your creative process works for knitting. My quilting design is very organic... I have a general idea, start cutting and sewing and through my mistakes or fate, end up with something unusual and beautiful. I don't quite understand how it works, but it is always successful. I simply CANNOT sew according to a pattern howevr, I don't know what my problem is. :)

AlisonH said...

The Pine Ridge recipient was a lucky one--I like that hat.

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I couldn't sketch anything, design or no, if you paid me. I think in 3-D, I work/design in 3-D. I don't like counting stitches but I'm capable of it, and I don't know another way I could actually make designs that could be repeated.

Funny, I think other ways must be better but there's only one way I can actually physically accomplish it.

The only exception was my Fast Florida Footies. I knew I had one day to make them and then I had to give them away. So I'd work out one section, then count stitches and write down that section. I'd go to the next section the same way, and when I was done with the first sock I was done writing the bare bones of the pattern. Then I knit the 2nd one from the notes.

I didn't enjoy that one as much, though it remains my most popular pattern. Go figure.