Monday, February 18, 2013


My design process that is.  I've been thinking a lot about how I want to continue expanding Irish Girlie Knits Designs in the next year.  One of those ways is to continue learning.  As many of you know, my first for-sale pattern was Cotty, a sock design that was born at sock camp. I think by that point I had knit 50 pairs of socks, none of them plain vanilla socks, either.  Once the design bug hit me, the sock designs just kept coming.  The sock provides a very comfortable canvas for me to design on.  For example, I knew as I was designing the Sleepy Hollow hat that this pattern would work well for a sock.


Breakfast Blend Toes

One sock finished in the lovely new Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend sock yarn from Knitspot. I just need to get this baby written up, get it to test knitters, and finish knitting the second sock.  I cast on that second sock immediately!


But just as comfortable as I am designing socks, it has been a steep learning curve for some other designs.  Infinity scarves, baby things, hats, those aren't so hard.  Before the sock obsession I knit a lot of those.  But shawls.  My first shawl that I ever knit was my Bellingrath Shawlette.  Silly me, lace with patterning on both sides!  But I did love that design.  And I think I enjoy designing shawls lately because there is the challenge of learning and trying something new. So one of my goals this year has been to knit other shawl patterns to.  Especially since last year I didn't really knit any project other than something I was designing or had designed.  Well, I did knit a pair of Toast (um....a tube!) and a wee pumpkin.  But that's it.  I blame those graduate school classes.

First up, Hazeline from the Fall in Full Color Club, by Anne Hanson (duh! if I want to learn more from other designers, why not go to the best, right?!).  I cast on this weekend in a vintage Plucky Knitter MCN sock yarn.


Ah!  Such a freeing feeling to knit someone else's pattern! To not have to worry about making notes all the time, or decisions about next steps.  So nice to just follow along and knit.  I'm not putting any deadlines on these projects and I'm using stash yarn that I love but probably won't design with.  And I'm hoping at the end of the year, I just may have a gift pile going for the holidays.

Which leads me to another process, and that is my process as a knitter.  I've gone from knit like crazy for everyone at the holidays to the last two holidays knitting very few things if any for anyone.  The only Christmas gift I knit last year was a pair of Toast for Lil' Snowboarder's teacher.  I rarely knit teacher gifts, but she is AMAZING!  She deserved cashmere.  And I really truly enjoyed knitting those for her and gifting them to her.  It made me remember why I loved knitting things for people who truly appreciate them.  Designing hasn't made it easy for me to frantically knit those gifts late into the night, but I am going to make a more conscious effort to knit for those I love this year.  I'm hoping that having someone else's pattern on the needles may help with that.  We'll see.

My knitting time last year was so limited that I was always working on something design related.  I didn't feel like I could afford the time to work on something else.  But I realized while knitting those Toasts at Christmas that I have some extra knitting time if it isn't something complicated.  I whipped those babies up in no time between car rides, waiting in line, and at the movies.  No, I can't knit on a new design on a car ride or at the movies unless I'm at a certain point, but I can knit on an easy sock.  The plain vanilla socks I've been avoiding (so boring to me!) may serve a good purpose now.  I'm giving it a try.  A very very very mindless knit will be on the needles at all times.  Again, something with no deadline, no rush to finish. First up is a sock for dad.  I grabbed the first STR heavyweight skein that was already wound.


I'm surprised how far along I am given how little I've knit on these.  Just this week I've knit on this sock, the shawl above, and knit one of my sleepy hollow socks. 

But here's the downside I discovered.  I'm really enjoying just knitting.  The easy sock. The shawl pattern that isn't mine.  It has been so refreshing. So much so that when Anne released the first pattern in her Bare Naked Knits Club (I joined the pattern only version which is still open) this weekend, I had to resist casting on the hat.  Seriously.  I quickly thought up three different yarns in my stash that I could use.  I contemplated if maybe I should see if there was still a spot open in the yarn version of the club because then I could definitely work on my goal of learning new things if the yarn just showed up too.And then I remembered my to-design list and those pretty new yarns from TNNA and resisted. For now. 

I think this is why I love our craft so much. There is still so much to learn from knitting and that continues to bring me so much joy.  It is why I know eventually I will start spinning too.

Does any of this resonate with you guys?  What is your process as a knitter or as a designer?  I'd love to hear. 

Oh, and before I go, can I ask you guys a favor?  It is my baby sister's birthday tomorrow and she isn't feeling well.  Can you help me wish her a very happy birthday in the comments?


