Thursday, April 10, 2008

the listless blogger tries to design

I am so not bloggy today. First of all there is our endless winter. Today it's 45 degrees F and raining a cold, drippy rain. It's always winter and never Christmas! Aslan save us. Here is a picture of this day in spring:

There is a tiny bit of green showing and that leads to my next blog blocker: I need to think about some renovations for my 20 year old garden. I am planning to spend our tax refund on landscaping. That won't cover all that needs to be done, but I need to make an overall plan so as to figure out how best to use the money this year. That has been nagging at me.

Third, I have an assignment from my volunteer job at the zoo to revise the fact sheet on on the African Straw Colored Fruit Bat.

Not a big job but messy in that I have to consolidate a bunch of information from different sources. Fruit bats are huge, live for 15 years in the wild, and roost in colonies of 100,000 to 1,000,000.

But don't worry, I do have some knitting talk. I finished with mittens for the moment and have been kntting a bit on my Kimono Shawl and trying to find inspiration for a new project. To that end, I had some correspondence over a week ago with Ruth of Ruthless Knitting and have been mulling it over since then.

Ruth is an amazing designer and, it seems to me, extremely productive. She mostly works on projects of her own design rather than published patterns. Now I have a lot of design ideas. I have even started a design sketchbook. But it always seems easier to knit a design that someone else has worked out. I don't think it's laziness. I think that I want to produce rather than fiddle around with trial and error. But I still have the urge to design for myself.

What gives me pause is this: Ruth says that she likes to work with yarn that she has on hand, trying to find an idea for it rather than trying to find yarn for a pattern or design idea. My thinking is the exact opposite. I get the idea for a finished garmet and try to work out how to make it and then try to find the right yarn for it. Oddly enough, as a knitter, I don't seem to be that inspired by yarn.

But I have been thinking about Ruth's design method and about the yarn I have on hand. Maybe I'll focus on the yarn a little more and about how best to use it. So yesterday I swatched Silky Wool:

It's really hard to photograph black yarn. I used 2 different needle sizes (5 and 6 US), a basic rib, and started a cable but got tired of it. I blocked the swatch and was surprised at how much better it looked. Usually I don't see as much difference after blocking. So I'll sit down with my sketchbook for the rest of the day and try to think of the best use for this yarn. (Actually I have an idea for a skirt that I had in the back of my mind while swatching, so the purity of the design process has already been compromised.)


Ruth said...

Sounds like a grand experiment! I have some Silky Wool of my own that I've been thinking about for some time. There is a sweater in my head, but I'm not convinced yet that it's the Right One. I do know that I want negative ease, since my understanding is that that yarn wants to grow.

Thanks for the kind words about my designs!

Wool Enough said...

Oooooh - Silky Wool! I just acquired two skeins, just to play with (Colors 02 and 40), because I've heard so much about this yarn and I'm eager to try a silk blend. I'm curious as to what gauge you get. The yarn is billed as a "DK" but there are 192 yards to 50 grams, which seems much like a fingering/sock yarn. Does it fluff up and fill out when washed?

willemtje said...

I suggest planting more evergreens, they give you so much pleasure when everything else is brown and barren. My absolute favourite is creeping rosemary, it flowers all through winter with small blue flowers.
Good luck with your garden plans

Willemtje, a Dutch knitter

Laura said...

We are completely in sync (minus the weather as it is sunny and postcard-perfect here in California).I spent yesterday with my notebook and pencil, fooling around and having a lovely mental knitting session. Blankets are fun but they really are a cop-out of attempting to design more of my sweaters, I think. I am eager to see where your swatching will lead you.

beverlyanne said...

Thank you for your coment and suggestions, WIllemtje. Evergreens are a great idea and much needed for color in this climate. Not a lot of broad-leaved evergreens stay green in winter here, but a few do. Needle-leaved evergreens do fine, although none are native to Northern Illinois.