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New Project Alert:Process & Play

August 14th, 2011


This morning, as with most weekend mornings, I got up early to attempt to get caught up with emails and responsibilities, with responses and projects. I’m working on three ‘secret’ designs right now; one for a book, one for a yarn company, and one for myself. I can’t photograph them, or talk about them, despite how much I’m happy with the results and the process.

This morning, while writing up some pattern instructions and charts, I had a New Idea for something to knit. My mom’s birthday is coming up (no, she doesn’t read this), and I wanted to make her something new for fall. Years ago, when the Kogiu Charlotte’s Web project was quite the thing, I’d gifted her one. She loved the colours, the texture, and the warmth. I loved knitting it; switching from colourway to colourway, enjoying the unexpected combinations.

But, I’ve been there, and done that. Twice. And yet, my stash has so many single skeins of the Painter’s Palette Merino.

So I got to thinking. I’ve had this idea in my head for awhile of another short row shaped shawl, but with a simple ripple pattern that can showcase Koigu’s impressionistic colors.

Design Process

Why don’t I blog the design process? Start to finish?

Here’s the start of almost any project. I write out a pseudo-pattern.

In the programming world, it’s common to use what’s called “pseudo-code” to work through a bit of logic or a part of the program before the programmer gets sucked into the nitty-gritty of syntax and formatting. I use the same practice for my pattern design.

In this case, I’ve written out my two row garter stitch ripple pattern, just to give me a place to start.

The sketch is part of the pseudo-pattern. I document the intended shape, and add in directional arrows and lines to give me an idea of how the stitches will work.

And yes, for an accessory, I nearly always do this before worrying about gauge or exact needle size. It lets me start knitting while the idea is fresh; a key part of the second point I want to make.


Although I do occasionally write out a large portion of the pattern ahead of time, I prefer to just give myself enough to start with. Keeping things open and loose invites me to play with the pattern, the yarn, and the concept. And it also keeps it fun.

This design job isn’t really a ‘job’ in the conventional sense of the word. It’s how I pour my love for the craft into something that I can share with others. And yet, it’s sometimes easy for these kinds of ‘hobby industries’ to become obligations.

For me, combining the Play with the Process ensures this can’t happen. My patterns have to be fun to knit, or I’m not going to finish them. (And you probably won’t either.) This is one reason I incorporate directional twists and turns into many of my designs, or just change up the stitch pattern before it gets to be tedious.

Keeping things loose in the beginning sometimes means I have to start over a few times. In this case, the ripple pattern I’ve written may be too wide, or too narrow. It may not be ripply enough. It may be too ripply. I’ll find out within a few inches whether or not it’s as I imagined. If not? Back to the notebook.

So, for this wrap, I’m getting ready to cast on this afternoon.

Tomorrow? I’ll show you how it’s going as I begin to work the edging.

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2 Responses to “New Project Alert: Process & Play”

  1. NiseyKnits Says:

    Very nice! I’m starting to do a bit of designing and I’m learning how to do this kind of process. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Lesley Says:

    I’m glad to hear you talk about the play with the process – the only project I’ve ever remained monogamous to has been Cloud Chaser! Combining the two is a winning combination in my book!!

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