Collection design and me

First things first – thank you to everyone who entered my raffle for earthquake relief in Japan, and congratulations to Natalie, Rosemary, Jenny, and Hanne, who won the prizes! I sent them off yesterday, and ladies, my apologies for the weird handwritten notes in blue marker. I couldn’t find grown up writing implements. Yup.

It’s been a long week. I had all three kids at home for a lot of it, and then I caught whatever bug they had, which meant that there was one ugly day where they were getting better and I was coming down with what they had, and they had a lot more energy than I did and basically ran the show all day. There was also one blessedly easy day where two of the sickies slept for the vast majority of the day, so I suppose it evens out.

Heyo! I’ve returned, slowly, to the ebook I was working on prior to Understory. I had it in my head that it was best not to show anything from that enterprise until it was done, but frankly, that no longer seems to make as much sense to me, and I can’t quite remember why I had that idea. I’m planning for the collection to have 9 or 10 accessory patterns, but which ones are still in flux.

The general idea is that each of these projects, with the exception of a shawl that is not pictured, would use relatively small amounts of yarn, enabling a knitter to get some pretty matching accessory sets out of one or two skeins of yarn. I like this idea because, I hope, it would give knitters a chance to try some luxury yarns without spending as much as one would on yarn for a large project. I also got excited about this because, like many knitters, I have a lot of pretty scarves and hats and mitts and other cool weather accessories and most of them cannot be worn together without making me look a little silly. Matching accessory sets can make an outfit look neat and tailored, and I’m hoping that many of the items in the collection can be mixed and matched as well.

As it stands, I’m currently planning on the collection consisting of two hats, two shawls, one cowl, one neckwarmer, one mitt set, a pair of boot socks, and a headband. Work on it is sporadic, as it comes between deadline projects, but I’m still excited about it.

This is the first ebook I started, but has become my second ebook. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I thought I’d talk a little about how I plan a collection. I don’t claim to be speaking for anyone but myself, and I suspect there are better, more efficient ways to work. However, for me, a pattern or a collection starts with a color palette. I want the different items in the collection to be harmonious with each other, but also to showcase different colors. I also think color can set a mood and a connecting theme behind a variety of disparate items.

In Understory, the colors were meant to reflect the setting of the collection – the understory of a forest after spring rains. The basic palette was suggested by Hannah Thiessen, and I had some leeway to choose my own colors, picking spring greens, yellows, greys, and a flash of bright red. The current project, Jolie With Pointy Sticks, is somewhat vintage inspired, more urban, and has a palette primarily of reds and yellows with beiges, golds, and purples, not currently in the picture. I have an idea board for a future collection as well with a completely different palette of bright and dark colors meant to convey youth and energy.

Colors tell a story, whether we mean them to or not, and it seems to me that any design is itself a story that we’re selling. There are many patterns out in the world, but the ones that speak to us as knitters and consumers are the ones that tell a story we want to hear or be a part of. My personal rule for knitting patterns is that I have to have fun knitting them myself before I’m willing to sell them to other people. I also try to tell stories I want to hear. None of us can please everyone, and I think in trying, we tend to create something pretty bland that doesn’t reflect our personal vision. (The painting experiment form of this is Komar and Melamid’s Most and Least Wanted series, in which they created paintings based on polling information from different countries.) This isn’t to say that the opinions of others should be disregarded outright, but that if a project doesn’t speak to you, it probably won’t be one you invest in wholly. I start with colors because they set a tone, literally, that lets me know which way I want to go with the project as a whole.

The colors sort of direct the aesthetic for me a bit. The reds and yellows I picked are less high school mascot colors and more warm tones that I have seen used in a lot of vintage dresses. I started looking at movie stills and vintage fabrics and picking up on ideas and details I liked from them. The end results are not necessarily going to reflect their inspiration to everyone who looks at them, but if the story is harmonious to me, the projects fun to knit and wear, and the end result feels whole, I think at least I can be comfortable with what I’m offering.

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3 Responses to “Collection design and me”

  1. Tracy Says:

    I love the idea of coordinating collections. It makes perfect sense, yet not enough people write patterns like that.

  2. Natalie Says:

    Yay for the yarn! It’s really interesting to hear about your process. Sometimes I start with colour and sometimes I start with an idea and then I look for the right colour. I know I’m happiest knitting with a colour I find pleasing. I also go on colour binges where I seem to covet/buy mostly one colour for months at a time.

  3. octoberrose Says:

    I just received the yarn today! Thank you for hosting the contest. 🙂

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