Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Life isn't life if you don't live a little!

The scariest part for me in the whole designing process is the pattern writing.  I usually start out with an idea, either in my head or on a spreadsheet (I can barely call it Excel, my laptop is so ancient, it’s just a ‘spreadsheet function’!) which I then print out.  I usually work from this, deciding on my yarn and needle size as I go along.  To date I have never made a tension swatch.  I generally use the same yarns (either J&S lace weight or cobweb or Heirloom Knitting’s Merino Lace or Cashsilk) which I have used for other designers work, so by now I pretty much know how they react to the knitting process.  It’s funny, but up until now, I hadn’t realised that I never measured anything!  I just keep going till it ‘feels right’ and then cast off.  I have yet to have a problem with this way of working!

As I begin to knit, I may or may not keep any notes (I am really terrible at note taking at this point, everything is stored neatly in my head and it’s only afterwards that I realise I have no way of describing what I’ve just done).  Mostly I just scribble in the margins, stitch counts, how I cast on, cast off etc.  Sometimes I re-do the chart from scratch if I realise it’s not working and this may or may not make it as far as the ‘spreadsheet function’!  So you can see a wobbly lined chart scratched out with little symbols scribbled in, squashed up in the corner of the page.  I am beginning to see in charts now, it’s like the Matrix!  Weird but true…

Once the project is finished, I block it and take lots of photo’s (my 4-year-old daughter also gets her camera out and takes a few pics here too.  No need to add that with her Fisher Price camera, she nearly always takes better pictures than me!  Interesting piece of trivia, she took the photo at the top of this blog with my camera, I kid you not, I think she has found her talent) which I then post on Ravelry with some notes. 

It takes a few weeks of to-ing and fro-ing to my parent’s house to borrow their computer and broadband with my trusty little memory stick before I’m happy with the actual pattern.  I find that I have to print it off several times and proof read it rather than do it off a computer screen because I seem incapable of reading anything properly off a screen.  My brain doesn’t seem to take it all in.   When I have transferred pictures and the excel charts over to word and the written pattern I check it one more time and then take the very scary step of loading it up on Ravelry!  Argh… It’s such a scary, can’t turn back now, sink or swim moment and it terrifies me.  But I do it anyway.  Life isn’t life if you don’t live a little.  I might just make that my Mantra, I kind of like it!  I have to state here that I’m the biggest scaredy cat going; I’m scared of my own shadow, so the fact that I’m doing this at all is HUGE!

Once it’s up, I then check on the pattern more than I did on my own children when they were asleep in their cots.  I feel very precious about it and worry that people won’t like it or won’t understand what I’ve written.  So far, thankfully, everyone has been very supportive and has given lots of constructive criticism and help.  So all’s good.

I’m in the middle of proof reading Killtipper and NicEoin scarves and they should be ready by Saturday.  I’m looking forward to posting Killtipper in particular because it’s simple, it’s free, it’s the first pattern I’ve offered in both chart and written form and people genuinely seem to like the look of it.  I’m wearing mine now, great for jazzing up a plain outfit, I feel quite jaunty and worldly, so I’m hoping that the uptake will be good.  I’ll be making lots more with bits and bobs from my stash and will be giving them as Christmas presents this year.

Next up will be finishing my Percy, starting 2 more scarves (Glebe & Naughty Sophia) and 3 more shawls (Mandalay, Plumfield and Monte Cristo) and beginning work again on my Peerie Smoorikins Shawl (I should be receiving my yarn in the post any day now).  I have also been looking through the finished shawls on Ravelry and a Pi shawl caught my eye.  There is a knit along as well and I’m interested, as I’ve never done one before.  The shawl is the EZ 100th Anniversary Pi Shawl – Camping (there are three to choose from, camping, hearts and gull wings) by Mwaa Knit Obsession.  All three are absolutely beautiful but the camping one really caught my eye as the edging in particular is so beautiful.  I really want to make it, but it would mean buying more wool and I’m not sure I can afford it this month.  I may take the plunge in September, I think I had it worked out that I needed 10/11 balls of J&S Jumper Weight pure Shetland wool (I think it’s about £1.69 a ball = £18.59, reasonable enough for a HUGE shawl!).

So that’s all I have for now folks, take care and happy knitting! 


  1. You're designing?! How did I miss that?! You rock!

    Michele :)

  2. Hi, ha ha, thanks! I'm finding it more of an obsession than knitting!