Inspiration Overload

I have too many ideas.  Bad ideas, mostly.  Or at least, unworkable ideas.  I was fooling around with icord and came up with the idea of knitting a rug. When I realized that US15s weren’t even close to big enough to get a workable fabric, did I forget about it?  Hell no!  I sat in the bathtub last night dreaming up hardware store solutions to a need for 15mm, looooong cord circular needles.  Because the first thing every pattern-buyer wants to see is instructions on how to build the needles you need to knit the project.

At the other end of the spectrum I did some beginning charting for a pair of custom-fit, all-over Fair Isle child’s leggings.  To my credit, I realized before I got too far that there probably isn’t a big market for something that uses $50 worth of sock yarn, takes 40+ hours to knit, and will be outgrown in a season.  Less to my credit, I did briefly consider reworking it as an adult pattern (hey, it won’t be outgrown so quickly!).

What happened to the robot, you ask?  Good question.  I think what happened is that I was swatching her with this crappy sport weight yarn that made me feel like I was taking forever to get nowhere.  Unfortunately, most of my yarn is buried at the the bottom of the Hoarders-style storage room I mentioned earlier.  So I’m going to bite the bullet and buy some half-decent, worsted-weight yarn and start over.  Sigh.

In the meantime, I have around a dozen other burning ideas, a knee sock for myself on the needles, and about 7 minutes a day for knitting.

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My Cheatin’ Heart

I have not been working on the Robot.  We recently finished two rooms in our basement, and I’ve been converting one into a playroom (I’m installing some light fixtures later today, so if I don’t write again you can assume I connected the black wire to to red wire and burned my house down) and working on emptying the final unfinished room of literal floor-to-ceiling, Hoarders-style junk.  I’ve been making various frozen and fermented foods (anyone need a kombucha culture?).  I’ve been putting my garden to bed (*cough* throwing old carpet on it in an übertrashy attempt to suppress some weeds come spring).  I have a suspicion the thing that separates the successful designer from — well, me — is the ability to focus.

I have been knitting, though — making my three-year-old (we call her Badger ’round these internet parts, BTW) some pants/leggings out of some variegated crappy acrylic* that looked a LOT nicer in the skein than as a fabric.  Maybe I’ll start an occasional feature on “Things That Happen When You’re Knitting That Suck” and include variegated yarn pooling on it.  But it’s helping me practice magic loop and I added a cool stretchy rib cast on to my toolbox, so that’s something.  I think I’m going to go window-shopping at my LYS this morning and see if touching the Cascades and Malabrigos restores my mojo.

*You will find my grousing about ‘crappy acrylic’ to be a common theme — I get most of my yarn from Michael’s or out of several giant bins of mystery yarn that I’ve collected mostly from yard sales and thrift shops.  I am far too cheap to buy actual nice yarn, even though I *know* it pays you back in the pleasure of the experience, wearability, etc., etc.  But when I pick up that beautiful, squishy, cheek-rubbable hank of handspun, hand-dyed 100% merino Malabrigo sock yarn and see the $20 price tag, all I can think is “That’s nearly $6 an ounce!  Meth costs less than that!**  And then I put it back.  It’s my dirty secret that I want to be a designer partly for the free yarn.

**I don’t actually know if meth costs less than that, but we’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad lately.

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Gauge Swatch Robot, We’re All Very Busy, and Another New Idea

I’ve been working, I swear.  I’m trying not to let the fact that all I have to show for it is this pathetic pile of nearly identical swatches get me down.

I’ve been busy with other creative outlets — I installed* the lovely foam tile floor you see here in our new playroom, and I whipped up this stuffed monster who has been named Monstery.  Truly whipped up, I might add — he’s sloppy and slapdash,but he also only took about two hours from conception to creation.  I’m always amazed when I sew how fast it is.  Maybe I’m in the wrong handcraft… nah.  You can’t take your sewing machine to the doctor’s waiting room.  Or work on it while you’re watching Breaking Bad.  The Soup, maybe, but not Breaking Bad.

I’m also putting up what garden produce we have that hasn’t been rendered inedible by stinkbugs, deer, moles, voles, or trolls, trying to get my filthy house clean, and parenting a three year old who nev.er.stops and 3 month old who’s been teething for a MONTH and has nearly, nearly, nearly cut his first two teeth. The poor little dickens.  So, you know, living life.  It’s going pretty good.  But that robot isn’t even close to finished.

