Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Changing Direction

Well, my bloggy friends, I'm afraid I have lied to you once again. I didn't bind off Sevillano after all. I started on Monday, but the bind-off was coming off way too tight and I thought, I need to rethink this. So I set it aside, and I have no photos. I'm afraid I have been a little under the weather the past couple of days and the knitting has suffered a bit.

Yesterday, faced with the prospect of picking out the amount of the bind-off I had already done, I decided I had better get off my rear and get moving on my homework for my shawl design class. Some people are better at 'work at your own pace' than others, and I am definitely an other. The more structured the better, for me, when it comes to learning. But I digress. I'm going to try to describe my process without making it totally unnecessary for my readers to take Stefanie's class. Know that much more knowledge and many more tips are offered than I am presenting here.

The first step was, not terribly surprising, to conceptualize the shawl. Stefanie recommended sketching. I did it, although I felt silly, because I had already made some of the decisions she was asking us about. I knew I wanted to make a triangular (half-square) shawl and not a full square, and I knew I wanted to use laceweight yarn (completely disregarding Stefanie's advice, as it happens, but I already bought laceweight, so laceweight I shall use - besides, I much prefer the look of lace done in laceweight as a personal preference). I even had decided on a theme (which, incidentally, has since completely gone out of the window, but I'll get to that).

Anyway, I sketched. Badly. I'm not sure it got me anywhere, but I could see how it might be a useful process if you were just trying to figure out what you like. I attempted a stick figure on one of my drawings for scale - I generally prefer pretty good sized shawls that fall a little below my waist. I realize you can't tell that from my stick figure at all.

sketch 1

sketch 2

The next step was to pick out the stitch patterns that we wanted to use and start swatching. I thought this would be the fun, easy part of the whole thing, but it was actually quite frustrating. I went through making notes of stitch patterns that fit my 'theme' and found - none of them worked together. The stitch counts were wildly different, and nothing was coming together. In our class chat, one of the questions I asked was how Stefanie goes about choosing patterns. She said she usually starts with one stitch pattern that she really loved and then she looked for things that went with it. That made sense to me, although I didn't really get how anyone could design a themed shawl like all the ones I loved so much in this manner. But, I decided to toss my theme and try it that way.

So I got out my stitch dictionaries and picked one of the patterns that I had really liked when I was looking before, and I went through both books and then marked every single stitch pattern with a similar stitch count (the one I was looking at was 8+1, so I marked all the 8+1's and all the 16+1's, etc). I really didn't look at anything besides the stitch count at that point. Then, I flipped back through all the marked pages more slowly, looking at the stitch patterns themselves. And, gradually, a new theme came to me, based on the patterns that I was looking at, and I started to get really excited about the design process again.

I started a swatch but the Harmony Guide has no charts, only written directions, and they are written in what is, in my opinion, the most annoying way possible. So I wasn't even through the first row when I got impatient and went to KnitChart, where I charted out the pattern.

The other two patterns were in my Vogue Knitting stitch dictionary, which does have charts, but since I would need to chart them all out for my pattern anyway, I just went ahead and charted all of them. Besides being free, the program is very easy to use, and I just screen captured my charts and put them in a Word document, cropped, resized, and printed, and they are clear as day. I think I will have to redo the stitch legend, though, as I prefer different stitches from the default. It also lets you save the java code for a chart in a text file so when I'm ready to put my full pattern together, I can just load up my existing charts and copy and paste the symbols over.

All this took up so much time that I didn't even get through one repeat of my stitch pattern, so I didn't bother to photograph the swatch (I was sleepy), but I will leave you with a few images that are meant to be represented by the three stitches I intend to use. (Sadly none of these pictures, or the video, were taken by me, so click on the images to head over to flickr if you want to see more from the photographers themselves.)

Green Sea Turtle Shell

Baby Sea Turtle

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