Sunday, April 22, 2007

Creating a creative process

Recently I read a post by Elspeth (who shares a name with a beloved great aunt whom I miss a great deal) on her knitting process. Her step one is much like mine - Oh my that's beautiful....but would kill me to do that much garter stitch, or would look horrendous on me, or more likely, that would be perfect to make for so and so.

Unlike her, I do buy yarn just because it's pretty, a good deal, or it tells me to. Having a stash does come in handy for small projects (like Calorimetry). She claims it makes her more productive to buy specifically and not randomly so perhaps I should take a cue from her. Reading the pattern intensely, and scrupulously as she suggests makes lovely sense but I am often attempting something new so it is hard to visualize some of the directions. This results in a more zen approach of being in the moment with the pattern and letting it show me w
ant happens as I go through the steps of the pattern. Zen, yea, well it sounds good doesn't it?

I'm with her about the mis en place, which I do with my cooking frequently. In fact in preparing for Sunny's introduction to (our) society party I incorporated that technique since I was making nut-mushroom pate, a Waldorf salad, chickpea curry (in which I cooked the beans myself as well, thank you very much!), lemon rice, and pistachios macaroons. The curry and rice dishes each had a huge list of ingredients, here are a few of them. Where was I? Oh yes, my other creative outlet, knitting. I do like the idea of photocopying the pattern and I do this some of the time, other times carrying around a magazine permanently primed to open to a specific page, gradually looking more tattered and worn.

It is rare that I am making a pattern that has raged like a wildfire through the blog world - I am not sure why that it, perhaps it that I choose very basic patterns from the tabloid version of knitting magazines, though I am readying to step up to Interweave-level patterns. Elspeth's "just the facts ma'am" section is completely baffling to me, leaving once again alone on this island of the neophyte knitter.

Knitters all have drilled into their heads to swatch or test their gauge. It is rare that do this because for most of my patterns it hasn't mattered much however that will change in time. I do swatch, don't get me wrong. Especially for Tigger and Kimono, I definitely tested things out first. The current pattern I am making for her resulted in quite the math project (another post).

I definitely ponder long and hard. When I decided to make a sweater for T'Mane (The Most Adorable Niece Ever), I spent hours pouring over patterns, taking into consideration I had only made the Baby Sweater from Hell as practice (E. Zimmerman baby surprise sweater pattern here's a link to a nice photo of someone else's knitting) and thought such items beyond me.'s pattern of Tigger was a great find, though I obsessed endlessly, asked silly questions of myself and others before and during the process. Sunny's socks were another endless search and ponder mission. I created a stumbling block of being convinced that I could never make a "real" pair of socks. Foolish now, of course as I ponder more socks in my near future (there is gorgeous Trekking XXL ball sitting in my stash).

Apparently this a huge part of my process, decide on an item for a specific person and ponder endless on the patterns and yarns (which usually require a purchase because in truth my stash is not that big (yet). My secret project (which is underway) was another example of knowing the type of item I wanted to make for my friend and in my mind's eye I visualized the colour palette I wanted. I found the pattern before I found the yarn in this case. Hours were spent looking at yarns over the internet and in person. I found the yarn spoke to me the most but when it arrived it looked nothing like the image. Every time I work on the project I say "thank you" to Deb of Fearless Fibers who had the perfect yarn. I am in the middle of such a journey for another friend. I know the item I want to make but have no idea of exactly the pattern or the colourway I will ultimately choose.

It seems clear that my process could use some fine tuning. Even though I am a beginning knitter, without much skill, I dream of designing things. Recently I found Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge for about 30% and I can see using it to begin to create my own designs. Knowing me, I will start small, too small which means I'll be about 80 before I actually design anything more than a hat or scarf but life is a journey not a destination.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I wish we both had more self-confidence in our knitting--can't wait to see your next pair of socks!