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Not a Knitting Mozart

At a recent knit night my friends and I were swapping knit-gossip about our favorite designers, including one designer who (according to hearsay) had basically been both knitting and designing for five years.

Now, I assume this designer spent at least a few minutes picking up the basics before launching her wildly successful pattern business. But still…

How do you jump from learning how to knit and follow other people’s visions to the level of understanding that allows you to realize your own visions? Not everyone is a knitting-Mozart, learning to knit and purl one day; the next, channeling the voice of God into their cables.

They say it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world class in any field. I’m not convinced one has to be world class in order to be good enough to be a designer. Still, it seems as if some level of mastery must be attained before you can properly understand what you’re doing…before you can extrapolate from what what you know and have experienced, to something you’ve never even seen.

When are your visions just “twiddling” or adding mods? And when are they something more? At what point does it become clear that your own vision and creativity are the driving force behind what you are creating? When are you no longer aping other fiber artists, but truly doing your own thing?

And at what point do you decide that your fibery, artistic vision is worthy to be formally documented and shared with others? There are very few gate keepers when it comes to knitting patterns these days. It only takes a few clicks of a mouse to publish a pattern on Ravelry. You don’t need to prove your pattern is original, well-written or even tested before releasing it into the wild. If you release it for free then people won’t even hold you accountable for its quality.

I don’t believe in publishing junk. So that option’s out.

Publishing a pattern requires a lot of self-confidence. If you’re not a knitting Mozart with celestial voices to guide you, it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there.  I’d like to do it someday, but I think I’ll be content to be a hardworking knitting Wagner. Wagner famously spent 26 years writing The Ring of the Nibelung. I hope it doesn’t take me that long.

 

 

 

 

Knitting Design Software

Ok folks, I’m dipping my toes ever so slightly into knitwear design. Just for fun, at this point. I’ve created simple designs for myself before, but nothing complicated or, really, written down.

I’ve just completed a rough draft of instructions and a chart for a pair of colorwork mittens. For the charts, I used the spreadsheet software that comes with Libreoffice (a free MS Excel clone for Mac).

Having done this, I’m left with the earnest desire to see if there’s a better solution out there.

What do you like to use? Have you found knitting design software that has truly made your life easier? Do you have different software you use for different purposes?

 

Now that the holidays are over and I am done knitting gifts I am consumed with the desire to cast on all the projects that have been calling to me.

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  • Ariel by Brandy Velten because I have the most perfect yarn ever for this in my stash. Northern Lights, by Cyborg’s Craft Room. Can’t wait for this sweater.
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Image from Cyborg’s Craft Room Instagram feed.

  • Sheep Heid hat by Kate Davies.  Because no one can have enough sheep to wear on their head.  Perhaps I’ll clean up and spin some of the Shetland , CVM and Cormo fleece I have in my stash and knit the entire thing from handspun, naturally colored wool.  That would be a good project. And not nearly so intimidating as spinning enough yarn for a sweater.
  • Peerie Flooers mittens by Kate Davies. I think I have enough fingering weight scraps of the right colors to knit these now. I’m not much of a sock knitter, so colorwork mittens are my purse project of choice.

As I said, I’d like to cast on all these projects…but I won’t, because I have far too many neglected UFOs to tend to first.

  • Nearly-Headless Noodle. Poor little thing. He’s not only headless, he’s missing all his limbs, his tail, his ears, and well…pretty much everything. I’ve got to finish this little guy. Although I might start him over at a tighter gauge.

Nearly-Headless Noodle. Also armless, legless, tailless, earless, and blind. Poor little thing. #UFOs #knittersofinstagram

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

  • Docklight. I put this one aside to knit my husband’s #NaKniSweMo2015 sweater. But now I can knit away on this one full speed.

Lots of progress on Docklight. Really enjoying my first experience with shaker rib.

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

  • The little Clara dress I started over the holidays. I don’t really have any guilt feelings about this one yet. But I should try to finish it before next Christmas.
  • Evenstar shawl, which I used to find so stimulating. I’m sure I would again if I would just pick it up. The yarn is amazing (Grinning Gargoyle 100% silk!). The pattern is amazing. The only thing not amazing is my progress. It’s been sitting for almost two years. Time to reenergize.

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Willpower. Must use willpower.

Squirrel!

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Merry Sweater-mas

My last post sounded pretty dismal. It was the end of November and I had nearly finished my #NaKniSweMo2015 sweater when one of my cats suddenly had to go to the emergency vet.

Working on getting the hang of wearing his cone. #catsofinstagram

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

I didn’t make the November 30 deadline. But, as many of you assured me in the comments, I wasn’t a complete failure. An 80,000 stitch sweater is quite a feat to knit in one month and I shouldn’t devalue that effort. I’ve never knitted a sweater quite that quickly before. Now I know that I can. I’ll definitely try again next year for #NaKniSweMo2016.

I finished seaming the sweater last week. I enjoy seaming saddle shoulder sweaters. So much easier to get it right than with a set-in sleeve. More straight lines.

Thank goodness, with all that rigmarole, it still fits.

Hey y'all. Denali #nakniswemo2015 is done. It took a few extra weeks. But it turned out great. #knittersofinstagram

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

My husband tried the sweater on for me so I could take a few photos before wrapping it up for Christmas. I admonished him to “smile like you’re enjoying this” and he obliged me gamely.

