Today I´d like to tell you a bit about my co-designer, or the mastermind I should say, of the Rivulets sweater from my previous post. That is, she´ll do the talking herself. I was lucky enough to meet Brandie through one of the very first designs I ever made, she was one of my test knitters (have a peak at her Siris scarf of Doom!). Since then we´ve become friends, and as a translater and reviewer, she´s been helping me out with quite a few tech edits of knitting patterns. She´s also one of the kindest and smartest people you´ll ever come around. So, let´s hear from her about how she´s experienced our collaboration on the Rivulets sweater:
Brandie, you are not a professional designer, was this the first hand-knitted design you have ever worked on?
Absolutely! I have been knitting for a long time now, but always from patterns. I have occasionally had ideas for pieces I would like to knit for myself from scratch. But I am an impatient person, so I had never taken the time to experiment with my yarn and needles. Truthfully, I was afraid of the frustration that would come from failure. My tendency was to prefer the “safety” or “guaranteed results” you get from a good pattern.
Do you do craftsy or creative work in other areas?
My craft obsession before knitting was card-making. I have an enormous collection of gorgeous papers, stamps and inks that is sitting idle at the back of my closet. But sice I started knitting, I haven’t invested much time in other creative pursuits. It seems I am a monogamous crafter: one hobby at a time!
How long have you been knitting? And what do you like to knit most?
I have been knitting for around 10 years. My knitting personality is similar to my travelling philosophy: I like to go somewhere I’ve never been. This means I’m usually drawn to projects that feature something new to me, whether it is the garment type, construction, stitch pattern or yarn. I especially enjoy making sweaters because I think they are the ultimate reward for a knitter, but lately I have been really drawn to hats because there is so much variety and they are always quick projects!
What was your source of inspiration for the Rivulets sweater?
I once owned a sweater whose shape was similar to the silhouette of the Rivulets sweater. It was my favorite piece of clothing and I wore it with practically everything – skirts, capri pants, sundresses – in the spring, summer and autumn. It was my dream sweater, but it eventually had to be retired and I longed for a replacement.
How did you come up with such a stunning stitch pattern?
I had a very specific goal for what I wanted the Rivulets pattern to evoke: drops of water that stream down and merge with other droplets. I wanted it to flow and undulate. The only way to figure it out was to start experimenting. Because I don’t do much lace knitting, I wasn’t even familiar with how to make eyelets! I browsed through a lot of stitch dictionaries at the library, and noted the stitch combinations that yielded the kinds of effects I was aiming for. Then I started combining them. In all, I probably knit about 10 different swatches in 3 yarns before I settled on a stitch pattern that conveyed what I wanted. The biggest challenge here was knitting swatches in the round because the yarn-overs and decreases simply didn’t work on the reverse side of the work.
How did you like the process of designing the Rivulets sweater?
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis has a sense of Jana’s openness and generosity of spirit. Working with her was the best part of this adventure. We communicated by email and Skype and shared lots of pictures. At every stage, Jana was very receptive to all my ideas and was brilliant at interpreting my vague descriptions of what I was hoping we could create. Readers can only imagine the laughable result of my first misguided attempt at chart writing! I love that we each tried out different yarns and stitch patterns and even sleeve types to determine what the final product would look like. The pattern repeat is big and the stitch count is not very accommodating, so to me the most incredible thing was when Jana found the perfect way to avoid the math challenges of grading the pattern!
I know that as a translator and reviewer, you are used to working closely with texts. How did that knowledge help you with writing a knitting pattern? How is writing a knitting pattern different from what you usually do?
My work as a translator and editor demands attention to detail. This means I already have the patience it takes to write and rewrite the text until it seems right. Everything I write or review must be perfectly clear and explicit. I hope that this is reflected in our pattern, because I would not like to leave knitters to fill in the gaps. Writing a pattern from scratch is very different from my everyday work. When I translate or edit a text, the ideas come from someone else. In this case, all the content was originated by Jana and me, so there is no one to blame for any faulty logic or missing information!
What does knitting mean to you?
Knitting is a way to explore the world. With all the different fibers, weights and dyeing techniques, I think I could spend a lifetime playing with yarn. I travel often and yarn is a great souvenir for me. I try to go into yarn shops in every city I visit. Although I’m trying to tame my stash, I always allow myself to buy something if it’s locally made or somehow specific to the place. My business trips cause me to spend lots of time in airports, airplanes, subways, buses and so on. There is a lot of “dead time” and knitting is my refuge in these moments. As soon as I sit down, I pull out my knitting. It’s a great conversation starter: passersby ask what I’m making or how I learned to knit or if it’s hard. Sometimes they tell me about their own knitting or their family members who knit.
Finally, I get a lot of pleasure from the finished result. Some people are about the process, but I’m all about the product. I enjoy wearing my hand-knitted garments. And I am even more delighted when I give away a hand-knitted project. Knitted items are the most thoughtful of gifts: the pattern and yarn are chosen specifically for the occasion and every stitch is worked with a thought for the recipient. It is very gratifying when a friend or loved one recognizes the time and care that have gone into a hand-made gift.