I’m at that stage of developing a group of designs where I seem to be recording a lot of ideas and sketches in my journal. As I was working on something today, I looked back over a few of the spreads with ideas for the designs I’ve recently published – like the Yorlin one above. I use Fashionary panels to sketch my design ideas – as someone with zero facility with a pencil, they are ideal for my purposes – especially as my design ideas almost always involve envisaging a finished outfit – which I enjoy thinking through and have fun creating on paper. You can see that the Yorlin sketch, and finished Yorlin styling ended up pretty much as I’d imagined.
Here’s my Brilliant Corners journal spread
You can see from my notes that I’m considering the principle of the design: the hat is planned as an interesting experiment in what one might be able to do with the structure of 2×2 corrugated rib and 3 different shades of yarn. But I’m also thinking about the shirt and skirt – and belt – with which I’m interested in styling the hat.
When I started work on Brilliant Corners, I recall seeing a photograph from the late 1920s or early 30s of a woman, wearing a collared blouse and fairisle jumper and a hat pulled down deep over her forehead. She was striking a relaxed pose, leaning against a wall (or was it a bridge? I can’t remember) and smoking a cigarette (as one might have done when posing for a photograph back then). I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw the image, or what its context was, but the aspect of the woman depicted in it somehow found its way into my thinking about the hat, and how I’d like to style it. I strike a much less nonchalant figure, however.
The figure in my sketch is wearing a cropped chambray-blue jacket – which I’d imagined in a lightweight cotton / linen / mix, fitting neatly across the shoulders. This jacket does not actually exist – at least it doesn’t anywhere in my wardrobe – so I ended up in my favourite coat when styling Brilliant Corners instead. Perhaps one day, in my online vintage garment searches, I’ll track down my imaginary chambray-coloured spring-weight jacket, for it is something of an idée fixe.
Here’s the spread for Land o’Cakes, in which my slapdash, shonky sketching is definitely seen at its best!
I’d already decided that this cardigan would work well with the pair of chocolate brown culottes (with which it was eventually styled) – and as I started developing this design I was focusing on two things: the pattern’s oaty palette (I was in a definite brown / orange phase) and the possibilities of creating a yoke that I might have fun knitting on the hoof.
I did what my journal instructed me to do: decided on the rate and structure of the decreases, and took things as they came- and it was an awful lot of fun! And though I styled Land o’ Cakes with a different shirt than the rust-coloured top I’d originally envisaged, the finished photographs really do somehow resemble my journal sketch.
Finally, here’s the Coofle spread
This was a design with a clear and definite guiding principle, to: “use a series of motifs with small bands & decreasing stitch counts – using the naturally decreasing sts from each repeat to shape the yoke.” I spent quite a while designing and developing the Coofle yoke chart, ensuring that, as I put it here, that “shaping should occur between the bands, but will be unobtrusive – decreasing each motif by 2 sts each occasion.” The simple mathematics of the yoke required a few adjustments to this basic principle (for example, the final charted decrease is not from 6 to 4 but 6 to 5), but what I set out to do in the journal spread for this design was essentially what I did.
The pattern’s name – a Scots word for a game or puzzle – occurred to me after I’d figured this design’s puzzle out, and you can also see from the journal spread that I was already thinking about the styling – picturing the pullover with my favourite red skirt, and pair of trainers.
I thought you may find it interesting to hear about how, in my design work, I often start by imagining an outfit, and that when a project is complete and I look back upon the many elements that have made up my “inspiration”, a finished look almost always features somewhere in that mix.
I should close by mentioning that the journal I use is the one produced by us and Leuchturrm1917 and that the washi tapes that feature on the Land o’ Cakes, Brilliant Corners and Coofle page spreads were created by KDD’s good friend Felix, from her own original stranded colourwork designs. Felix currently has two different tape sets in her shop – and both are a delight!