• The Magpie Knitter…

    ...trying to get from "Oooooh, shiny!" to a design.
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  • Jen Johnson began knitting in 2007 while pregnant with her daughter and does most of her knitting for her daughter and son. When she couldn’t find the patterns she wanted, she added designer to her job titles of Navy wife and mother. Jen loves the inspiration she gets from all the beautiful yarns available, as long as she doesn’t get distracted by—ooh, shiny!
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The Birth of a Design, Part I: The Concept and the Yarn

I mentioned in my very first post that this all started with a call for patterns from Sharon of Three Irish Girls. As soon as I saw the announcement, I knew I wanted to do children’s patterns. I do most of my knitting for kids, either my two or my niece (and now my nephew). And I knew I wanted one of the designs to work well for boys.

I’ve found that if you want to knit for a baby or toddler boy, you’ve got a fair number of nice options. If you want to knit for a teenaged or adult male, you’ve got some pretty good options. But if you want to knit for a boy in between those extremes…not so much, it seems. Certainly not much that isn’t a) plain stockinette or b) cabled; the big addition seems to be some sort of colorwork, but not much interest due to stitch patterns that aren’t cables.

I also really wanted to do something with the Three Irish Girls’ Lindon Merino. When I got my first club shipment of that yarn base, I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. It’s a minimally processed yarn, so to me it felt a bit rough in the skein.  And looking at the pattern ideas tab on the Lindon Merino page on Ravelry, the majority of the patterns are shorties, longies, or skirties (short, long, and skirted soakers). I really didn’t have need for any of those for my kids, so I tucked the yarn away to figure something out later.

In the meantime, I’d gotten a few more skeins of the Lindon through the club, and as I really liked the colorways, I wanted to find something to do with them. Then I learned that I was going to have a nephew…and I found the Mossy Jacket. I loved the pattern and I loved the colors the designer used, and I happened to have some Lindon in a colorway with blues, greens, and purples…as well as some brown, so I was able to get Sharon to custom dye me some semi-solid brown for the trim. As I knit up the jacket, I discovered something: I loved the feel of Lindon as it knit up. It was amazing how much it softened with handling.

The second part of my decision to use Lindon came from a visit to The Yarn Spot. One thing Sharon has done is dye up custom colorways for several of her retailers that are available only at that store, and at The Yarn Spot the colorway is Pansies:

3IG Pansies

Pansies are my all-time favorite flower, and my favorite pansy is the yellow and purple one. So as soon as Victoria from The Yarn Spot posted to the Ravelry Three Irish Girls group that she was getting this yarn, I made plans to get me some. I loved seeing how the same colorway looked on all the different bases Victoria was carrying, so I picked up some Wexford Merino Silk (far right) for me, some Glenhaven Cashmerino (second from right) for my daughter, some Springvale Super Merino (second from left) that my son has claimed…and some Lindon Merino (far left) with no idea what I was going to with it.

But it was really pretty. Yes–it was an “ooooooh, shiny!” moment.

3IG Lindon Merino Pansies

Before I even left the store, the yarn spoke to me. (Yes, yarn talks to me. Yes, my husband thinks that’s weird. That’s just ’cause he can’t hear the yarn. I think it talks at a frequency that falls outside a non-knitter’s or -crocheter’s range of hearing. No, I don’t talk back to my yarn. Yarn doesn’t have ears. Sheesh.) And it told me that it wanted to be part of my design proposal. (Yes, I do what my yarn tells me to do. Otherwise, it doesn’t let me sleep at night.)

So, here were my design inspirations and goals:

  • a sweater (cardigan, by preference) suitable for boys yet with interesting stitch texture
  • Lindon Merino, starting with the Pansies colorway

That last would have a big influence on my next decision point.


11 Responses

  1. Yay for listening to the yarn! It’s amazing how some yarns virtually scream out what they want to be…

  2. My husband doesn’t understand the talking-yarn thing, either. I have to admit, though, that when my yarn starts to get out of line, I have been know to talk to *it*. Sternly, even.

  3. Of course yarn talks! How else would we know what to buy?

  4. […] Does the colorway look familiar? It’s the Pansies from The Yarn Spot I talked about earlier (2nd from the right in the line-up photo). Glenhaven CashMerino is a 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon […]

  5. […] The Birth of a Design, Part II: What to Stitch, What to Stitch Posted on August 10, 2010 by jinniver Read Part I here. […]

  6. […] Part III: To Swatch, Perchance to Knit Posted on August 16, 2010 by jinniver Read Part I here. Read Part II […]

  7. […] Does the colorway look familiar? It’s the Pansies from The Yarn Spot I talked about earlier (2nd from the right in the line-up photo). Glenhaven CashMerino is a 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon […]

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