I'm going to tell you a secret to my design work. It's probably the most important part of my process, and yet, it may seem insignificant. An essential part of my designing is not designing; it's doing nothing. I very easily become obsessed with doing the next project, finding the right stitch pattern & yarn, then getting the pattern worked out. I feel a constant pressure, because for every project I start to work on, I have the inspiration for 10 more. I work at another job as well as doing the online store, and teaching classes, so the time I have for knitting up my designs & writing patterns is very limited. It's really hard for me to take what precious design time I have, and choose to do nothing with it, but if I don't my work suffers. There is a magic to the creativity & inspiration that help me imagine what yarn could become as it travels through my hands and needles. Putting down my needles, packing up my yarn, and resting my mind & spirit gives breath to that ineffable world from which these designs evolve. In the letting go of self inflicted deadlines, and rigid ideas of how projects should work out; I find a softness and playfulness and joy again. This delightfulness can then be infused into my creations bringing them, and myself, more life. The work I do after doing "nothing" is easier, and truer to my vision. Solutions to problems come faster, so finishing patterns happens quicker with fewer mistakes.
It seems totally counter-intuitive, but experience has taught me that doing nothing actually allows me to accomplish more, better work than spending every available moment struggling through my designs. Try it for yourself. The next time a project is frustrating or exhausting you, put it away and rest, even if it is the only knitting time you have for the day. Refresh, then notice the increased quality of your work, and the renewed ability you have to problem solve as you knit your way through a pattern. "Knitting" or "Designing" time can mean putting your needles down, putting your feet up, and staring into the fire as you sip tea & daydream.
My knitting friends will tell you I have a huge problem with Startitis. I design and cast on projects at a furious pace. Problem is I'm forever dropping one project in favour of another shiny new one. This means for every finished project, I have 3 more cast on. Sometimes I have reevaluate the situation, and curb my cravings for new projects.
I saw the hashtag #100daysoffinishingwips last week, and I decided to jump on board. So far I finished a sweater that needed the ends sewn in and buttons, and I got a hat knit for my nephew. Then, although I did cast the next project on, this second cowl was a correction of a design that was in progress, so it wasn't really starting a new project...right?
Then the yarn arrived for a blanket I'm designing for a contest. Suddenly, I'm facing a dilemma. The blanket needs to be finished by mid May, so I needed to cast on immediately. Yesterday that is exactly what I did.
And thus 100 days of finishing WIPs was quickly cut to 5 days.
Now I'm wondering why I felt the need to put myself in that straight jacket. I often feel guilty about my non-linear progression towards my projects' completions, but life is not linear, logical, and controlled. Priorities shift as circumstances evolve. I choose ride the shifting winds of creativity, and change directions as I fly.
So as of today, to hell with rigid adherence to a hashtag overlord! I through off the shackles of linear tyranny, and dance gleefully through the blossoming fields of WIPs. FREEDOM!
I fell in love with Fleece Artist's National Parks yarn the first time I saw it, and so I got the go-ahead to start a design for each colourway. I'm chomping at the bit to get them done, as ideas spring wildly up inspired by the extraordinary colour designs of Jana Dempsey at Fleece Artist, and by the beauty and grandeur of the parks they represent. I only hope I can do both justice with my designs.
The first design from Fleece Artist's National Park Merino Slim Collection is off the needles, and heading to testing. Inspired by the rocky walls, and the many waterfalls in the Fjords; this cowl was the first pattern that popped into my imagination. It's called the Western Brook Pond Cowl, and you can see in the photo below, cliff walls reflected in the cables with the flowing glacier waters appearing as a simple lace. I've been to Gros Morne, and I will return very soon. And when I do, they may never get me to leave again.