I stumbled onto a wonderful tidbit last evening as I was roaming the internet.Â It is an article by Dorothy Siemens, designer of the Peacock Feathers Shawl, on the site Knitting Beyond the Hebrides.Â In this piece, Dorothy describes the design process sheÂ went throughÂ in creating her Peacock masterpiece.Â She also discusses some of the response she has had to the design by those of us who long for a Peacock of our own.Â
It is a very fun read and really lets you in onÂ the ups and downs of design.Â I do not profess to be a designer in Dorothy’s league by any stretch of the imagination, but the frustrations and “indirect route” that define the landscape of knitting design are very familiar territory.Â I have often said that a sweater designs itself, though very cryptically.Â You have an idea in your head, but it will not let you get there.Â It will take you where it needs to go, but you find it only by trial and error.Â
I emailed Dorothy in what amounted to a gushy fan letter and her response was so warm and generous — very cool!!Â It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to recreate all the gorgeous shawls she has designed — see them at Fiddlesticks Knitting.Â Thank you, Dorothy!Â
As I work on the sweater that Susan and I are designing together, I started thinking about some of my past designs. I believe that this sweater, named Rennes after the French city I lived in briefly while in college, is the first sweater I designed from scratch.
As you can see, it has a square neck, bold cables, and a shoulder strap. The shoulder strap is a traditional one, and was the inspiration for this design. With a traditional shoulder strap, the front and backs of the sweater are joined together as you continue the sleeve up the strap. (You knit the shoulder strap together with stitches from the front and the back.) The technical challenge is to get the number of stitches right (through planning, decreases, and luck) so that the shoulder drapes correctly and doesn’t balloon or pull. Here is a close up of the shoulder:
Although in the photograph the lines of stitches going between the sleeve and the shoulder strap don’t look straight, that’s because of my poor photography. The lines are straight, especially when the sweater is on.
Here is a more detailed view of the neck and sleeve:
I’m very fond of this sweater. It brings back memories — not only of Rennes but of knitting it while Susan and I traveled in London.
Hello everyone. I saw my surgeon again today. He proclaimed my foot “beautiful,” which is a sure sign that he must see some awfully ugly feet in his line of work. My stitches are out, though, and I am slowly on the mend.
I’ve been working on a new project, which I can’t describe in detail yet. Susan and I have been kicking around a sweater design for a few months and we decided this would be a good time to figure out whether or not it’s workable. Although not a “hard” pattern per se, it presents a few design challenges in trying to make what we envision a reality. Given that I have a lot of free time on my hands right now, I’m doing the bulk of the knitting while she works on some of the more technical design aspects and crunches the numbers. I did a lot of swatching right before my surgery, and I’ve now undertaken the test garment itself. So far, it seems to be working. Because we’re not sure what we’re going to do with this design (publish it here, submit it somewhere, or felt it into a bag if it’s a failure), we’re going to hold off on posting photos or explaining the design.
That’s why I haven’t been blogging much — I’m just not sure what to say!
I know — the progress of an invisible sweater is not very interesting. I plan to try to upload some photographs and descriptions of some of my other unfinished and in progress projects over the next few days.