Friday, May 8, 2009

Delicious Design



Confession: this is not my only knit blog! Scandalous, I know. Actually, as a practicing poly-blogamist, I also post my knit thoughts at the Hill Country Weavers blog. (HCW is my local beloved knitting store in Austin, TX.) As I mentioned over there in a post earlier this week, I am thrilled to have an article in the new Intervweave KNITS mag. It's a profile of renowned designer Deborah Newton. It was both an honor and a hoot talking to Deb, who is so inspiring and so encouraging and who, at least as we were talking, led me to fantasize that I, too, could be a knit designer.

Well, okay, in a sense I already am. I design very goofy, no pattern, 3-D sculptural stuff, like a hat that looks like a roasted chicken, another that looks like a menorah, and yes, even a pair of handcuffs. These sill projects are usually the result of a challenge by my boyfriend, Warren, who knows I can't resist when he throws a kooky knitting idea my way. It is fun to try to figure out how to make these things into actual finished items, even if they aren't terribly practical.

But seriously, folks, there is a wistful part of me that loves the idea of being so thoroughly fluent in knit that I can go from the visualizing stage to the completion stage in no time at all. I probably starting wishing for this ability maybe seven years into knitting (my first four years I would only ever make garter-stitch rectangles, so afraid was I of learning to purl since I knew this would lead me to want to learn complicated patterns). Hanging out on Monhegan Island with Lisa and Susan just fed the beast. Here I was, spending an entire week living and breathing in the presence of great designers. When I saw the pattern for Lisa's Fair Isle bag, I was blown away. How did she design it? How could I ever learn to knit it, let alone come up with something similar on my own?

I say that knitting with Lisa and Susan was like jumping out of a plane with an instructor strapped to your back, someone who understands when to pull the parachute cord. With their patience, I figured out that Fair Isle bag and also how to knit lace. I was stunned that I could get a grasp on these things. And when I came home, I used my newfound skills-- the main one being confidence-- to actually start playing around with design. Nothing I'm ready to show off or anything. But still, I was psyched to get the nudge I needed to take another baby step forward on the design path.

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