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!
HOW TO BEGIN : 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. 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.
EXAMPLES: my Chrysanthemum and Botany designs can be knit as circular shawls or blankets, or as semi-circular pieces.
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 and the Vivid 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 lace piece Estuary 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?
From your initial concepts, get started by learning how to create lace charts from text instructions, and then how to create shaped lace charts, how to transition from one lace pattern to another, and how to design edging patterns that work with your chart repeat!
Some Lace Patterns you might like: