Seeing Double

As you know, I’ve been working on a double knitting piece. This is the drawing that inspired it –

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There is a theme of spirals (I know. Shocking isn’t it. Me and spirals who’d have thought?!) and is an idea I’ve had in my head for a while. Now I’ve got the space to draw and play, it’s really fuelling my work. It reminds me of some of the drawings by Dr Seuss I loved when I was small. Trees with curls at the top and hands and fins that end in sweeps.

So what did this inspire?

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This is all curl and swirl and I love knitting it. There is plenty of interest to make this addictive. I’ve made the repeat so that when I finish the first one,  it can be rotated along a vertical axis, meaning the 2nd repeat is a mirror of the first. This gave me the inspiration for the design’s name. Lesieg. I used Dr Seuss as my starting point. Theodor Geisel – the man behind the nom de plume – also used the pen name “Lesieg” for some of his early work. “Lesieg” is the mirror of “Geisel” and utterly perfect for a design that mirrors itself front and back and that was inspired by my earliest reading memories and life long love of Dr Seuss.

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World Wide Knit In Public Day

Today is World Wide Knit in Public Day. (WWKIP).

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It was started in 2005 by Danielle Landes and has grown to  a week long event celebrating knitting. All over the world, knitters come together to bask in the joy of their creativity and to share ideas. There are undoubtedly events happening in yarn shops local to you. Here’s a list of UK events but if you can’t find anything, I’d encourage you to grab your knitting and your friends and go find a nice cafe/pub/park/library/market square/meeting point to sit in knit in. Similarly, if you always wanted to learn to knit but didn’t know how, a quick Ravelry search should direct you to a group near you. Don’t be afraid. Knitters are generally lovely, a good laugh and more than happy to enable!

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A Day Off

The current samples have been sent to the studio and the latest commission was popped in the post this morning. I ran some errands and sent off some emails to tidy up some loose ends. With this natural break in work, I’ve decided to take the rest of the day and tomorrow off.

Of course giving myself some time off gives me that whole “what shall I do?” dilemma. I enjoy the sunshine but not the heat so I tend to hide away in the cool with all the windows wide open. I’m going to make the most of this time to work on some works in progress. There’s the lovely double knitting design I started a couple of weeks ago that’s singing it’s siren song. As I may have mentioned, this is likely to become a design I sell on Ravelry, so while it’s fun knitting for me, it may become work at some point.

Regardless of it’s destination. I’m taking the chance to crank through a bit of this and should be ale to show you something soon. Then you may be able to help me come up with a name for the design.

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Time Management

Yesterday we went to the cinema to see Maleficent. It was fantastic and as we sat there, my brain started to fizz with ideas and patterns.

The previous evening we’d been at a BBQ at my friend Lucy’s house. She’s a fellow knitter and she was showing me yarn combinations exclaiming she didn’t know what to knit with them. Would she like me to design something for her? Her eyes lit up as we discussed what she wanted and stitch ideas. There’s a definite idea which is very exciting.

Then there’s the shawl idea that’s been living in my head and on paper for the last 8 months, waiting for me to get to it.

And let’s not forget about sweater designs, sample knitting, sock wrangling, patterns on needles and all the other things that require my attention.

The point is not “Poor me, I have so much to do” more, “How will I ever get to all these things?” because I want to do all of them. And for the most part, I am the only one who can do them. The fledgling ideas are in my head waiting for me to give them wings. The WIPs are on my needles waiting for me to work out and fine tune the details. I know being in the studio helps. There are less distractions and I get through an amazing amount of work but each stitch takes time.

When you consider the work of Michaelangelo and Raphael, it can make you dizzy. Then you remember they had teams of people doing all the colouring in for them. They had the ideas and then passed them on to others to complete. I don’t have that luxury and nor would I want it, but I do need to find away of working through my ideas and developing things to a finished object in a way that makes me feel at my most productive.

Maybe I’m already there and this is just how designer/makers feel. Maybe my system just needs a tweak to make it run at it’s optimum. If anyone knows the answer please feel free to share their thoughts.