Lots of organizing and cleaning happened this weekend and I finally put this picture in a frame.  It is one of my favorites from that day!   Happy birthday little sis!!!  I love you!!

Happy Knitting!
xoxo Irishgirlieknits


Sarah said...

Happy Birthday to your sister, I hope she feels better for her Birthday!
Love your post about your process, I LOVE knitting other people's patterns as well and am making a more concerted effort to do that this year!

Renee Anne said...

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your sister :) It's no fun being sick on your birthday!

Second, it's your fault that the design bug hit me at all. I'm not very good and I have a zillion things swirling around in my head and none of it has gone to testers (I feel like I should make a second prototype of everything first). I don't know what, exactly, it was about you that made me want to start designing but something about you and your designs has inspired me...

Third, I hate packing. On the upside, packing is almost finished and it looks like we're going to close on time (Friday)...which means moving on Saturday. I think I'm going to have to hit a new LYS for some yarn therapy. Luckily Nine Rubies is only 2 miles away from the new house :)

Manda said...

I think it's nice that you're remembering that knitting can be fun, by knitting other designer's patterns. :) I think when something becomes work, as much fun as it is, it's still... work. :) Enjoy your little breaks of mindless knitting, or "other people's patterns" knitting. :D

and happy birthday to your sister!!! :)

dianne said...

I can completely relate! I know that someday I will try a design of my own, but there are so many wonderful designs that I want to do that I never make time for something of my own. Someday inspiration will hit and it will be right.

Happy Birthday Katie! I hope you're feeling better :-)

Uny said...

Happy Birthday and forget the chicken soup, birthday cake works wonders!

Natalie said...

Happy Birthday Little Sister!! Hope you feel better.

Sometimes I just have to have mindless knitting because the hands are willing but the mind is not!

Cricket said...

Happy Birthday!! Hope today brings you all you wish for.

Jo in Nashville said...

Designing is part of your JOB. The socks & such are fun! There's no pressure on fun. Thank goodness!

Happy Birthday to Irish Girl's Sister! Feel better!

Debbie said...

Happy Birthday, Sister! Yesterday was my birthday so I can definitely relate. Hope you are feeling better!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Baby Sister! I hope you feel better for your birthday!

Second, your designs are lovely, and I love them because I haven't found many of them too difficult. While some other designers crank out really beautiful patterns as well - - they often force me to be chained to the pattern rather than getting to enjoy the knitting process.
I have recently discovered that I am a process knitter. As much as I complain about not having enough time to knit for me - and that I knit for everyone else, I have found it's simply because I like knitting for others.
I have also come to realize that most of my knitting lately has been stockinette or garter stitch -with a few surprises thrown in, and that's ok, because life is crazy right now, and with simple patterns I can still knit! I can knit on my commute, I can knit on a conference call, I can knit while my kids are talking to me,or while at their sports practice.
Your designs are those that I count in my "simple, yet beautiful pile" and that means that I reach for them when I am looking for knitting! Keep doing what you're doing - because I love it!!

Nartian Knits said...

Happy Birthday Irish Sis! Hope you recovery quickly.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your sister.
I must tell you I love your patterns. And also your blog! I am so glad you are blogging more!! It's a nice thing to check it and read it after a day of work!

I knit a lot of holiday gifts. I have started for holiday 2013! I like the hand made touch as a gift.


cockeyed said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing all of this! Keep it up!!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to your sister. I hope she is feeling better soon.

knittinggolfer said...

Great post!
Happy birthday Katie!

Alicia Landi said...

Happy Birthday to your sister!

And a lot of what you said about your process resonates with me. I'm still fairly new at designing but I've definitely been hit with the urge to just knit things for fun, other people's patterns or even just things I make up on the fly but don't write down. It can be difficult to balance it all!

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

A belated happy birthday to your sister! I've been saving your post because I wanted to take time to comment on it.

Your designs are beautiful, and it really is WORK to get from idea to written pattern. You are very successful at it. And yes, it's relaxing to knit someone else's design. But I can see that you're learning something new from that knitting, even while you're relaxing. Isn't it cool to learn a new shawl shaping technique while knitting someone else's pattern? I love all the different shapes, and am still learning more. Some of these shapings make their way into my designs, too.

The other thing I like about designing is taking some feature and running out all sorts of permutations of the same. I did that with all my entrelac pieces; I just loved entrelac so much I wanted to use it in *all the things." So much fun.

Keep up the good work!