women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the...

The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour.

- Sir James Jeans (1877-1946, British scientist, astronomer royal)

Someone once told me, the quality of a piece of writing may be determined by gauging the quality of what the writer edited out & left by the wayside. In other words, if you aren't tossing out good stuff, you probably haven't:

  1. gone far enough in your exploration of the subject, or
  2. gotten down to the bare bones of the matter.
I find this advice pertinent to the design process as well. It is all too easy to go into the design process with a set idea of how a piece is going to be constructed and what it will look like upon finishing. There is nothing wrong with following your muse, but I think we must remain open as long as possible to the option of a detour.

Our first drafts should be free and wide ranging - they should be messy, overbloated things, full of many wanderings, insights, & creative possibilities. Only then can we stand back and see what works.

Sometimes a pattern takes a totally new direction, in this process, one which you might have missed had you hewn to the straight & narrow path.

Creativity does not fly as the crows, from point A to point B. It meanders like a stream, picking up small stones of ideas along the way.

Then we sift, as the miners did, looking for the nugget of gold within the stream.

My goodness, I'm verbose this afternoon!

All of this is by way of saying, Helm's Deep took a BIG detour.

My original design concept was a grey wooly shoulder wrap, made to look like stone. But I just couldn't make it work to my satisfaction. I tried different yarns, different patterns, different construction techniques...

But none of them were working.

So I pitched the whole thing out & started over with 3 colors of yarn: Madelinetosh sock in:
  • Stovepipe (blue grey) for the stone walls of the keep
  • Golden Hickory (amber rust) for the armor of the elves, who make their stand with men
  • Floursack (off white) for Shadowfax & the white wizard Gandalf who turn the tide of battle with their arrival
I decided on a geometric slip stitch pattern that looked a bit like stone blocks in a wall. Then I added a cogwheel lace border - nothing too dainty. I decreased within the pattern to curve the scarf into a crescent shape.

Once I was done with that, I still wasn't happy. It just wasn't all there, you know?

So I added short rows in the Hickory to make a wide crescent shawl. I also added a little white & grey edging at the neck for symmetry's sake.

What I wound up with was my first "steampunk" pattern!

Not quite where I thought I was going, but a beautiful detour, nonetheless!

I finished the shawl while still at the lake house & needed a small project to work on while our grandson was visiting - nothing too fussy (beads are not a good mix with a 2 year old).

So I cast on the Balrog cowl.

Next thing you know, I had polished off another sample, before even getting Helm's Deep out into testing.

The cowl has a nifty flared ribbed bottom that sits nicely on the shoulders, then a long stretch of mosaic knit with a center cable running up the front.

I made it long enough to pull up over your head, and added a lovely picot edging to frame the face.

I love the way this mosaic design looks like the smiling (snarling?) fiery face of the demon.

I need test knitters for both these patterns.

Vacation plans & other projects seem to have diverted most of my usual suspects. If you are interested, please drop me an email at susanpandorf@gmail.com & I will send you all the details, such as yardage, skill sets needed, & time frame.

Will get modeled shots soon - promise.

Until then...back to the Mere...


Anonymous said...

They're both gorgeous, though I am particularly fond of the cowl. The motif really does look like balrog faces! You've made great colour choices.

I've emailed you about the test knitting.

Donna Lee said...

I love the cowl. You converted me with Strider. I made it and wore it over and over all last winter. I'm looking forward to this one!

I'd volunteer to be a test knitter but I fear I am too slow to be much help to you! (however, if you become desperate, let me know)

Hanne said...

What a pity that Helms deep didn't find it's way, the finished shawl looks very different from the preview which in my opinion seemed to be more my kind of shawl.

Susan Pandorf said...

sorry bout that Hanne!

Anonymous said...

Correct that to I probably sent an email about the test knit. My friend has just informed me that she didn't get any of the emails I sent her in the past week. I don't know yet if it's my email server or hers.

Susan, can i ask if you did in fact get an email from a Christine?

Elizabeth McClung said...

THey are nice, but I am totally in lust of your Byzantine Stole. Ahhh, lust, lust, lust after the pretty colours.

O crackers, who was it, yes, Dorothy Parker's rule was 7 in 10, that out of 10 words seven would be edited out or altered dramatically. I can't remember who taught me but the 'first chapter' rule is good too (eliminate all prefaces and the first chapter - if your readers are smart, they don't need them, as they probably are just templates of what the writer wants to achieve).

Lust the Stole.

redskiedmorning said...

do you have enough test knitters for Balrog? I'd love to try the mosaic knitting - a new challenge!

I am meandmybike on ravelry, and secretly I am a proficient lace knitter and a lover of technical challenges :)