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.

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Intentionality: Creative Process

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

Christmas Givings

Now that Christmas has come and gone, gifts finished and (mostly) given out, I can share the loot. Well 90% of my knitting was socks, and 3 of those are mens socks (which take FOREVER).

Here are most of the goods (at least the ones not finished on time)

Socks have been my go-to for Christmas gifts for the past 2 years now, since no matter the climate everyone needs a pair of comfy socks here and there. They’re also the best bus project, being quite portable and have become somewhat of a mindless knit for me. I love how they keep my hands busy while I’m hanging out with friends, on my commute with a podcast, or watching a completely engaging movie.*

The hat is the only item that I directly used a pattern – the rest were improvised sock patterns with stitch patterns that I got from various sock books or my stitch dictionary. I’ll go into some socks more later…

The hat I made was a Peppermint Hat from the Interweave Gifts edition from 2012. And it was an absolute joy to knit. I finished it within days, didn’t even swatch (no time to at that point!) and loved the yarn a lot. So much so, I decided to make some matching mitts with the same yarn, improvising the color chart to match.

I did get the other two pairs of socks that aren’t up there on the recipients’ feet. Yay for use pictures! That always warms my heart…even more adorable was that my brother (who’s feet are in the blue socks) was worried about wearing them with shoes. I then proceeded to tell him that the more worn out hand knits are, the more complimented I feel, as knits are to be used as much as possible and are a sign of love.

Gift knitting is something of a complicated and often seemingly judgmental conundrum. I always feel like I want to knit all of the things for everyone, but then the question is what or whether they’ll actually use the gifted object. Then there are the people who voluntell knitters to give them something and quite frankly (usually) they automatically go to the not going to knit for you list. Anyway, I’m rambling. In short, I’m tired of gift knitting, so now I’ve been on a finish-itis spree! That’ll be shared next time…

*There are so many different t ypes of movie/tv-knitting relationships, brainless knitting is for the very intense movies that I can’t look away from.

Christmas Givings

On the journey home

I’ll write about Germany later but for now, as I’m sipping my final pint (of who knows how many, admittedly, this trip) I decided to set forth mother challenge: the great sock rush. With Christmas fast approaching, I’m hoping to finish these two socks.

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I finished two hats and had worked on these two socks on the first leg of my journey (I’m writing this in a pub in London Heathrow). Now to see if I can finish them on my 9hr flight back to Seattle. The challenge is on!

On the journey home

Operation Hat Scramble Success!

With about 2 hours to spare, yours truly successfully completed the challenge she had set forth for herself just 13 hours before.

Since I left London – Heathrow, the second of two hats looked like this:

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Sporadic dozing slowed my progress but by the end of the flight, I was beginning my decreases and knew that I would most likely succeed!

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After a walk through the city that looked like this:

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I got on a bus to Leipzig (that is currently supplying the wifi I’m using to blog right now!) with the hat looking like this:

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Half an hour later, success! Operation hat scramble completed and ready for gifting! I’m pretty excited that it took me a mere 13 hours (really, 7 since I slept quite a bit) to complete!

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Operation Hat Scramble Success!

Operation Hat Scramble Update

One hat down, 2/3 of a hat to go!

Here is the progress:

1 hour into the flight, 8 hours til London.

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2.5 hours into the flight, decreases begin and then I put it down for my lovely 5hr sleep.

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First hat got finished with 1.5 hours left in the flight! A total working time of about 4.5-5 hours.

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Cast on for the second while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2. I had to cast on twice for this one as well. No ball band (it’s old handspun) or knowledge of gauge = guessing.

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It continues!

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Lunch at Wagamama (not very good ramen) while knitting!

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Apologies for the brevity but I’m blogging on the free wifi via my phone

Operation Hat Scramble Update