Process Stories

I am having one of those weeks where, despite devoting a fairly consistent and dedicated level of effort to my knitting, the actual apparent progress is minimal. I am in one of those very necessary phases of design work where I am either doing lots of pre-work (conceptualizing in my head, making notes, flagging stitch patterns in my dictionaries, putting out yarn for the next projects “on deck”, etc), or a lot of process work involving ripping-out and re-knitting and fine tuning. And I’m not exactly a patient person, so this is the most challenging part for me, particularly when it leaves me wringing my hands thinking “but what will I tell the BLOG about? WOE.”


This glove, for example, may look a lot like a cuff instead of an actual glove. But in my head, it is a glove. The design concept is actually pretty simple, and I’m very tickled with it, and I love the yarn (Indigodragonfly MCN Sport, which is actually more like a DK). In material reality, it has been knitted up to the hand once already and then ripped out again while I fine-tune stitch counts and things. Which is good, it’s what needs to happen, but it does wear at one’s patience a bit, particularly when the other main project on my needles has gone through the same thing about three times.

This shawl has done this to me too. It’s going to be great, I am sure of it now – there was a while where I was a bit nervous/terrified that I was going to let Michelle down and I would have to tell her that I was so sorry she had given me some of this beautiful yarn to knit a beautiful shawl with because I am actually secretly just a hack who can’t manage to come up with a triangular shawl pattern despite the fact that zillions (or at the very least dozens) of human beings have done this before me. But no, it’s going to be good now. Plus, she’s got a brand new little kidlet that just arrived a couple of weeks ago who’s now been given an extra dose of hospital care due to illness, so if I can soak up some karmic frustration on her behalf, then well, I am all on that for Michelle.


It’s been a matter of tweaking stitch charts to do what I want them to do (with triangular shawls there is, I have learned through this process, a rise-over-run factor of needing the increase rate to match up with the # of repeating stitches in the chart, but that’s the sort of thing that you don’t necessarily need to care about, because the designer gets to care about it on your behalf, so moving on…), and making sure it looks defined enough and pleasing enough to match up with whatever hairbrained idea I had when I started the project in the first place. Also, let me tell you about how much I adore lifelines. Those lifelines are my rocks. They are the line of cavalry ready to charge down the hill like an unstoppable force of security. I have used them to their full value and I love them and may consider writing poems about them.

Because I think, in the end, the most challenging part of design isn’t the technical aspects (but those really help a lot), or the conceptual work (but I really like having that too); It’s that there is always this x-factor of not being entirely sure what it is that is going to trip you up. There are moments of frustration and even sheer terror that you might, in fact, have gotten it completely wrong and that the design is not going to work or that it might even be terribly uninteresting in the end. But at some point, you just have to suck it up, feel the fear and frustration, and finish it anyway.

Now if I could just manage to successfully apply this wisdom to my real life, I’d be good to go.

Happy knitting, my blog friends! Knit fearlessly this weekend.


  1. That is why you are the designer and the rest of us are mere knitters. I have such a hard time being patient enough (and trusting enough in my so called designs) to not just give up on the whole thing when I hit my first road bump. I’m sure all that you’re working out will turn out fabulously!

  2. I ♥ lifelines too! Designing is hard. Thanks for doing it.

  3. It’s funny how having a blog can add to your knitting impatience — it’s like you have a post all set to go in your head as soon as you get to point B and then instead you spend an entire week knitting something and then ripping it back to point Aand have nothing left to show for it — keeps knitting real, doesn’t it?

  4. The blog is a tough taskmistress! But I love what you do, so carry on, and we’ll see the new designs, eventually.

  5. I have only done a little bit of lace knitting (LOVE it, however), but lifelines are the best thing ever. I love the look of the shawl you’re designing!

  6. Off to put a lifeline in my shawl-in-progress…
    Happy knitting and weekending!

  7. Those of us who do minimal changes to the patterns you designers come up with, appreciate all you go through to “make ’em work”.

    I’d love to do it, but know between my weak math skills, and lack of patience, I’m doomed.

    Take you time and make the patterns wonderful, as usual.

  8. That last great big long paragraph there? All I can say is: YESSSSSSS!!!! I totally, totally get that, although the designing I do is for an entirely different craft. (Dressmaker/costumer in real life.) Every. Single. Time. I do a new design for someone, I get that whole “is this gonna work or am I gonna be *completely* screwed” feeling. Especially for the costuming part of my life, where I’m sometimes responsible for getting a *number* of lovely dancers on stage appropriately garbed.

    So, yes. I totally sympathize. Except that yarn is usually a whole lot more forgiving than fabric! 😀 Really, really looking forward to what you’ve come up with, too. I am not a big fan of yellow, but I desperately want to see that shawl blocked out!

  9. GinkgoKnits · ·

    I find that terror is usually combined with thinking, “I really should use lifelines.” Congrats on at least having learned that lesson.

  10. Thanks for sharing the difficult and frustrating parts of the process. Since I read a lot of blogs, I feel like I’m constantly reading about something that is finished, and it’s easy as a reader to feel like the process is simple for other people, and that I’m just, I don’t know. Slow. But in reality we all have to troubleshoot I guess…anyway, thanks.

  11. YEAH! Lifelines are an ongoing debate at the Verb for Keeping Warm Niebling KAL. Have been thinking about doing a whole blog post on them. Glad to see you’re in my camp on this one. 🙂

  12. Great job, nice post.

  13. Umm, why *wouldn’t* you want to put in a lifeline? I haven’t done any lace knitting yet, but the concept seems pretty sound. And kind of basic. I mean, mistakes occur — being able to minimize damage/get back to a place where you know things were working seems to make an awful lot of sense….

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