Intentionality: Creative Process


I consider myself a crafter, defined as what I perceive to be a hobby. I mostly knit and spin, while occasionally dabbling in the sewing or dyeing project, creating as a general term. I consider architecture to be my professional field, having gone to architecture school and learned the design process and working in the design field as my day to day job. But inexplicably, I’ve always felt there to be a complete dichotomy between those two passions of mine.

More recently, however, I’ve realized the innate relationship between the two disciplines. While some might see it to be obvious, the idea of creating and designing has finally become clearer. To get from the tail (beginning) to the arrowhead (perceived ending) the designer/creator will have to take a steps back for steps taken forward. In knitting terms, this means swatching, frogging, swatching some more, liking it, casting on, realizing it’s not quite right, frogging, swatching again, etc. In design terms, it means redesigning a floor plan and/or rearranging spaces, etc for the 100th time, sometimes (often) going back to an idea that was presented on day 1.

The Creative Process in Visual Form (credits to a professor in a class in architecture school)

I used to feel an overwhelming sense of frustration when this diagram came to fruition in my knitting process, yet still always considered myself a process knitter – the exact opposite of what could be considered a process knitter. But when I was enlightened with this knitting/design relationship recently, the swatching/frogging process became so much more enjoyable! It brought about a level of reassurance to trying to design on the fly, thinking “well, I can always frog back and start over if it’s not really what I want.” It even pushed me to swatch past what I thought I was satisfied with, to try new combinations, and find something else that I ended up liking even more. The fact that I’ve frogged more sweaters than kept due to the final product underscores the idea that beneath all of that swatching frustration, I guess the process of making it was far more valuable than keeping an ill-fitting garment.

The discomfort that comes with knitting beyond a pattern was initially rather unnerving. I was used to knowing what my end goal was and having an idea of what I was going to be getting. However, I pushed to keep going, reminding myself that it’s the design process, the option of frogging remains. Such is the case with one of my current WIPs, a Christmas hat for a friend. As I work on it on the bus, I’ll keep on checking the balance of the pattern…so far so good. Suffice to say, I’m satisfied with the ¾ outcome of this hat project but not ecstatic. And naturally, as any designer can attest, there’s more to perfect. And as with any other project with a hard deadline, sometimes one has to just give in to the satisfaction rather than the drive for perfection.

From here, I think I’ll try to sketch out a more detailed schematic prior to beginning my next project. Then I think an extensive swatching process with greater attention to size will be needed. While I had attempted these project foundation pieces prior, I’ve realized a greater value in the process and find them to be even more fascinating. I truly feel doors have opened as I’ve stopped restricting myself…from myself.

I’m still designing my crafting identity. And it’s all a part of this lifelong creative identity crafting.

Intentionality: Creative Process

Intentionality: Slowing Down

Lately, I’ve been inspired by a number of new blogs that I’ve come across by binge-listening to the Woolful podcast. If any fiber folk haven’t ever heard about it, I strongly recommend giving it a listen.

Between the #slowfashionoctober series by the Fringe Association blog, the Stash Less series featured on the Craft Sessions, and all of the recycling and works by gridjunky, I really want to become a more intentional maker, with the idea of experiencing intentionality in a number of different facets.

My first incorporation of intentionality is through the process of slowing down. I’m constantly casting on new projects because I want to knit everything. Even though I generally love all my items I knit since I get a lot of my patterns from Ravelry, I often fail to swatch properly due to the all to often swatching and getting a good enough gauge. This has led to frogged sweaters due to ill-fitting final products ending with no product and a lot of knitting time.

Slowing down also refers to my finished objects. I’ve become inspired and would really love to build my knitting portfolio and display all my knitted items up to better heights, to keep better track of them. I think sometimes I’m in such a rush to finish up one project and start a new one, I forget to enjoy the finished object as it is.

The photographic essays presented in the posts by gridjunky have really hammered home the ideas of slow process and careful thought. The images really evoke a sense of careful making while fully expressing the creative process, bringing a different life into each set of materials. This has in turn inspired me to become a much slower, careful maker, attempting to intentionally selecting designs and uses for each material as they speak their purposes.

I think the ideals behind slowing down apply not just to my crafting but should be applicable to life in general. In today’s media-filled world, we are constantly inundated with new ideas, fresh headlines, and as a result our lives are expected to keep pace with the influx of information. Sometimes, especially when crafting, maybe it’s best to adopt the opposing way of life.

Intentionality: Slowing Down

Birthday Baby Sweater – In Progress

Last year, I made some baby sweaters (Anders and the R&R Hoodie) for one of my good friend’s baby before he was born. So naturally, a year later he should get another since babies grow at an insane rate so of course both sweaters are now too small.

I chose Lancelot to be his 1 year old sweater, inspired by the Yarn Harlot’s version I loved. Using some acrylic grey yarn, I’ve breezed through the body and sleeves. I’m not super keen on this pattern however, as it seems that the pattern is a little difficult to follow. I’ve read numerous patterns and this one takes many tries for me to understand what to do. I have a good understanding of how the sweater is constructed so in large part I’m basing my work more off of the hidden knitterly instinct.

One somewhat major adjustment was the twisting of stitches in the “knit straight” rows. I also made the direction of the twisting stitches to follow the path it was traveling – not sure if that was intended by the pattern writer or not. I’m sure part of the difficulty is the language: it appears the original pattern was written in French.