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Bucks Open Studio

It’s been all go round here. Non-stop surprise parties, birthday celebrations and unexpected babies. (Other peoples not mine) In amongst this I’ve been working on a commission.

The next few weeks look like they’re going to be busy too as Commercial Square Studios gear up for Bucks Open Studios

For the next 3 weeks, studios all over Buckinghamshire will be open to the public. It’s a chance for people to explore art in their area and to meet the makers. There is such a wide range of creative people, from painters, furniture designers and textile artists  to potters, silversmiths and ceramicists. I think there may even be knitwear designers in the High Wycombe area!

If you don’t live in Buckinghamshire, there’s bound to be a similar scheme in your area and I’d urge to combine a great day out with discovering and supporting local talent. If you do live in the Buckinghamshire, feel free to stop by. I’ll have the kettle on.

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Physician. Knit Thyself.

Today was my first day back at work but I finished early – after all it is a Bank Holiday. The problem I had was that all my knitting had turned to “meh”. There was nothing I felt like knitting. I’ve spent part of my 2 week “holiday” working on either sock blankie or my spiral scarf. I love both of them but I wanted a break. So I looked at my other WIPs. Nothing. Nothing I wanted to work on.So I though I’d cast on a new thing. I looked through my Ravelry queue because there is plenty there to have me reaching for a fresh ball of yarn Believe me. Today, however, the earth didn’t even tremble.

What ever was I going to do?

Then I remembered. I’m a designer. I should design something.

I looked in my stash to find a yarn that spoke to me since that is never a problem. I found some lovely soft grey with silver sparkles in it. Oooo! At the same time I was hunting around for a different yarn that I’d mislaid. (It turned out I’d put it somewhere else whilst I sorted my stashes for the studio move). When I put sparkle yarn and mislaid yarn together … well. It had the desired effect. In fact I found a third yarn which worked even better with sparkle yarn so that’s what I went with. And what did I decide to knit? I opened my design programme and started doodling. I’ve had some thoughts for a double knitted scarf I’ve wanted to design but these were pretty nebulous thoughts. Just impressions of lines. But it was a start. So I gently doodled them. An hour or so later, I had a design I was really happy with. I grabbed my yarn and cast on. And fell instantly in love. Seriously I’m so excited by this pattern. It’s something that is quite new for me in terms of design which I suppose is part of the thrill but it’s also the combination of yarns and the fact that I can see progress with each row. There is a strong element of instant gratification with this project. The progress is steady – there’s 60 stitches of double knit pattern per row but I’m hoping to have something to post here by the weekend.

There is no name for it yet but it’s starting to whisper to me. When I know, I’ll shout it loud!

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Wish List

My Uni students are coming to the end of their classes which means the Summer is fast approaching and I will have some more time to spend at the studio.

This has got me thinking about the sorts of projects I’d like to be more involved in. Moreover it’s a list of people I’d love to work with. This is a fantasy list. I’m sure you’re expecting lots of design houses and whilst there are some fashion designers, there’s quite a few other artists. Within this wish list there is a recurring theme of sculpture and construction but there are names of people from other fields. For me it’s about taking knitting as a method of construction and manipulating it in the same way as any other material. It’s a case of “I know what it can do but what else can I get it to do?”

I’m not attaching any expectation to this list. It just is. It is an exercise in having fun with my work and exploring creativity in a different way.

If you could work with anyone, who would it be?

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Will I Ever Learn

My husband jokes that I don’t have a work ethic. I just don’t have a stop button. He may have a point.

We’re house sitting for his mum at the moment. Whilst she’s away I offered to do some gardening. As you know she’s  moved and inherited a garden that, whilst is not a jungle, does have areas that need some work. There are borders that need weeding, plants to be dug up and bushes to be tamed. I am more than up for a challenge and even added a task of my own. Digging over the area the size of a modern town house that is covered in weeds. Oh and did I mention I was still working on samples and commissions?

