Saturday, March 26, 2011

In Praise of Designers

I am by no means a designer. I'm a good problem-solver and modifier, but an ideas-man I am not. I often find inspiration in others' work, but rarely do I sit down and pull something out of the air that is entirely my own.

During my last visit to L.A. I purchased two skeins of madelinetosh vintage in Tart. I was absolutely in love with it, so much so that I couldn't stand to walk away from it. When I got it home, I knew what I wanted it to become, but I just wasn't sure how I was going to do it.

I pictured the undulating curves of a calla lily, smooth and round, that would make the most of the dark shadows that lived in the yarn. I wanted a scarf or shawl or cowl, something I could wear near my face. I played around with ideas about how I would make them for weeks, searching patterns for inspiration, reading stitch dictionaries, drawing pictures... I had some idea of how to proceed, but not really how to start.

Then, I found this pattern. Fagus, by Ann Lundblad.

It had everything I wanted: the beautiful petals that resembled calla lilies, simple lines, and beautiful shape. And it was so clever: I wanted the petals to line up diagonally, but I couldn't figure out how to do that if I started knitting from the straight edge. This pattern starts from the point, and that made it perfectly simple to place each petal.

It was even beautiful in progress:

That's a ball wound by my friend, dkzack. I stopped every so often to admire it, because it looked so much like a budding rose.

It's not a huge shawl, but large enough to keep my back warm in my office (where the climate swings from tropical to arctic on a regular basis), and small enough to wrap around my neck to keep it warm when I wear dressier coats and jackets.

It always takes me at least an hour to take photos of my projects, and Rascal is normally irritated by the whole process (he hates the puppy paparazzi, and he usually whines when he hears the click of my camera), but today, he was at my feet, pawing my leg for attention. I picked him up, and took a photo with him, but his usual irritation with the camera resurfaced. Oh well.

I'm very happy with it, and it has reaffirmed my admiration and astonishment of knit/crochet designers. They are different from fashion designers, because they don't just think of beautiful things to wear, but they can also tell you how they did it. That, in my opinion, is the toughest part. People often ask me how I made my Copycat Cardigan, but honestly, it's so difficult to convey how I did it, that I can't see myself ever writing the pattern.

All in all, this pattern was well worth the $3.50 I spent on it. Sure, I could spend a bit more and get a whole magazine full of patterns, but in the end, how many of those am I actually going to knit? And yes, there are tons of free patterns out there (believe me, I've got lots of those queued to start), but it's also important to support designers, because without them, I wouldn't have this wonderful inspiration that fuels my obsession.

And yes, it is an obsession. What of it? I could be into worse things.

I could be part of the puppy paparazzi. What would Rascal do then?


Mimi said...

A lovely design and you did an excellent job on it! That is such an adorable pic of you and your puppy :)

AdrieneJ said...

Thanks! I just wish he would look at the camera! :)

YarnKettle said...

I love everything about that shawl, except that it is not here. No seriously it is gorgeous! It looks beautiful on you also.

AdrieneJ said...

@YarnKettle: That yarn really makes it! If you get a chance, you should get a skein of it to try out!

Joanne said...

What a gorgeous shawl! Your comments about designing are rare and special. It is not often that designers hear this positive stuff--instead, we often hear complaints and rarely hear someone who says so clearly that she is a satisfied customer! Thank you. That design is stunning and your yarn choice and knitting skills really make it sing.

AdrieneJ said...

I've seen people attack designers in some knitting forums, and I just can't understand the gall of them. If I had a problem with a pattern, I'd ask the question privately by email and ask for more clarification if the answer wasn't clear enough for me. I love your Spire Smock pattern, and I can't wait to find the yarn to make it!

Geri said...

I really like the leafy edge on your shawlette. I'm in a leafy mode myself right now.

I'm inspired by others' work as well - I'm not a designer but more of a technician. I can knit almost anything but I'm usually not the one to originate the idea. I agree that there are so many free patterns available now to choose from but if I see one 'to die for' and the designer is selling it - I'll buy it.