Hello, my Fine Fibrous Friends. Perhaps that should include my Fine Furry Friends, too:-
Lately I’ve been working on a design for a Stylecraft Blogstars promotion that’ll hit a yarn shop or a screen and perhaps even some knitting needles near you this summer. The knitted version is nearly done, and if possible, I’ll create a crocheted version too. I’m not allowed to say much about the work in progress, so in the meantime please can we all just indulge my delusions of genius and assume that the finished garment will be an unusually beautiful example of technical perfection, yeah? But what on earth could I illustrate this post with instead? Oh yes, kittens. I think it’s fair to say that Hunter and Jack have settled in here at Twisted Towers.
But I did want to say something about the design process, for those of you who’ve never experienced this roller-coaster of emotion. Perhaps some designers breeze through the whole thing, confident that their creative decisions are wise, that their gauge swatches tell the honest truth, that they won’t forget to write down what size needles they used to knit the ribbing, and that the garment that drops neatly off their needles way ahead of the deadline is a fair representation of their original creative vision.
Perhaps.Dear reader, that is not what usually happens here at Twisted Towers. Please allow me to break the design process down into its four stages of GRITTY PERSONAL INADEQUACY.
1. The Vision. This is the best stage, the very best stage. Anything is possible. An entrelac representation of the gestation of squirrels. Lacework explaining tectonic drift. Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle reproduced as cables. Whatever idea excites your cerebral neurons, it’s an example of yarnsome wit. Definitely. Nobody has ever before attempted such a feat. Quite frankly, you’re a genius. What could possibly go wrong?2. The Brutal Reality-Slap Of Despair. Oh dear. Oh deary deary deary dear. In what feels like a haddock-slap to the face of my wide-eyed ambition, it turns out that there’s a reason why nobody has ever before published anything like this new idea. Who knew?! Certainly not me, in my hubristic belief in my own genius. Sigh. Lesson grudgingly learned. It turns out that I’m not an iconoclastic visionary, and frankly, this smarts. It’s tempting to weep into my pinot grigio and never design anything ever again. It’s tempting to take up an easier and less distressing hobby such as crocodile-wrestling.3. The Grudging Acceptance Of What Can Realistically Be Achieved By Mere Mortals. This stage is tough, properly tough. It’s time to rip out several tens of hours’ work, to dodge the cats’ claws as you wind the yarn back into usable balls, and to begin again. And again. You can give up at this stage, or you can decide that you’re going to put in the slog to make this thing succeed. I learned long ago that it’s never wise to ignore that little voice grumbling that some aspect of your work isn’t quite right: it’s a voice that never ever ever gets any quieter. Every rip-back-and-start-again is painful, but it leads to something better. The ripping and reworking is an inescapable part of progress. Once you can see this as a good and exciting thing and not an annoying thing, you’re on your way to success.4. The Outcome. OK, maybe the finished item is Not Too Bad. It may bear limited resemblance to your madly ambitious original vision, but that’s OK, as long as you’ve let yourself rework the design as many times as was necessary to achieve a version that triggered an inner smile of, ‘I’m proud of that’. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know when you’ve at long last achieved a design that is good.It’s been interesting chatting with the other Blogstars about their experiences of the design process. We have a long-running WhatsApp group where we discuss all sorts of yarny and less-yarny things. Helen was saying recently that she finds it difficult to design on demand, which made me reflect that I’m perhaps the opposite. (She gave me permission to say this here, by the way – I keep secrets for a living in my day-job, so I’m not about to become a snitch regarding people’s private stuff.) Give me a wide open canvas and I’ll stagger around feeling pitifully lost and uninspired until I face-slam into a tree and fall over. But tell me quite specifically that you need a 14cm-high crocheted lampshade on the theme of the Taj Mahal in lace-weight purple alpaca by next Tuesday afternoon, and I’M YOUR WOMAN. I love that our approaches to design are so very different, and I love that the resulting patterns we create are so diverse. It would be kinda awkward if we were all churning out similar stuff but clearly, that’s never going to happen. Long may we diverge.And one day soon, I’ll pause the cat photos for long enough to show you my new design for Stylecraft. I’ve been working and reworking it, so I hope that you’ll like it.