Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knitwear design

My hand knitting pattern designer web site --went live in August 2002. How long have I been a knitwear designer? How long?

A Secret
Being in a couple demands compromise and adaptation. Odd behaviours, unusual habits are overlooked or tolerated.
My husband could write a manual on the proper care and feeding of knitters --or at least the proper care and feeding of this knitter.
He has learnt to approach me with caution as there may be a sharp knitting needle lurking nearby.
He has learnt to secure my need for privacy --averting the curious by the comment, "Oh, yeah, she's just knitting yet another sweater." Yawn.
He feeds me knitting gadgets, knitting baskets, knitting magazines, and knitting books. He bravely ventures into yarn shops where he skilfully identifies and matches dye lot numbers.
In a world of knitters and non-knitters, he is a knitter lover.
We knitters are weird. We can't hide it. Knitter lovers tolerate our unusual knitterly ways.
When I was a newlywed, I wasn't that unusual. I didn't have an enormous yarn stash. I didn't coo and fondle angora. I didn't name my lopi skeins --Valdi and Guna.
No, I was just an ordinary knitter --ordinary in all ways, but one.
You see I had a secret, a secret that Byron helped me keep. I never used a pattern.
I knew that most knitters used patterns. I had been taught to follow one. My mom encouraged me to use this skill. I refused. I stubbornly beat my own path through skein after skein of yarn.
Byron had been raised by a knitter. In fact, he had descended from a long line of knitters. All had used patterns. All had --I didn't.
He must have noticed that I never reproduced a single imagine from any book or magazine. Yet, he never asked why. He never commented at all. My secret was safe.
I proudly wore my creations to work. I was safe in that land of non-knitters. I received compliments, but no one asked to borrow the pattern.
Then, one day, out of the blue, a co-worker enquired, "Hey, Leanne that's a cool top. Can I borrow the pattern? I'll get my mom to knit it for me."
"I don't have the pattern," I replied in a hushed voice, trying to stay calm.
"Really? Well, okay then, just tell me where I can buy it."
"You can't buy it."
"Why not?"
I blushed. "Because I didn't use a pattern." My secret was out.
She stood there, silently, starring at me. Finally, she said, "You...didn't...use...a...pattern. You designed it. You designed your sweater. You're a designer."
A designer? Me? I suppressed a snicker. I couldn't wait to get home and share this joke with Byron. Oh, those silly non-knitters.
How I Design
I begin with a pen, paper, yarn and knitting needles.
I begin with an idea --thoughts on a design that may become reality. I am inspired by nature, current fashion or simply thin air.
I begin with knowledge --knowledge gleaned from resource books written by other knitwear designers. Other designers who have cared enough to offer me assistance --ways and means of recording my design.
I begin with the wish that my efforts yield a design.
I begin with the understanding that I may abandon my knitting needles and have nothing to show for the hours I have invested.
I begin with knitting needles firmly in my hands and hope in my heart.
In THE SWEATER CURSE, we meet Gwen Bjarnson and learn how she became a knitwear designer.
Tomorrow meet knitwear designer Stephanie Tallent

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