A Design from Start to Finish (how this designer earns her keep)

Color On the Move Scarf
Color On the Move Scarf

This new design just published a few days ago went through a long process. To be fair, it did sit in the yarn closet for half a year or more to ponder its sins when I got unhappy with it and considered scrapping the whole thing altogether. Usually when I work on a design, I am very focused, and although I put in the hours, it doesn’t take as long in a calendar year because I work better when I’m focused.

I really enjoyed this book because I appreciate it when designers share their sketches and thought processes. Since this particular project was on the needles for a long time, I was extra careful to document everything, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing my process from start to finish. Unfortunately, I don’t have beautiful sketches like Galina’s, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!


It started with The Yarn. I had just bought Freia Ombre Sport and had been toying around in my head with how to best show it off. I’m really nuts for gradated yarns and was so in love with this particular one I left it sitting on my coffee table to just look at.


The inspiration - which hit me on the way to the metro.
The inspiration – which hit me on the way to the metro.

When I was on the way to the metro station one evening, I saw the sun setting with the graphic shapes of the telephone poles and found my inspiration.


I usually do sketches, especially for garments, but the only shortcut I took in this project was to skip the sketching process since I had a visual in my head. So on to the knitting…


The first version
The first version

This photo is the first version. Yes, I got quite a long way in the knitting, and took careful notes and records of everything. I could still write up the stranded version of this pattern, minus the gauge, if anyone wanted it. I was actually quite happy with how this was looking. Considering I skipped the sketching and just started knitting what was in my head, it’s pretty cool I got what I envisioned.

Then my mom came to visit, I showed her the design I was working on, and she gave it to me straight. She flipped it over and pointed out that there were an awful lot of floats on the back. Um, yeah, because just like stockinette stitch curls, colorwork involves floats. Innocently, she looked at me and asked if I thought people would like a scarf with all those floats that could pull so easily.


I really tried to rationalize this one. People spend alot of money to dry clean expensive fabrics. Knitters are used to little pulls and ends that need to be woven back in. Yes, floats on a scarf are much more likely to snag than on a sweater, since on a sweater, they’re all on the inside against the body. But, I thought, it’s not any more fragile than taking care of a lace shawl, and at least this yarn is thicker and much harder to break than laceweight.

But, as mothers tend to do, mine really got into my head, and so this design went to sit in the naughty closet until I could resolve the issue. It took the better part of a year before I found a satisfactory answer.


Closeup_mediumI might still make a colorwork scarf one of these days because I do like colorwork and I stand by my rationalizing. But when I went to Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena earlier this year, I took a class with Franklin Habit on shadow knitting and loved it. I realized that I had just found a solution that would make my mother much happier, should I still decide to gift her with the finished product. 🙂

Shadow knitting lends itself quite nicely to shapes and playing with contrasting colors. I knew it would show off the beautiful gradations in this yarn and also better express my original inspiration. Once I realized shadow knitting was  the solution that had eluded me, I tore out all my work and knit the entire thing in a month.


My chicken scratch
My chicken scratch

Last, but certainly not least, is the pattern writing. I spend alot of time on this. I take very careful notes about everything, as I’m knitting. I NEVER knit the whole thing and then start writing because it’s impossible to keep all the details in my head throughout the course of the project. The most important part of pattern writing is making sure that whoever buys it and knits it is able to understand exactly what I did. I make my own charts, take my own photos, and do all my own graphic design. I also am very careful to read, reread, let it sit a few days, and then reread it again before I publish. This is not to say there is never a mistake, but I work very hard to keep mistakes to a minimum because I know how frustrating it is to deal with a carelessly written pattern. Even though this is the most tedious part of the process for me, I try to give it proper attention and time.

I am very happy with the result, and I hope if any of you make the pattern, you enjoy it too. If you are a designer, I’d love to hear about your process, and if you make any of my designs, I’d love to see your projects – in progress and/or finished!

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