This is how it was with the Nutcracker, even though it is not yet completed and is still open to some changes. I have done the first one of the sleeves and yet am not sure about the collar. But let me make this clear first, I'm not a designer and highly respect anyone having the right to use that word - but since I do not know a less professional alternative for the word, I'll use it here.
Sometimes a design grows around a new technique I want to try out. Sometimes I come up with a design that has been cooking up in my mind for sometime and has been waiting for the right moment to pop up. The design is composed of various things I have been observing: the colours of the surroundings, the images on the blogs, magazines and TV just to name a few. Then it is just a matter of drawing it and knitting after the drawing. But there are times when there is more to it, more work and more thought.
I have done only a few commissioned works but have established myself some kind of a working/designing culture. So this is not the very first time. Even though I don’t usually document my knitting process this way I thought about doing it for fun and also to keep myself motivated until the very end or the last stitch so to speak… and to have something to blog about. Big solitary sweaters are known to be less inspiring to blog about.
What you read here now is not intended to be any kind of a lesson – and I have not been preparing this presentation for days, this is just one blog entry for your amusement. When I look back on any of my knits (or other crafts, some people may call it art, but I myself think of me as a craftsman, but that again is another issue) I can trace back and see from where the inspiration came.
My inspiration mostly is the nature. It outlines my colour choices, my mood changes like the world outside my windows. The first snow fell October 14th and nothing boosts sweater knitting like cold weather.
The first snow is a miracle.The same as when in the spring the lake is freed from the ice. After the first snow, the world is once again clean and pure and quiet. It calms me down.
And then, there is no denying, my mind wanders off to Christmas. The anticipation of Christmas when all the hustle and bustle has not yet started is the best part of it. All the secrets and fairytales and the smells of cooking are soon here, but not quite yet.
Because genious BrooklynTweed had planted in my brain the thought of knitting Adult Tomten Jacket, I had plenty of grey and a little bit of red to knit this new season. But it was not yet my time to knit ATJ and I had to search for something else. Then I found my theme by having to listen to the music of the Nutcracker.
I researched my theme a bit. Read the story again and printed out few nice nutcracker pictures I could find from the internet and used them for ideas. (The theme is just there to focus on something and to get me going. Sometimes I might not use the theme for anything else but as a starting point.)
I set myself a frame inside of what I was going to work. I wanted to knit another long sweater, long and slender sleeves and raglan shaping. I aimed for a usable everyday garment, possibly to myself.
Here are the blank frames that I started to fill. As you can see there is the basic shape as seen from the front and the back. I use these kind of templates a lot when I’m designing something to wear. This is the place where I dream, if I was living in another place or in another time… or whatever. And keep dreaming until I find something.
Not the whole garment but something. One little detail I can start building to. If I was doing a sweater on a commission (which I don't do) I would need to work out every little detail now but since I’m doing this for myself I leave room for playing later on. The ability to make changes until the very end is very inspiring and the fuel that keeps me knitting to the last stitch.
I have some guidelines that I try to follow, a sort of design philosophy of my own but no matter how well I try to think in advance and sort out the likes and dislikes in my mind, all the designs do not come out perfectly. And if you look at the works of good designers, real ones, there are some designs that are beautiful and some that are not that beautiful and some that are plain bad. I have burnt my wings many times. And learnt a lot.
When I have the design worked out (more or less), then is the time for swatching and establishing gauge and all that pain. While designing is mostly enjoyable, the swatching and stuff is often frustrating and frantic. I have lots (and I mean lots) of needles involved and lying here and there, I hardly ever finish my swatches and they occupy the needles until I get around to tossing them away when I need the needles for something else… talk about a mess. I should start collecting the different swatches with good notes for later use, but for that I would need discipline and at this stage of the process, I lack discipline.
Usually I draw and glue and write down stuff into my notebooks, this time I'm hoping to put together a portfolio but I'm having doubts. When the Nutcracker is done, all my interest in it vanishes and I am most likely going to be occupied elsewhere. If I on the other hand should get stuck in between area of two projects, then there might be a chance to finish the portfolio...
And to tell the whole truth, my sock mojo keeps escaping. I really don't know what to do with it. So I'll be knitting the Nutcracker. Finishing the second sleeve and hopefully coming up with an idea for the collar. Anyway I'll knit something that can be called collar.
Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your wool!