Knitting Stories.

Today, my lovely knitty friends, I have been contemplating why it is that my projects all take so dang LONG. 

Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I knit reasonably fast, and I devote a reasonable amount of time to doing it. (My boyfriend might argue about the “reasonableness” of my knitting obsession, but we hearken not to the muggles on such a subject. They know not of our ways.) I was thinking and thinking, when I finally realized why it is. I am a knitter, but I am also a writer, and a perfectionist. Now, my mom (who has seen my house) just fell off of her chair, snorting with laughter, because I am a messy, messy person. This is true. I am OBVIOUSLY not a perfectionist when it comes to keeping things neat and tidy, but I definitely am when it comes to things I create. I want things to be exactly right, even if it takes three times as long. (Like how I now use a sewn bindoff on everything. It takes forever, but is impeccably beautiful.) 

Then let’s add to that that I am a writer. Everything I make and do has a story, and I don’t feel right about a project until the story has completely unfolded in my head. It may not be a story that I share with people, but it at least exists in my mind. Every knitted item has a backstory (Some incredibly silly) and it’s one way that I personally give depth and meaning to the craft of knitting. I can’t really finish an item or write up a piece about it until that inspiration strikes, and that is entirely separate from the “work” of the knitting. It needs to find a place in my creative world before I am ready to share it. Sometimes it is as simple as imagining a tiny, perfect baby wrapped in snowy white angora, just before the snow falls. Sometimes it’s considerably more detailed than that, and that brings me to my current project. 

Not too long ago, I got this:

(Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester from Iknitiatives on Etsy.)

 

photo 2 (5)

And when I finally held it in my hands, I realized that it was the ocean, trapped in fiber. Before long, I realized that it needed to be a beautiful sweater, something traditional and special, but most of all, something that would allow the nature of this fiber to shine. This would be the yoke of a sweater, shading from the soft, light blues of the surface of the ocean, through the fluttering greens of seaweed, down to the deep, murky depths. The rest of the sweater, perforce, needed to be something that wouldn’t detract from this vision. I settled on a light grey, to be a beautiful setting to this exquisite fiber. I also realized that to make this extra special, the yoke pattern could be mirrored on the cuffs. 

Once the vision was complete, I started spinning. I tore off a smallish strip lengthwise, and then split that in half evenly. I spun those two little rovings end to end, chain plied them, and finally I had these:

photo 3 (4)

Two little pieces of the ocean. I was entranced. I had to immediately start the larger chunk of roving for the yoke, and in record time I had three full bobbins! 

photo 1 (5)

Now, I was spinning for a 3-ply worsted weight, but it still went crazy fast. CRAZY. I plied it up in record time, and then finally I had what I wanted.

photo 2 (6)

It is absolutely perfect. I see the shifting shadows of the ocean reflected exactly in this yarn. I can’t wait to get it on my needles, because I’m hoping that I can design something that lives up to this. I have a lot of ideas, and a few sketches, and we’ll just have to see how it goes. There will probably be lots of ripping back and angry noises before it’s done, but I have faith that with enough perseverance, what currently exists only in my mind will be made manifest. 

And the yarn I got to go with it? 

photo 3 (5)

It actually matches a grey that exists in the handspun, and I think that it will serve as a lovely setting in which the jewel-like blues can shine. 

So there you have it. A little glimpse into my creative process. I think that what draws us to knitting (and blogging about it) is that it can be so personally expressive. It lets you take the images out of your head, and turn them into something tangible, something that will always evoke those daydreams for you. I’m imagining a girl on the Shetland Islands, wearing the sweater that I’m designing, looking out over the cliffs to the ocean, wind blowing through her hair as the sun tints everything gold. That’s only one imagining that goes into this. There’s also the idea of a mermaid, swimming deeper and deeper into the dark of the ocean. Inspiration comes from everywhere, and then when we turn it into something, it always exists as part of that thing, and that’s why I love knitting. (and designing, though I’m crap at it.) Personally it’s always been hard for me to share my thoughts with others, though I’m much better at it in a written medium than a spoken one. I don’t always know how to articulate things, but when I create something, instead of stumbling over the words I clumsily fail to say, I can just say “Look, this is a window into my mind. This is me, shown through what I have created.” And there’s something very special about that.

 

Anyway, I didn’t intend to get so contemplative, but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that we occasionally need to delve into what inspires us, and why. Where does your inspiration come from? 

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11 Comments

  1. Me? Usually oceans, rivers, and trees. But not always…
    Great post! I love your new yarn.

  2. I have not created my own patterns (not experienced enough), so it’s hard to say what inspires me.
    I do sometimes ‘see’ something in a pattern and it’s mostly due to the yarn and its colour. Perhaps in a much simpler but similar way to how you imagined your project out of the wool shades.
    If there was a textural dimension, or a motif like for example in lace, then I’d perhaps think of what that represents to me and why it attracted me – did it remind me of someone or some important value/idea, etc.
    Thanks for sharing your inspirational process – it was a very interesting reading!

  3. Your sweater idea sounds amazing! And the yarn is so gorgeous. I look forward to watching it come together. Me, I’m inspired by nature and sometimes intense dreams (yes, about knitting). 🙂

  4. I don’t really plan much, and most of my ideas come from out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s a picture or a scenery that I saw that gave me a flash, other times the yarn itself screams to me what it wants to be. My creation process is very eclectic, and I create on the spur of the moment. I guess it’s just very instinctive, wild and unpredictable 🙂

  5. Fabulous post! I’m inspired by reading blogs like yours! Can’t wait to see the sweater!!! 🙂 … now if I can only escape my toddler chickens and start spinning again… it’s been way too long…

  6. I love the new handspun and the view into your creative process! My inspiration is a lot of nature/animals, but I am trying to get started with patternmaking of my own using inspiration from interesting human anatomy (:

  7. Your sweater is going to be magnificent! I adore what you did with the roving and the story…*sigh* just yes 🙂

  8. Beautifully thought and beautifully said. 🙂 Also, great job with the handspun; I love the concept of an ocean you can hold in your hands…or wear for that matter.

  9. I understand what you mean about feeling like you want to get your crafting right, but at the same time not being maybe very spatially organized. Though I personally think if your apartment is too clean, you’re probably not laughing and knitting enough 😉 (at least it makes me feel better, ha!) I though, am willing to walk away from something that didn’t turn out how i wanted and not come back. It’s still a learning experience, but sometimes, I’m just done. I love the photos of the fiber coming to life.

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