NOODLE FACTORY – DESIGNING IN TRAFFIC AND ON THE NEEDLES

Progress on all fronts, but slow progress here. My green tablecloth continues to grow, at the glacial pace of of four rounds per week due to the massive number of stitches per round. I’ve got two projects in the noodling stage, things that give me ample daydreaming fodder for my commute. One is a rescue of glorious fall foliage color hand-painted yarn from a project long consigned to my Chest of Knitting Horrors. The other is the long patterned stockings inspired by the fashion clip I posted two weeks ago.

I don’t know how other people design things, but my own processes are more like back burner simmering than line cook production. But this can happen in one of two ways.

The first is more project-centric. An idea occurs, I chew on it a while, running through mental CADD rotations to visualize it in three dimensions. Sometimes an idea dies during this process. Some factor (or more usually, reality) makes me realize that the thing can’t be knit or would not have a high probability of success. Other times all things fall into place. I see the finished product, the materials and techniques required, and have worked out all but the final math and gauge long before I pick up the needles. I do this think-work mostly during my commute back and forth to work, and its one of those insidious things that I have to fight off during long, boring meetings. I’d say about half of my projects start this way, and tend to finish almost all of them.

The second is more yarn-centric. If I have a particular yarn in hand the process works a bit differently. It moves out of the think stage very quickly, and often with only the vaguest of notions on how to proceed. In this case I get the yarn on the needles and begin to play. That’s how the Kureopatora’s Snake happened. I stumbled across a couple of left over skeins of the stuff and my magpie color sense was rekindled. I needed a scarf to give as a gift and the yarn’s colors held me in thrall, so I sat down and played. It took me half a movie’s worth of fiddling to get started, but the thing shaped up quickly after that. I ended up ripping out my beginning and starting a second time so I could write down what I had been doing before I forgot.

diagscarf-4.jpg

Something similar happened when I did my old See Saw Socks pattern. Regia Ringel was new then, and not widely distributed. I ran across a couple of skeins in a discount bin at the old Women’s Industrial Union crafts shop downtown in Boston (now long gone). The shop person lamented that the colors were nice, but no one was buying this splotchy stuff. Now stripers are understood and appreciated but back then, there being no knit samples or on-line pix of the finished product, the piebald skeins were a hard sell. I started the toe-ups and was delighted by the striping, but didn’t want to make a boring-to-knit all stockinette ankle. So having determined the depth of each stripe (more or less) I began to play with various directionally skewed designs that worked into my stitch count and that row count. And serendipity hit:

seesaw.jpg

Please don’t ask me for the pattern. I sold the original pattern and all reprint rights for See Saw to KnitNet. They’ve subsequently featured it twice in their newsletter. If you want it, you’ll have to go through them.

While the remaining half of my projects do begin with the yarn instead of the extended think session, it’s worth noting that my most spectacular failures and most happy successes all came from this method. The sobering note is that failures that began with the yarn instead of the planning do outnumber the successes, and most of my Chest of Knitting Horrors residents were yarn-inspired.


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