Shape of Lace : part one
Do you love lace? Do you have a secret belief that you could be a brilliant designer (…but you just haven’t tried it yet).
This is the first of several posts to guide you as you develop a design from inception through to completion. Join me, and lets go on a design adventure together!
I recently held a yarn+collaborative design contest. On June 1st, I drew a name from the digital hat, and over the past 2 weeks, I have been chatting with and getting to know Diane from Florida (wannaknitsox on Ravelry), who is my newest design collaborator!
Diane is a proud mother, teacher (she home-schooled her three children), hard-working volunteer, long-time knitter, lace expert (check out her fabulous projects on ravelry), and caretaker of adorable Purl the cat. She has described herself as a type-A personality (I guess I’ll learn what that means…!). Whatever else Diane is, she is most definitely a fearless knitter; her VERY first project was this Lopi colourwork sweater for her husband… and her second project was one for herself!
Upon explaining this unlikely choice of first project, she said ‘I didn’t know I couldn’t do it… so I did’. Well I don’t know how I could have gotten luckier in the draw!
So down to the meat of things… How are we working together to design a lace shawl? Would you like to join in and work along with us, and design your own? Design is really not that difficult, and can be very rewarding!
How can you participate? Well, first of all, I recommend you sign up for our email updates, so you don’t miss out on new tutorials as they are released! Then you can join us on the Tin Can Knits Ravelry group, where you can join in on the discussion! Start a thread to about your design, to share your ideas, difficulties, and ask for the opinions and suggestions of other knitters! I will be available to answer questions and make suggestions there too.
HOW TO BEGIN A LACE SHAWL DESIGN : COLOUR, SHAPE, CONCEPT
At the beginning, when I’m thinking about a new design, I’m usually thinking about SHAPE, COLOUR, and CONCEPT. There are no rules in design (I love my job!), you can just go with what appeals to you.
I would like to say before we begin that design is not a linear process. This is not a step-by-step how-to, but more of a series of useful tutorials / inspirations to guide you on your own design adventure. Also (I’m feeling a bit sheepish here) you know how I said at the beginning that design is not really that difficult…? Well actually that was a little white lie! Designing a lace piece requires a willingness to make mistakes and try out bunch of different things until you discover what works. This requires a large degree of patience, concentration and commitment. But if you already knit lace then you know about hard work, concentration and commitment – so you are well prepared. Let’s get started!
C O L O U R – we knit (and design) to bring beautiful and unique things into the world. So much of the beauty I see in the world is in vivid colour.
When I am designing, sometimes start with colour, picking a yarn that I think is amazingly beautiful, and developing a design to show it off. What colours do you love?
The inspiration for the Photosynthesis Shawl was a combination of COLOUR (a fabulous green) and CONCEPT (I wanted to design a leaf-lace shawl).
Another example: my mother looks so beautiful in blue, so when I designed a lace pattern for her 60th birthday present (this wave lace scarf) I worked with a beautiful blue skein of Cashsilk Lace by SweetGeorgia Yarns, and the wave lace stitch pattern I developed was a result of the colour decision. Green = leaves and blue = water… yeah, I know that’s not really very creative, but you have to start somewhere!
S H A P E – sometimes I begin with a distinctive idea about the geometry I’d like to use, and the shape of the end result. Or I think… hey… I’ve never designed a circular shawl, let’s see what happens if I do!
There are many ways to form a square or rectangular shawl: working end to end, lengthwise, working in the round to form a square or rectangle, or working from a central point out to to two ends.
Shawls or lace blankets can be knit in a few different ways to form circles or almost-circle shapes. Typically they are knit from the centre out in rounds, with a number of increase points to form a spiralling octagon / pentagon, or with increase rounds at increasing distance from the centre, as in the pi shawl.
Using the same logic, and structure, you can form a semi-circular shawl, working 180° or more.
Some great examples of semi-circular shawls:
The triangular shape is simple and classic – it is one half of a square, and is formed knitting back and forth, increasing at 4 points. You can develop / tweak a triangle shape to make a Batwing shape, which increases more often at the start and end of round, causing the fabric to flare wider and the arms to curve upward.
A crescent shape can be formed in a few different ways; either with short-rows and subtle decreases which curve the fabric into a banana shape, or by knitting end-to end and creating a curve by the way stitches are increased and decreased along the edges of the piece.
You can also form a shawl or blanket using modular construction, by making a bunch of smaller pieces then sewing them together. You can work with squares like I did in the Dogwood blanket or hexagons like Norah Gaughn’s Medallion Shawl.
C O N C E P T – sometimes I don’t just start with COLOUR or SHAPE or a favourite lace stitch pattern, sometimes I start with a bigger, more general, over-arching IDEA. Mmmmm ideas… yum! as it happens have a shoebox full of them. Wanna peek inside?
The design of my newest lace piece Estuary (FREE pattern just published in Knitty!) was a case of a strong concept which I developed into a finished piece.
I grew up next to the ocean. I love the way that when you look out over the water, at the horizon the waves are tiny and indistinct and form horizontal lines. Nearer you they become more shapely until the waves at your feet or under the deck of your boat are big, curving, organic lumpy things. In response to this idea I developed the two lace patterns; one small scale, one large scale. And I knit the shawl lengthwise because it would not have looked right otherwise: the structure of the stitch patterns themselves dictated the form that the shawl would take.
SO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO CREATE? As Diane and I work together, inspire and learn from each other, I will continue to write about the shawl design process, swatching, charting, and shaping lace, choosing borders, and adjusting stitch patterns.
This is a very in-depth design process so I can only work directly with one person, but I would love to have others follow along, ask questions, and work alongside us to develop designs. A great place for this conversation to happen is on the Tin Can Knits Ravelry group – check it out and join us for design debates. And as always, we love to hear from you, so leave a comment, or pop us an email!