I do like how it’s ended up so far, I just base my opinion of the pattern on how easily worked it is, especially when I’m around other people. In short, not all that easy. But I do like the product so it’s possible I’ll pick it up when it’s done. We’ll see after I’m done with this one!

Birthday Baby Sweater – In Progress

Socks Galore

So socks are my go-to, always have those on my needles, project (well except at this current moment but I think that issue will be remedied very soon). It’s kind of a safety blanket for me, going wherever I go regardless of whether or not I think I’ll be knitting.

No surprise, during this blogging hiatus, I’ve finished 3 pairs of socks, despite having had that huge Girasole project to finish:

From left to right: Vanilla Socks (#22), Seed Stitch Socks (#23), and my Goodwill Socks (#24). I guess my next pair of socks will be my 25th pair! I really do need to update my ravelry with my old socks that I had made for Christmases past.

Continue reading “Socks Galore”

Socks Galore

Still here!

So I’m pretty terrible when it comes to blogging on a consistent basis but I definitely still have been making! And lately, making lots more since my frisbee season just ended! But between the ultimate frisbee and the summer that is the absolutely lovely Seattle weather, I have little motivation to engage in screen time outside of my work hours. But let me try to pick this up…for yet another try.

My biggest FO this summer was the Girasole shawl (but made into a circular blanket size) that took me the majority of this summer to create. Now that it’s en route to its owner, I feel like it’ll be ok to share on the interwebs blogosphere.

I made this for my old roommate (I have SO much trouble calling her a friend because she’s so much more than just a friend to me) who I lived with while I studied abroad in Italy.  She got married this summer and unfortunately due to both financial and frisbee reasons, I was unable to attend. Instead I chose to make one of my best and most intensive knitting projects yet.

I’m normally a multi-project person. I usually am actively working on 3-4 projects at any one given time. With this project, however, any time spent knitting was spent on this project. Definitely a great exercise in self-discipline. It traveled with me from Seattle to Eugene by car, to Ohio and Denver for tournaments, and Los Angeles for a work/family visit and now over to Germany for final gifting; definitely one of the more well-traveled projects I’ve worked on as well. It was quite a haul as it grew as well.

I’d never done a knitted on border with these points, but I’d come to really enjoy the technique. The only headache was that it was indeed a very large knitting project by the time I got to that part. One flight I was working on it from San Francisco to Seattle after a tournament and I was so tired that I ended up just curling up in it and sleeping under it instead of working on the border.

Aside from the patience, the blocking was definitely one of the most challenging aspects, both considering floor space and trying to get it “just right.” I had to take out the pins each time I realized that the finished diameter needed to grow or shrink just a little bit more. Unfortunately it wasn’t just taking out the pins either; each point (I didn’t count how many but it was a lot) had a pin as you can see below. Finished diameter: approximately 75″

Still, despite the arduous blocking process, this is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever done.

Still here!

FO: Clap-oktus

I wonder, how is it that I always seem to be knitting, yet I can always find holes in my garment collection for “things that I haven’t knit for myself for”? Such is the case for scarves/shawls that are nice accessories for “wear to work” items in my closet. I immediately fell in love with this pattern, Clap-oktus, when browsing ravelry one day and knew just the yarn in my stash for it as well! (Thank you stash gods for this cake of hand-dyed Knit Picks bare in fingering weight!)

I dyed this guy last year, some time (I thought I had blogged about it, but naturally it’s one of those pictures that never got blogged about) trying to make a variegated, cloud/sky-esque yarn. Needless to say, it could have used a little more dye.

Nevertheless, I realized that this pattern would be perfect for the yarn, yarn perfect for the pattern. It was nice and simple, with a combination of basic knits and purls and the division/construction using measured weights of half the yarn made it perfect for using up ever last inch! It was amazing how it transformed from pre to post-blocking; unfortunately I didn’t get any pre-blocked pictures but here it is during blocking:

It went from being compact and closed to doubling in size as well as becoming super ethereal and airy afterwards. 

I’ve used it dozens of times since finishing and I think I’ll even want to dye a yarn especially for this pattern! I loved the finished size and the way it hangs and the way it wears, and is just oh so lovely!

FO: Clap-oktus

Macarons!

I’ve been eyeing various macaron recipes for the longest time – probably ever since I realized how much I love the merengue-y, chewy, delicious bites they are back in college.  Unfortunately, I’d never had a mixer powerful enough to whip up egg whites well enough to create them. There are so many small variations that are seem so delightful and it’s been so tempting to make so many different ones.

Luckily, when my parents came to visit last December, my mom had remembered that I mentioned my mixer (which was the one my mom and I used as she taught me how to bake growing up) and got me a new one! I’ve been excited to try my hand at macarons but needed to wait for a free weekend to do so.

Fast forward to last weekend and I finally jumped the gun! I used this recipe from Oh Sweet Day! without the sprinkles and enjoyed it greatly with much success!

Made a template using an old scrapbooking circle cutter stencil, piped the batter and let them sit, then stuck them in the oven.

I was a bit nervous during the actual baking time since I’ve heard the “feet” part can be a bit iffy, but curiosity got the best of me and I peeked in the oven and saw this!

Feet! Success! I’ll definitely use this cookie recipe for many an occasion!

(I also had to make some Super Bowl macarons for the Seahawks. Unfortunately they did not alter the course of the game.)

Macarons!