(Okay, I wrote this a couple months ago, but forgot to post it, sorry! Another catch-up post about the Bandha Hoodie is on its way too.. but in the meantime, if you want to see the other neat knitting-related thing I’ve been doing lately, check out the video ShopCasts I’ve been shooting for Three Bags Full!)
I’m so happy to announce that I have another pattern up at Twist Collective! This is Lara, from the Winter 2010 issue:
I have been playing with hood designs for a couple years, both those attached to sweaters and stand-alone versions that in the past hadn’t really worked. When the Mood Boards for this issue were sent out, I was inspired by the skating story to try again, so my submission included a sketch of a hood along with a couple other hat ideas… and the hood was accepted, yay!
When I learned that I would get to work with Unwind Yarns Merlot, I was especially happy – Shannon (the dyer) is from the Vancouver area as well and I have actually met her in person a couple of times at the LYS where I work and at mutual friends’ parties! Her yarns always get rave reviews at the shop, and I love her semi-solid colours. Though I wouldn’t have chosen bright golden orange for ME, I totally understood Kate’s editorial vision of high-impact colours that would really pop against the white background of a skating rink, and the Glow colourway does a great job of showing the stitch patterns!
This is where my design story goes downhill a bit: When the yarn for Lara arrived, I was already working on meeting the deadline for a sweater for another publication (the Bandha hoodie for Knitscene Winter/Spring 2011), so I didn’t jump into working on it right away. I knew that I was going to be flying out to Toronto the weekend before our designs were due, so I thought that if I started it a couple weeks before that, I could have it done and pop it in the mail from Toronto for a quick delivery to Montreal.
Lesson Learned from Lara: don’t leave things until the last minute!
I started swatching… and swatched… and swatched… and swatched… I was struggling with a couple of things: my original idea and sketch had the vines starting at the bottom corners of the hood and growing in both directions (towards centre top and back neck), and I just couldn’t get the vine AND the background to both increase in a satisfactory way… and then I was also having issues with choosing background stitches that would lay flat rather than curl the edges around, but that would also let the delicate vines stand out without being overwhelmed by a lot of extra texture. An email to Kate came back with her approval to move away from the original construction concept, and a suggestion that a simple purl background (like the one used in Red Oak in the Fall issue) would block flat if it was kept in scale to the vine patterning.
More swatching included working on the corner design and general construction, and testing different versions of the leafy vines. So the deadline is now looming.. but I’m still feeling pretty okay because I have the whole day of flying to Toronto, plus the weekend at my in-laws, to finish it up and get it blocked. Great! Only one problem: I’m a perfectionist.
I was still swatching on the flight over, and through the first day of our visit… and then continued knitting like a fiend for the next two days to get it done! (An apology to my niece and the rest of Chris’ family: next time I’ll be more available for hanging out and playing, promise!) I-cord added, leaf tassels done, blocked, charts done and notes written… into the mail it went! Whew!
And then came the email.
I have give Kate a lot of credit: she has excellent taste (I LOVE so many designs in every issue), the drive and skill to get issues of Twist out on a regular schedule, AND the ability to write very clear and straightforward emails when she’s not satisfied with a submitted design!
Lesson Learned from Lara: refer back to the original sketch frequently, and consult early!
Kate pointed out that my hood had morphed to a point of being unrecognizable from my original sketch: it was bigger, the vine pattern was scaled larger in relation to the overall hood, and I had changed the shape of the front bands dramatically to the point where it reminded her of the plastic rain bonnets that our grandmothers used to wear! Whoops, so NOT a good thing! A few more emails back and forth, clarifying sizes and shapes and timeframes, and then I was in a flurry to get the rework done in time to make the original photoshoot deadline.
I had to wait for the original hood to come back so I could frog and reuse the yarn, so in the meantime I started swatching again for smaller vines. You can’t see this from the photos, but the vines on both sides of the face point UP, due to being worked in two pieces and a quick graft at the centre top… I thought this was a decent solution rather than having upside-down leaves on one side of the face! Another construction tweak kept the hood smaller - the point on the first version was a huge thing reminiscent of Lord of the Ring costumes! (The fact that a lot of my friends are into costuming and Faerie World gatherings made this seem like a good thing at first…)
With Kate’s guidance, the second version (what you are now seeing as Lara[Ravelry link]) got finished, and shipped back in time to make the ice rink photoshoot. I agree with her that this smaller version is really cute, and from the response I can track on Ravelry, it is obvious that many knitters think so, too!
Lesson Learned from Lara: an initial rejection is not the end of the world, and the acceptance of critique and feedback can result in the creation of a really cool thing!
These lessons (and a couple others I learned during this project) will serve me well as I continue building my career as a knitwear designer – thanks so much, Kate!
For those of you who will be knitting Lara: there is one technique in the vine charts that I may have invented (or unvented) called a Combine. This came to life after hours of swatching leaf variations, trying to keep the edge of the increasing leaf body clean and crisp, while also managing a decrease somewhere so the stitch count wouldn’t change. The result is a combination of a left-lifted increase worked with an immediate SSK decrease: the Combine!
(Have you seen this technique before? Let me know, I’d love to see how other designers use it!)
Here’s my latest version: knit following the pattern, still using Unwind Yarns Merlot DK but in a yummy green this time. This one hadn’t been blocked yet when I took the photo, so you can see the issue with curling edges that I was worried about..but blocking really does make it go away! (see more photos on Ravelry)
I always enjoy seeing my patterns worked up in different colour combinations and yarns – the variations on Piper and Lallans posted on Ravelry are neat! I really appreciate your support for my designs, and can’t wait to see your Laras!