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.


Marfa said...

Congratulations! It must be such an exciting time for you! I'm trying to learn how to knit, but on looms. I would love to make a loose fitting news boy hat because I love them. Let us know when the magazine with your design is out.

Reckless Glue said...

oh wow, if anyone deserves this it's you---you are a natural at design! I laughed at seeing one of my own comments on your phildar swing jacket post (memory lane indeed)I think that jacket is how I found you (though in the end I chickened out and never knit it!) and I was quite a new knitter then myself... still, I don't think I've come as far as you have in as short a time. Go you! can't wait to see that VK! (once I'm back from Vegas your beret pattern is also top of my list!

Reckless Glue said... last comment had a lot of exclamation points for some reason.

Fer said...

Great post, and congratulations too! If you're that passionate about knitting, and especially the design process, then you're bound to come out on top. The pattern is gorgeous, and is destined to be an instant hit!

shannon said...

Wow! Congratulations! What a great story! I found you through our tech editing class. You are an inspiration and that sweater looks so yummy! Can't wait for fall.

shannon said...

BTW: I am the other Shannon, girl4purl on Ravelry

Leila said...

Congratulations! It's GORGEOUS! I can't wait for the issue to come out so I can make my own. I haven't started a new knitting project in awhile now.

the little owl said...

I can't wait to see the pattern! Congrats!