Friday, April 23, 2010

The Process

It's been quiet on my blog and I apologize for not having posted anything for quite some time. I have been single-mindedly and obsessively working over a design that will appear in Vogue Knitting's Fall 2010 issue. When I was given the thumbs up after I submitted a design proposal, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Of course that excitement turned to anxiety and moved swiftly into self-doubt. The self-doubt is easy to understand... just go back to some of my first posts here. (By the way, if you're only thinking about documenting your progress as a crafter or artist and haven't done so, I highly recommend it. It's easy to forget how far you've come.) Here are some old post highlights:

1) WTF. Who told me a pink and turquoise pussy cat would be ok?

2) What was I thinking. My very first garment was going to be some french-translated JACKET with binding and buttons... oy. The very best thing about that Swing Jacket is after joining the online KAL, I met some knitters that I still keep in touch with. And no, I never finished the jacket. Maybe one day.

3) And, puh-lease, I thought this was a lot.. I can only laugh out loud. I think I bought that much during my last trip to the LYS.

(And why am I not using my sewing machine?! Shame on me.)

So after taking that stroll down memory lane, I reminded myself that I taught myself how to do this...this... knitting thing and that nothing could stop me.

As soon as I found out what yarn VK was planning on sending me, I ran out and went yarn shopping. For research, of course. I bought one skein (and several others) and started swatching. And swatching. And swatching. I tried the stitch pattern on a multitude of different needles. I blocked. I swatched and blocked again.

I felt like I couldn't get enough information, and that I needed more information. Was it 8.2 sts/in that I was getting? More like 7.9? Was the smaller needle too tight? Would the fabric not drape properly? My swatches were too small!

I was keeping myself up at night with all these questions. And they kept coming. Negative ease? Different eases between bust and waist? How long should I make it? How wide should the neck be? How big will the model's head be?

So from lack of sleep, exhaustion and delerium, I moved on. I had to close my eyes and cast on.

Using my swatches, I was able to plan out my entire garment before casting on. So I kept referring to my notes and laid out how the stitch pattern would increase and decrease with a sequoia's worth of graph paper.

I cannot tell you how difficult it is to depend on your very own pattern for the first time. It felt like something was missing. It felt like I needed the REAL pattern to follow. That mine alone wasn't enough. It was nerve-racking and disorienting. Like I was taking a quiz and just wanted to peek at the answer key.

And as I started knitting the back, a fellow knitter peeked over my shoulder and said, "Oh, is that the sleeve?" Omigod, I thought. OMIGOD. It's too small. It's way too small. Vogue requested the sample be in a women's size small, determined by the CYCA. I checked my numbers, checked my swatches, checked the guidelines, and used three different rulers (just in case), and even more calculators (you never know) and determined that my cast-on was right. So, I plowed on.

Once I completed the back, I had to block it to make sure it was ok.

It looked ok to me. It was actually more than ok - I really liked it! So I knitted on and was so happy when I finally got to the sleeves.

And even happier that the sleeves looked considerably smaller than my back when I started.

The most satisfying part of this entire process was that the sweater turned out to look like I had planned. Who woulda guessed. I was really quite surprised. I didn't have any doubts that it would look like a sweater, of some sort. But it looked like my sketch. Yippee!! I just sat down and stared at it on my dressform.

Wow, I actually did it.