Saturday, 30 March 2013

One Step, Two step.

This is the next step in my process. It's actually two steps at a time but each one informs the other. 

I start to plot out potential stitches. By this point I've narrowed down the stitches that will be in the design but there is always an element of surprise to it. Sometimes because they are untested combinations but sometimes because I use a yarn I've not tried before.
A potential stitch combination

For this particular project I'm using a nice simple grey to refer back to the old stones of the graveyard and it's hand painted so there are some lovely gradients in the colour - like ageing - again perfect for the idea of decay.

Now this yarn has got a high twist within the ply which means that it will show off twisted stitches beautifully. This is what a mean when I say this part is really a two step process. If I'm going to use this yarn, it would be a pity not to incorporate some twisted stitches to really make the garment sing. So I need to add some of those kinds of structures.

Twisted stitches are added to the chart.

I have an idea of the shape I want and the width of it so this is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. I really enjoy this part. It's the really creative bit where I can start to see how it will finally look.

So now it's time to knit.


Monday, 25 March 2013

Doodle is the New Design

It's funny how things work out. I was already to post the next step of my process, when I discovered a new technique which helps demonstrate my thought process.

Essentially it's to doodle.

I've worked on some doodles based on my graveyard photos.

I start by splitting the page into sections and then fill each section with a doodle. 

There are no rules for this exercise, you just need to move the pen across the page.

It's really interesting to see how different shapes and textures can rub up against each other.

This is the start of stitch pattern formulation. As I doodle, I never think "I want to put X stitch in here" however, when it's completed and I can step back from it, I can see where lace holes can be placed. maybe this could be a twisted stitch,

That's not to say the finished garment will be this patchwork of pattern, but I can start to see what may sit next to each other and what may merge into something else. Then it's the stitch placement.


Monday, 18 March 2013

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

So the next stage of my process is to work with images.

They can either be from my own imagination if the idea is a more abstract one or from photos and images I collect.

For example a while ago I was reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  This got me thinking of the shapes found within. Rectangular like a shawl. Oh a shawl based on a graveyard? That's an interesting idea. So I took my camera off to our local church and took some photos.

There are some head stones to give me some ideas of shapes and edging.

An old, rusty  boot scraper.

I like to play with angles to spark some different textures
and to explore negative space.

Iron railings around some of the graves give me more ideas for edging and boundaries.

Once I'm satisfied I've got some starting points, I can go home and start to select the shapes that interest me the most. This is by no means the end of this part of the process. Quite often, I'll go back and take more pictures becoming increasingly specific if I want to explore something further. Other times I'll manipulate the image in Photoshop or I may cut it up completely and re-arrange it in a new order, pushing textures and shapes against each other.

Then I start to put the pattern together.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

In The Beginning Was The Word.

I thought I'd talk a bit about what inspires me and how that informs my practice.

For me it's all about the words and ideas of a thing. I love to read and find the way it allows the imagination to run free incredibly liberating. In my imagination nothing is wrong. The rules of physics happen somewhere else. This gives me a place to explore all sorts of things that may not be realistic but are none the less exciting and inspiring. That's not to say that my work looks like fantastical beasts that breathe strings of notes which are magically synthesised by beetles in the way RNA codes for protein (now there's a thought), but it may start there.

Sometimes the words are much more simple. For example - the Beyond the Fat Lady series is based on a password and the events that surround it in the book. A shawl I'm working on is based on an exclamation "The Temple and The Arch" from one of my favourite books. (Geek points to anyone who recognises it.).   

I've found the best thing to do with these words and ideas is to sit with them a while. Not necessarily to ponder them night and day but to hold them gently in my mind whilst I get on with other things. Kneading bread is incredibly useful as a meditative act that allows my mind to drift but it can be all manner of "distracting activities" that gives me space to think without actually thinking. The solution that presents itself is usually how best to proceed. What kind of project it will be. How it may start to take shape. What techniques I may want to use.

Then the next step begins.


Friday, 8 March 2013

Sample Shadows

With the commission completed, I've been back to working on samples.

The Spring/Summer collection has really got a lace feel to it which I'm really enjoying. It's stretching my lace knitting in new directions which is what it's all about.

Trying to fit the lace with the more solid edges makes for some interesting creations but there's something hugely satisfying when it clicks into place and the flow of stitches is seamless.

These images put me in mind of x-rays. That could be an interesting avenue to explore. I'll keep you posted with any developments.


Monday, 4 March 2013


I've been a very busy girl, working on a commission. As you know this is sensitive work since I don't actually own the piece. It makes talking about it quite challenging. How can I show you something that's taking up most of my waking moments without compromising the design?

The first image shows the play of light this material creates. It works best in daylight rather than artificial light. The reflections curve and play as they bounce off surfaces which gives the fabric a stunning sense of movement.

This is a close up of the fabric. Yes really.

I love working with something that's different. It makes me rethink my ideas of garment construction and just how far you can push a fabric.

I'm hoping the designer will allow me to post some images of the finished garment.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sleeping Beauty

On Tuesday I was taken to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty,

It was utterly magical. I love Mr Bourne's work immensely and knew that I was in for a good night by crikey, it went beyond my very high expectations.

For me, the costumes are a huge part of the experience. It's the way they move and change that I find captivating. The way the material responds to the dancer and indeed the dancer responds to the costume. If you think that sounds too arty, just think about getting ready for a date. You select something that makes you feel good. There's an element of ritual when you put it on. It has the power to change how you carry yourself and how you express yourself. Clothing is costume.

In the case of Sleeping Beauty, the costumes  added another layer to the storytelling. They were simple and elegant. They were colourful, playful and exotic. They were binding and restrictive. They moved with lightness.

Needless to say that we left the theatre and my little head was buzzing with ideas for lines, fabric combinations and construction ideas. Boy simply smiled as I sketched frantically, trying to get things out of my head and onto paper. When I apologised for being so absorbed in what I was doing, he replied. "I love watching you work when you're feeling so inspired".

After spending 2 hours on a cold, damp, Tuesday evening, locked in a world of whirling colour and shapes, how could I not be?