Sunday, January 30, 2011

Designing Women

I was at my wrap-up marathon party on the week-end and I wore a sweater that I had knit (the Sunrise Circle jacket by Kate Gilbert). This is a sweater that I love. I loved knitting it - it was a simple stockinette stitch that morphed into this most incredible design, created by strategic increasing (and some decreasing, but really, mostly increasing). There were no sleeves to sew in (the bane of my knitting existence) and still, it is one of those sweaters that people just love. But when people say "You are so creative" I really want to say - "No, not me", because I think that the creativity is in the design, not the execution. And I know that this is at some level really wrong - we women always downgrade out talents and skills with a "Pfff - this old thing" kind of attitude.

But if I can put that thought aside for a minute - the designers out there in knitting land - there are some wicked talented people there. Kate Gilbert (Sunrise Circle, Samantha Roshak, Ysolda Teague (Vivian) - these are just three that I can think of at the moment (oh, I just thought of several more - Anne Hanson, Cat Bordhi,
Kirsten Kapur) - and these are just a few whose patterns I have knit or have queued in Ravelry. (Now the hamster is running - Fiona Ellis, Cookie A., Norah Gaughn, Jared Flood). Every time I knit a design (really, almost any design) I am blown away by the thought that has gone into the design process - for example, in this sweater that I just finished (Vivian), the body is knit to the underarms and then the sleeves are knit and then they are joined together in a really cool manner that incorporates the cable pattern and then slides into the shoulder, which turns into the hood - you really would need to think outside the box to put this all together. Well, I would have to think outside the box.

See I don't think I have a design bone in my body. I am one of those "follow the pattern" - and if I incorporate a change, it is not because I thought about it ahead of time. It's usually because I made a mistake and rather than rip it all out, I incorporate it into my garment. And I would really like to be able to create in that manner or really, in any manner, since I can play the piano (but not by ear and certainly not my own compositions) and I can write a little bit - but I have never really had a thought about writing a book or anything. This blog is my first foray into any kind of public writing.

The only thing I have created has been my children (in collaboration with my husband) and they are still a work in progress (I guess we all are, when you think about it). When I read about people who are "thinking" about starting to design things, it really takes my breath away, because it never even occurs to me to think about it, let alone try.

I suppose like most things, it starts small - there is an urge to find just the right garment (be it sweater or cowl) and when it can't be found, the person in question sketches out her own ideas and after some pain (probably a lot of pain) and lots and lots of ripping and re-knitting (and swearing) then the whole thing comes together.

Sometimes, I want to say "Why, yes, I knit this. Oh, and I designed it too." (I draw the line at saying I spun the wool. Despite having a spinning wheel, I have never gone beyond the rudimentary stages of learning to spin - for me that would be crazy making.) But really? That is not me - so I guess I should just say "Thank you - I did knit it" and leave it at that.

The world has to have everyone in it - the people who design, the people who spin, the people who knit. If we all just designed, there wouldn't be much of a market to cater to. Ditto for the spinners and the knitters.

But I do wish that the muse had given me just a tetch of the creative mode - just a bit.

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