Yesterday, since it was a day off from my real job, turned into a full day of work for my design job. I sketched, I swatched, I wrote descriptions and construction notes. I roughed out basic directions for 4 different patterns, and cast on for one new one. In short I spent the whole day (far more then 8 hours) working on designs.
I have a lot of trouble gauging how long this process will take. In my head I can already see the way the finished object should look, and so I assume it’ll be a quick process. But getting it out of my head and onto paper isn’t quick. Frequently I have the basic construction idea in my head, but writing out the flow of the project makes me realize that something isn’t going to work (or will look really funny) and I have to rethink the plan of attack. Or I have the perfect idea for a gorgeous neckline, and then I realize I have no plan at all for binding off the lower hem… And then sometimes I think something will work out, until I try to swatch is and realize that you can’t make invisible decreases in that stitch pattern. Oops…
Finally when the swatch is done I still need to sketch out what the whole garment will look like. For most submissions the designer doesn’t knit the whole garment ahead of time. Most magazines or yarn companies want to have a say in which yarn is used, or ask to change a detail of the garment, so I don’t start knitting until I know where the pattern will be published. I’m lucky to have taken a costume design class in college (I needed some fine arts credits, and a class that involved sewing historical garments seemed like more fun then art history) and so I have actual training in sketching garments on the human figure. When I took the class I never realized how much it would help me!
I do my swatching on the couch (or the front lawn, or in a canoe) but I do most of the rest of this work in my new design studio. Over the summer Neil and I converted a loft sort of area on the second floor into my space. I hang swatches and yarn company postcards on the walls. I leave knitting out all over any table I want. I block sweaters and shawls on the floor, and I’m never in anyone’s way. Over the weekend it looked like this:
A sketchbook, some colored pencils, some cable ideas on post its on the wall. Those are swatches for not-yet-accepted designs above the table. It’s a great place to work, and to think fibery thoughts.