Although I may not know what day it is on any given week (since leaving my 9-to-5 they do tend to blur), I am clear about my goals for each day and importantly, how much knitting time will be allowed. I'm a planner, aiming to launch one design a month, and of the many things I've learned over these past few years, most prominent is to make the plans but hold them loosely. I've come to let the knitting gods take lead. It's been a hard fought lesson at times to be sure as I struggle to stay visible on the internet's indie designer landscape, but ridiculous to resist. The beauty is in the process, I tell myself. The rest just happens as it does.
Last January Laura was among my tasks at hand, plucked from my pattern rewrite to-do list (a list that now numbers an ambitious 34). I know this because I track my time – a hold-over from my days working IT for customer billing. I'm my own customer now and I like to see where I've been. In January I had taken a step in Laura's direction, then retreated as Lucy, Ethel, Happy Thought, and finally Robin's Song designs came into view, one after the other. I had gone along with their flow and it was April before I was able to circle back. Created in 2013, I knew Laura's pattern text would benefit from the tweaks to format, abbreviations and phrasing I'd undertaken since my Linda scarf publication by Quince & Co. I'd learned a lot from them and since, have been determined to perfect all designs that had come before it. I would now give Laura's rewrite a week and happily check it off before embarking on a yet-to-be-determined new design offering for May.
I started with her sleeves – such delightful lace – and noticed how instructions would be so much more sensible if the shaping was worked on the wrong side rows instead of the right, away from the complexity of the stitch pattern. I revised the math slightly, and just to be sure, reknit one as sample using some Chickadee wool I had on-hand (2 skeins of the parsley color, a very nice green, leaving 2 more in the drawer). The sleeve was perfect. I put it to the side and continued.
Since charting the shaping of this lace would provide a reassuring double-check on my text and be helpful to the knitter, next I went off on that. It turned out to be definitely useful and a worthwhile pursuit, but for all 7 sizes, tragically time consuming for my plan. By now my self-allotted time limit for Laura's rewrite was pretty much up and I was growing anxious to have a new design underway. I tabled Laura – promising myself that it was only until I posted the next design. I would return to it then and get it checked off my list.
Laura begot Farrah
With calculations for Laura's sleeves all worked out and charted, it made sense to jump from these. I paired them with the simplicity of Lucy's cropped cardigan, still fresh in my mind, reusing its shape in the hopes of saving some time with measurements. I imagined the design (that I would eventually name Farrah) in a soft pink, and placed an order with Quince & Co. for more Chickadee wool, in their shell color this time. Then I started writing out the pattern. Working from completed pattern text and making edits along the way, is much more enjoyable to me than stopping to calculate, write, and restart. I've done it both ways and definitely have a preference. By the time the wool arrived the pattern was ready and knitting commenced. And after several focused days the bodice was done and blocking. It was then I saw the flaw – the side shaping/lace conflict that could not remain. I unraveled it back to its hemline and while waiting for these curly strands to relax, began knitting the sleeves with the unused skeins I had left. Fast forwarding through the tale of a few more trials, the third turned out to be the charm for finally getting things right. May delivery gave way to Farrah's early June publication, and my familiar monthly design delivery angst persisted. Despite my plan, Laura remained tabled.
Farrah begot Uncloudy Skies
Betting on the promise of a second June release to catch up on my publishing quota, and remembering that perfect parsley green sleeve... is how Uncloudy Skies, my next and most recent design, got started. I took its name from a Willie Nelson song off of one of Marlene's CDs. Making use of my stashed yarn was a plus so I ordered 3 more parsley skeins of Chickadee to supplement those I had left. With 1 sleeve done, I planned to knit up another with available wool and take it from there. While waiting for delivery I began the pattern.
I soon realized that I couldn't be sure of its length at this initial stage, which is a problem when you're working from the hem to the neckline. So I turned my plan upside down. Working the pattern top-down (neckline to hem) – the logical creative choice for my uncertainty – now required new math, new charts, and no time saved. I unraveled and reknit that perfect sleeve from cap to cuff. Then I knit the next one.
When the supplemental yarn arrived, I found, to my dismay, that its dye lot difference was dramatic. That happens. The original skeins were bought a long time before. I took a shot at alternating strands in the hopes of a gradual blending but got stripes, so resorted instead to color blocking. The sleeves would remain in the original lighter green along with the upper bodice, while the lower bodice and trim would be worked in the new darker shade. I allowed the yarn I had left of the original lot to dictate the bodice's lace point transition – that serendipitously turned out to occur at a point just below the waist where I initially imagined it would. Knitting gods?
After blocking, assembling, trimming, and steaming, I tried on the now finished version again (there had been numerous try-ons along the way). Something wasn't right, but what? Then I realized it was the neckline. With further tucking, pinning, and brainstorming, I finally just turned the damn thing around making the back the front – yes, we can count this among my hard fought learning episodes – and viola! A simple gesture, that revealed a chic solution, required only a brief pattern rewrite but A COMPLETE RESTART. Knitting gods.
I reordered wool, this time in the Bird's Egg blue (a better, though unintended, match for its name) and reknit the whole thing. It's just right this time, I'd say, finally right, and Uncloudy Skies publication is planned for next week. I'll update this post and send out a tweet upon its release.
Laura's rewrite is still next on the list, but I'll see how it goes. The beauty is in the process, I tell myself. The rest will just happen as it does.
Update – Uncloudy Skies published 7/17/2017.