For those of you interested in the vital stats:

Pattern: Denali by Norah Gaughan

Yarn: Studio Donegal Soft Donegal in the Turquoise colorway. I used approximately 8 skeins. I almost always seem to use less yarn than the pattern calls for. I had estimated I would need more like 9 skeins.

Needles: US 4, 5 and 6

Dates: November 1 – December 17, 2015

The pattern was very straightforward and the cables were remarkably un-fiddly. Cable crosses only came every 8 rows or so. Lots of easy knitting spiced with only occasional rows requiring my full attention.

 

 

NaKnitSweMo Fail.

I got really close. I knitted away diligently all month, working my fingers into red, sore little nubs.

#NaKniSweMo status: ready to start the cap of sleeve 1. Most of the long stockinette slog on this one is over.

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

I started with the sleeves to ensure I got the boring part over first.

The back and front each took about a week.

Back of #NaKniSweMo sweater done. Phew! Now on to the front. #NaKniSweMo2015 #zombiesNKSM

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

By Thanksgiving, I was blocking the pieces and knew I’d be ready to start sewing the sweater together by Saturday night.

But then, on Thanksgiving night, my cat Atlas decided to snack on my foam blocking boards.

Front and back #NaKniSweMo2015 #zombiesNKSM

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

He thinks they’re tasty treats. I guess it’s the texture he likes.

So, what with one thing and another, I spent most of Saturday, not sewing together a sweater, but hanging out with Atlas at the emergency vet. He wound up having to have a piece of foam the size of my pinky finger surgically removed from his small intestine.

Incidentally, there were a lot of dogs at the emergency vet Thanksgiving weekend. I bet “Rover ate the wishbone” is a common thing this time of year.

Working on getting the hang of wearing his cone. #catsofinstagram

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

So anyway, we brought him home Monday morning. The whole experience sapped my knitting mojo. I had no desire or attention span to knit. Instead I spent a lot of time spinning.

Sadly, this is definitely a NaKnitSweMo fail. I knitted more than 80,000 stitches of sweater pieces. But right now I just don’t have the heart to put them together.

Maybe next week.

I have accepted the NaKniSweMo 2015 Challenge. This month, I will be knitting Denali by Norah Gaughan. It’s a sweater full of lovely, swirly cables.

Denali by Norah Gaughan Published in BT Men Volume 2 Image © Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood. Click on the photo to link to the pattern page on Ravelry.

NaKniSweMo stands for National Knit a Sweater Month, inspired by NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to knit a sweater of 50,000 stitches (or more) in a month. This sweater should do it, no problem.

I am knitting this sweater inStudio Donegal Soft Donegal in the Turquoise colorway.

My husband picked both the pattern and the color. Husbands who like color and texture are to be cherished, don’t you think?

Pregame report: Prior to November 1, I got to work swatching. Studio Donegal Soft Donegal is a bit heavier than Brooklyn Tweed (the yarn in the pattern). I knitted two different swatches of the cable section and ended up getting gauge by going down two needle sizes to US 5.

Yep. I think I finally got gauge. Had to go down two whole needle sizes.#NaKniSweMo

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

Day 1: I started with the sleeves. The goal is to be virtuous and get the boring bit done first. I used US 4 for the cuff and US 6 for the main sleeve. I was going to use Ysolda Teague’s long tail tubular cast on, but I tried the rib cable cast on the pattern recommends and found I liked how it looked. So I’m using rib cable cast on after all.

Cast on my #NaKniSweMo sweater. I'm knitting the sleeves first. It feels virtuous. Like eating my veggies before the cake.

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

What are you knitting for #NaKniSweMo? It’s not too late to join in.

I started this sweater for my husband (then boyfriend) almost exactly three years ago. This week, I finished it.

They say you shouldn’t knit a sweater for a boyfriend because you’re likely to break up before you finish (or soon after). But maybe it helps if you marry him part way through. The curse gets a little confused.

It probably also helped that I reknitted this sweater three times. Hard for the curse to know which version of the sweater to focus its evil mojo on.

  1. The first time around, I was new to sweater knitting and did not check my gauge. The resulting sweater might have fitted a Harlem Globetrotter, but not my slender husband. Rrrrriiiip.
  2. Time number two, I reknitted about half of the sweater, then got distracted by other things and let it sit for about a year. When I returned to it I noticed that, in the intervening time, my gauge had changed. Some part of me thought that the whole gauge changing thing was a myth, the knitting equivalent of an urban legend (like unto the Sweater Curse). Nope. It happened to me. And it looked hilariously bad in the poor sweater.  Rrrriiiip.
  3. The sweater sat for quite a while before I mustered the motivation for round three. I knitted everything but the trim/collar, then set it aside (again) for months. Yeah, I know, you’d think I would learn not to do that. Thankfully, no one can tell if the gauge in your ribbed button bands or ribbed collar is different. So I’m saved.

The sweater fits him wonderfully well. And hopefully it will last for years.

Pattern: Cambridge Jacket by Ann Budd

Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in the Green Olive colorway

Modifications: Instead of sewing in a zipper, I knitted on a button band. Lots of tiny buttons (10 in all). What can I say? I’m still afraid of sewing in zippers. And I know only the most rudimentary use of a sewing machine, so I don’t trust myself. Maybe someday I’ll brave it.

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