5 weeks of knitting season

We are five weeks in to the Knitting Season Club – a three month exploration of creative making (and handknit design), following a format that’s a little different to previous clubs, with weekly essays and creative assignments as well as the usual collection of new patterns.

These essays have been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the club for me so far: I research and write something a wee bit polemical about a particular aspect of creativity, and Tom illustrates my ideas. This is his design for my essay about how we might try to engage purposefully with our limits rather than attempt to ‘overcome’ them: the words Within Limits rendered in the shape of Frida Kahlo’s prosthesis. Having learned an awful lot about the usefulness of limits from my experience of brain injury and disability, this image perfectly captures my thoughts about the wisdom of limitation. I just love it!

Our “words” and “pictures” division of labour works very well for Tom and I as a general basis for collaboration. It has been a lot of fun working with him on this project: here are his illustrations for my Don’t Ask essay (in which I discuss Mary Delany’s floral collages) and Mess Up (which focuses on Ella Fitzgerald’s memorable improvisatory performance of How High the Moon in February, 1960)

. . . and his illustrations for Repeat Yourself week (which explored Johannes Brahms St Antoni Variations) and Stay Put (in which I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Hokusai’s views of Mount Fuji)

Tom and I have very different approaches to creativity — my approach might be summed up as make-a-mess and his approach as make-it-perfect — and it has been interesting to reflect on those differences, too, as I research and write. So much that’s written about creativity seems to attempt to pin it down and prescribe a path towards it, but I think the whole point of my book, really, is that there absolutely isn’t a single type of creativity, or a single ‘best’ way to ‘be’ creative – you just need to find your way and feel comfortable with it. Because of that, not all my essays will be relevant to everyone – but hopefully a few of them will ring true! Feeling comfortable with your own creative approach is what this club is all about and it has already been hugely rewarding for me to see the different responses to the essays and creative assignments that club members are sharing. All of my essays (and Tom’s illustrations too) will be included in the book we are publishing which will go out to all club members in the Spring as part of their subscription, and will also be separately available for anyone who is interested (knitter or otherwise).

I’ve also released several new designs over the past few weeks, each of which is connected to the theme of each week’s essay and creative assignment. The Knitting Season pullover, for example, was chosen for Don’t Ask week (because this design involves an intuitive mash-up of intarsia and stranded knitting rather than a pre-prescribed technique).

In week 2 I released the Knitting Season hat – in which I explored the theme of repetition by finding different uses for the same motif.

Then the following week, I released the Weel Riggit hat and pullover patterns – working Within Limits by using a simple (and restrictive) 4 stitch pattern repeat.

In Week 4 I Stayed Put by exploring the same basic raglan garment shape, but interpreting it rather differently, with welted stripes rather than stranded colourwork.

I had a lot of fun creating Strodie

. . . and photographing it too!

Finally, last week I explored play and colour by Messing Up with the Dathan hap and gloves.

These patterns both use the full 15-shade palette of Milarrochy Tweed, and suggest a range of different ways in which each individual knitter might improvise within a stripe-y frame. I think the results of this simple colour play are really pleasing!

What I love most about these patterns is that every iteration is completely different (I was helped developing these patterns by a brilliant group of test knitters whose work you can see here).

You can still join the Knitting Season club if you are interested: you’ll receive all the patterns released so far, all of those to come, 12 weekly essays, a 10% discount on everything in the KDD shop and 2 books (the pattern collection and my creativity book) posted out to any address worldwide. There are 7 fun-filled weeks to come, and an exciting range of patterns and assignments (including a particularly special project that will be released for March 8th – International Women’s Day).