A little reflection on the creative process
Designing knitting patterns for publication has a strange contradiction; on the one hand, knitting itself is a methodical, labour-intensive, and (if we’re lucky) meditative act. Although we might visualize the finished item to keep ourselves motivated, we have to focus on the present in order to avoid mistakes.
There’s no Undo command in knitting, so we have to Knit in the Moment. On the other hand, knitting design has to follow the calendar of the publishing industry. Designers, advertisers, printers, writers are all thinking in the future tense, often a year in advance.
Which is all good, it keeps things moving, and really forces you to finish ideas, projects. But I find that I don’t often have time to reflect on the process. I was flipping through a magazine just now, and didn’t recognize one of my own designs for a second, because I’ve already moved on in my mind to new design ideas.
So I thought this might be a good excuse to reflect and share a little of my creative process for Dylan, which was in Twist Collective Fall 2011.
The Twist moodboard included a music concert theme, and my mind went to old black and white photos of music pioneers like Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Bob Dylan. They know how to rock the most modest of clothes: scarves, trench coats, t-shirts, jeans, white shirts. And they know how to layer. I had a few sketches of jackets already, and being an 80s girl, I have a weakness for trenchcoats.
So my own moodboard (you can see part of it, above) was made up of iconic photos of these artists. The top left (Bob Dylan of course, and that must be a Richard Avedon photo) and bottom right (an unusually colourful photo of Patti Smith) ended up driving the mood of the project.
I wanted a classic trench shape, with deep pockets, a double-breasted front, and wide cuffs. Here’s the submitted sketch, on the left. Originally, I visualized a running stitch embellishment to simulate top-stitching.
But although it was easy to work the stitching, it seemed unnecessary for the pattern, so I took it out. Here’s what the jacket looked like with the stitching, on the right. It was very quick to do: just thread a contrast yarn on a tapestry needle, and run it in and out between two columns of stitches.