The sharp readers will immediately spot the problem. I did not.

Fortunately the British weather stepped in to stop this foolishness by turning up the temperature and making it too hot for me to work. I’m a delicate skinned Celt. To me, that thing is the sky is a fiery ball that drains me of my strength and power. I slapped on the industrial strength sun block and scowled at my foe.

My plans had to be revised. This caused me some anxiety because I felt I’d failed and let my mother-in-law down. As my targets slipped further away, I realised that the fact we’d done anything was good. The fact that I was still knitting samples and commissions was pretty incredible. So today I shall be finishing the gardening. There’s just 11 bags of green waste to take to the local dump and then I will sit back and admire my work.

I’m not sure I’ll ever find my stop button, but I have found “pause”.

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One Stash, Two Stash, Lace Weight, Sock.

The other day I made a rather flippant comment on Twitter that generated quite an interesting debate. The question I asked was

Is it wrong i have 2 stashes?

First of all, I feel this needs a little qualification. I have a stash for work and a stash for my own personal knitting. There is occasional crossover but as a general rule, my more expensive yarn is in my stash and the more experimental “fibre” (some of it is paper) lives in my work stash. If I’m designing a sock, I do tend to use personal stash, if I’m designing a shawl or stole, I often buy something specific. Samples are knitted out of the work yarns and commissions tend to supply the yarn themselves.

Of course this question was posed to knitters who may have been biased. As I pointed out “I suspect no knitter will say ‘Yes. You will burn for such decadence'”, but it did raise a debate of what constitutes “stash”. For me the answer is simple. All the yarn that I possess is stash. This is why I have 2. It’s a practical thing based on boring tax stuff and because my work stash tends to use harder wearing *acrylic* yarns. My personal stash is a glorious mixture of sock, lace, chunky and cobweb weight yarn. They are separated into boxes so similar weights live together but to me it’s all one collection of yarny yuminess.

As other people commented on what “stash” is to them, the different interpretations were interesting. Some subdivided and organised their collection as I do but each subdivision was a stash. Even the way people did this separation intrigued me. Whether it was by weight, colour or even dyed and undyed, people found different ways of organising their yarn.

Then there was the person who had small piles of yarn “all over the place”. Each one of these was counted as a stash. I had a glorious image in my head of a knitter desperately wandering around a house with the small piles of yarn acting as a sort of fix from one room to the next. Like leaving chocolates lying around in case a passing diabetic needs emergency sugar to prevent themselves slipping into a hypoglycaemic coma.

Some people had one stash,  others had multiples. Maybe a better question would be –

What constitutes a stash?

There are no wrong answers here but I find the answers fascinating. Do we as knitters break up our stash when we fear approaching SABLE?* Do we dot it around our homes so there is always that sense of (re)discovery? Do we feel we have a better control over our yarn if we organise it? The curious thing to note here is at no time did anyone ever question if they would ever actually knit all their stash. Lets be honest., that’s not what a yarn collection is really about is it? Whatever the definition of stash is to you, it’s lovely just to sit with it. Or roll around in it. Like a yarny Smaug.

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*SABLE = Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. A term coined by the wonderful Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for the stash that is so large that even if you were to only knit for the rest of your life, you would not use all the yarn within it.

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Current Inspiration

Boy and I are currently house-sitting for his mum. I love being here because I get to play in a fabulous garden. I always find it inspiring to wander around and see what I notice. Would you like to come with me?

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Movement within the squares.

Movement within the squares.

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3-D shapes brings me back to my paper folding work

3-D shapes brings me back to my paper folding work

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A tangle of branches.

A tangle of branches.

I see lines and curves.

I see lines and curves.

Lines and reflections.

Lines and reflections.

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This is one of my favorite flowers.

This is one of my favourite flowers.

Everywhere are lines and shapes that lead me to knitting. I see areas of short row shaping or techniques that I can’t wait to put together and try out.

I’ll share what I can with you over the next few weeks.

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