1.02.2013

The Ugly Truth Behind Beautiful Knits



Thank you everyone for all of your kind comments about my new soon-to-be-released knitting book! And yes, as many of you have guessed, the theme of the design collection is one of my favorite inspirations...


l e a v e s    

(Of course!)

Many times in the past, I have wondered how certain designers get from a ball of yarn to a finished garment. I don't know if my process is comparable to anyone else's but I thought I would share a brief look at how I create.. in case you were curious.

Behind this beautiful stack of finished knits...



are things that are not very beautiful at all. Some would call them downright messy.

First is the large, unwieldy pile of knitted swatches.



All of these little knitted scraps represent new yarns tested, and multiple variations of different stitch patterns. In some instances, I even knit one complete prototype of a small item such as a mitten, sock or hat, and then perfect the look of it the second time around.

Then there is the big mess of a design notebook.


Although it looks like a huge chaotic disaster, there really is a method to my madness here. 

I promise.

This notebook is packed full of little sketches, ideas, and pattern instructions that I wrote down as I knit. All ideas and notes for each pattern are divided into sections, and the yarn labels are even stapled with each design.

You see? It is organized even though it doesn't look like it.



This notebook has been my constant companion and has gone everywhere with me the past year. When I thumb through it, I see all of the projects.. and well... my life... from 2012.

I found some old podcast notes...


My first draft of "Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf"...


And even a few stories from my daughter scattered throughout...


I have to tell you.. I will always treasure this messy notebook for the memories that it contains.

Every messy, paper-clipped scribbled page as well as my messy pile of swatches helped contribute toward something that I am truly proud of.

This pristine bag of finished knits.


More pictures and information about these designs coming soon!


25 comments:

Amy Bailes said...

That notebook really is a treasure.

The other day while listening to your podcast, I got wondering.... What do you do with the finished projects for your designs? For the book you are publishing? Do you just make them in your size so you can wear them or what? Nosey I know!

Anita said...

Hi Alana, I have one of those special notebooks too. I just love all the little drawings and bits in them. Love your knitting.
Cheers, Anita.

sophy ting said...

i love it. also, i think leaves are always a great source for inspiration. can't wait to see your designs. :D

knitterb said...

Love, love, love the rust sweater! What pattern is that?

Charlotte Kaae Mathiesen said...

Cant wait for the book, hope fore a pre order botton soon.

Suzanne said...

I bet your guard that notebook with your life!

Jessica said...

Can't wait for the book! I love your patterns!

sillylittlelady said...

I love seeing other designers' creative process! We all have our own way, but there are similarities and differences for everyone :)

Very inspiring, can't wait to see the collection!

Sara said...

Hi Alana,
Thank you for this great post that helps us readers to see that there is a mess behind every beautiful shot. Haha! Your designs are so lovely and well constructed. You seem to whip through your knitting so quick. Could you do a post on your knitting method at some point? I have been knitting for 7 years but feel like I'm still quite slow only producing maybe 10 knits (mostly small gloves, cowls, etc) each year. How do you balance family, work, and knitting and manage to produce so many beautiful knits?

Happy New Year!

Sara

j*e*n said...

Can't wait for the new book! And creative genius is rarely an organized process, so no worries there. I'm sure the designs are gorgeous as always.

Michaeline said...

4545Hi Alana,
Thanks for sharing some of your design process. One look at the swatch stack and I don't think I could ever design anything. You guessed it. I am one of those people that hate to swatch. So, I am glad you don't mind it, because I love your designs! Looking forward to the new book, and best wishes to you. Congratulations.

Evelyn said...

I have always loved looking at other people's notebooks and seeing yours was such a thrill. Looking forward to seeing your collection published!

Poethead said...

I love the notebook. You will always treasure it.

Can you give us a clue, as to when the designs will be released? I can't wait!

Leaves are some of my favorite things on this planet.

How fun!

bluejayecrafts said...

I am obsessed with your leaves. I can't wait knit that rust sweater. Can you give a list of yarns used so we can start collecting our stash?

shabby girl said...

Loved the pile of Mess! All of those represent a completed project in the end! And the notebook!!! What a treasure! You go girl!

Melissa @ Miso Crafty Knits said...

I seriously cannot wait for the new book! And thank you SO much for sharing your notebook and how you create. I know some designers are very protective of their design process before anything has been published, but I know I can probably speak for others that it's very inspiring to see how others work! So thank you! <3

linda bowton said...

i echo all the sentiments above! it's so nice of you to share your 'creative process' with us. as a knitter, i have mini sticky notes all over my patterns (in a sheet protector so i don't lose them!) i, too, love anything 'leaves'!! it's such a natural design element...bringing us back to 'Mother earth'. the leaf sweater looks scrumptious!!
^)^linda

Gracieanne said...

I can't wait to see your new collection! Leaves are my favorite motif!

Anna said...

Thank ou for sharing your process, I enjoyed seeing your notebook of ideas and notes. I can't wait for your new book, I love all the colors.

PixelatedMushroom said...

Lovely post ^_^

Maryse said...

So exciting! I love everything you do!

DebKnits2 said...

I love notebooks so it's great to see yours.

ColeyB said...

Not only are you a terrific artist, but you have a special way of connecting with your followers. I am so inspired by your design and colors. Hope you give birth to your new book before Stitches West 2013! Must have patterns picked for Stitches shopping!

Rainy Daisy said...

It is profoundly reassuring that knitwear designers are human too. :)

Congratulations! It looks like some champagne is in order!

Cheers,
Daisy

Knit Scrap Labs said...

Wow, your notebook is AMAZING. I need to get myself one to start. Thanks for sharing the backstory on your finished work, it's really encouraging.