I also also have another new idea — which is actually fairly simple, and in worsted weight.  Maybe even bulky. (Which, I know you don’t know me, but it’s like saying I might do a backflip off the Empire State Building into a glass of water.  I don’t think I’ve ever knit anything with bulky.)  But I’m committing to at least getting an initial prototype of the robot done before I start anything else.

*Installed, as in, I fit together a large puzzle where all the pieces were identical.

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New Project — First Day of School Ensemble

Work on the Robot continues apace — and by “apace” I mean I’ve been working for four days on a 6-inch square stockinette swatch on US2 needles in a yarn I think I hate.  I did have the idea of stuffing her with foam cubes wrapped in batting rather than polyfil to help her be more square, but maybe that’s a dumb idea.  I just happen to have some cushion foam laying around, so I’ll try it and see what happens.

My drafting skills continue apace, too. Note the third-grade multiplication on display — “don’t forget to carry the two, kids!”

But I’m now consumed by a new project — a dress/leggings/socks ensemble.  Because I was thinking to myself, “this robot has too many moving parts [not literal moving parts; just a lot of fiddly detail].  I am a lady without a lot of time for knitting.  I should think of something easy, in worsted, to design.  Like maybe a very basic dress.”

Which quickly morphed into a very basic dress, with a small largish simple cable lace motif, and an attached ruffled lace-weight petticoat, and matching sock-weight leggings and scrunch socks.  Because in spite of the name of my business*, I am a fiddly-detail, takes-forever pattern lover at heart.

*It’s my name and I love that it’s also a yarn tool, but I fear it sends precisely the wrong message about the type of designs I gravitate to.  I’m thinking of changing it to “Not-Swift Knits”. Or maybe “Swift (Hah) Knits”.

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Gauge Swatch Robot – Houston, We Have a Cube

Testing out various edgings.

Haven’t been posting, but I have been knitting — see?  I really need to work on my photo composition skills, but you get the idea.

The cube is ~5.5 inches to a side, which I think is too big for her body — a problem with knit cubes is that it’s hard to keep the points pointy and the sides straightish, and the bigger the cube is the less cube-y they want to be.  That’s also why the cube is made of six separate pieces instead of a tube with square ends (well, that and six pieces more closely approximates my inspiration robot).  I’m leaning now toward about a 4-to-4.5 inch body, which should make her about 8-9 inches tall altogether.

I think I have a couple of design conundrums sorted — how and where to attach the arms and legs, what the edging will be.  I have just started working on attaching the head and body together — I have what may be an ingenious idea, or might be ridiculous and unworkable.  We’ll see.

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Gauge Swatch Robot and Sick Child

It literally just occurred to me that I could make all my squares stockinette and work on construction and all that, and then fiddle with pattern stuff.  See?  Even total dopes can be designers.  Maybe.

I didn’t really get any knitting done today — that’s yesterday’s square.  But I did make a felt cupcake for my daughter who’s got a cold.  So that’s something.  I have other stuff I could talk about — the Ravelry design groups, my other ideas.  But I think I’m gonna go to bed in anticipation of a long night of sick girl.

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Gauge Swatch Robot, and My Notebook

Squares.

Two squares done — thinking of calling her a Dishcloth Robot instead.  Maybe I could work in a Rosie-from-the Jetsons reference?  Nah, seems labored.

These squares are very dense — worsted wool on US4 needles.  Soft toys are generally worked tightly so the stuffing doesn’t show or come out, but these are tight enough that “soft toy” starts to feel inaccurate.  Oh well — that’s what prototypes are for.

I need to figure out the best “neck” for her, and how to attach it.  Right now I’m leaning toward a ring of i-cord, but I feel like there’s probably something more elegant.

I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Zimmerman’s notebooks looked just like this.

Thought y’all might like to see a page from my “sketchbook”, such as it is.  Please don’t laugh — I’m trying to provide hope to all the people who think they can’t design because they can’t draw.  Although to be fair, my idea was to use pattern stitches to recreate the prototypical child’s drawing of a house.  I could draw a better house.  Probably.

It’s also got my current blogging tasks and some math and notes re: Gauge Swatch Robot.  It’s just a blank page journal — I chose this book mostly because I had it laying around (you will find “because I had it laying around” a recurring theme here; I’m incredibly cheap).  I would have preferred a spiral-bound book of graph paper, but the price of those is shocking.  I’m sure there is a better organizational system for this (and I say this as a workflow manager in a previous life), but I’m trying not to spend too much time setting up systems and color-coding my pencils, and just get knitting.  I may regret it later.

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