Monday, May 14, 2012

Creative Design?

Have you ever tried to design a pattern for anything?  I never gave the patterns I used much thought.  I found one I liked, bought the yarn (or a close substitute), the needles, swatched (or not), and started following the directions. 

Sometimes the directions are clear and easy to follow.  Other times, the wording is convoluted and confusing.  Sometimes it's obvious that the designer is a novice as evidenced by poor terminology or incorrect punctuation.  A misplaced set of brackets or the omission of a * can make a world of difference by the time you get to the end of the row!  The error might not even be the designer's - it could be the type-setter, the proof reader, or the editor.  None of us are perfect.  We all make mistakes.

About two years ago, I began working on some beaded Christmas ornaments.  They were all original, one-of-a-kind designs and I thought I might try my hand at writing out the patterns as I went along.  It was my first foray into free-form crochet and I was enthralled with the freedom of "just doing it."  But I soon found that freedom to be a two-edged sword.  It was very hard to take advantage of striking out with creative abandon when I had to stop every so often to write down what I had just done.  Have you ever noticed that the word "every" is just "very" with an "e" stuck on the front of it?  I had to stop VERY often!  It took away from the spontaneity of the thing somehow. 

On the other hand, if I didn't take the time to stop and write everything down, the combination of beads, the extreme free-form-ed-ness of the design, and my total lack of experience in this genre of crochet left me at a complete loss unable to back-track and record the stitches I had only just performed.  What I thought would be a fun project that might give me some extra Christmas income if I sold the patterns, turned out to be just one colossal headache.  It wasn't long before I abandoned the idea of becoming a "designer" and just plowed ahead with the crocheting.  Consequently, although  I can look at the ornaments. and get a basic idea of what I did at which juncture, the random details which serve to distinguish between one ornament and another are truly lost forever!

Considering that it was Christmas, my mind, and my beaten-down spirit turned to God -- the One who created us all and gave us us each our individual personalities and looks.  The One who makes sure that even with twins that no two are an exact duplicate of one another.  We are all created in His image but each of us is an individual.  Now think of that in terms of design skills!!  Boggles my mind!  Over the centuries, how many people...?  How many patterns...?  How much thinking ahead, planning...? 
And God even tells us how He does it!  No magic involved here.  In Psalm 139, verses 13 through 16, He has the Pslamist write, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

" knit me together in my mother's womb."  What an image those words form in my mind.  We all know the attention to detail it takes to knit a garment together and here, metaphorically speaking, are the hands of God, gently wielding a pair of shining knitting needles through which run the diaphanous threads of our lives, placing each stitch just exactly so, until we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and "woven together" very precisely, not haphazardly or without forethought. No! There was not only a pattern for each and every one of us, but each pattern fits into a plan which had been written out.  And for each of us.  Not one of us was a surprise.  Not one a project picked up just to kill time, rather, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

My studio is such a mess right now.  Stuff everywhere. Sock yarn mixed in with roving.  Patterns out of their binders.  It's a wonder I can find anything.  Since getting home from the hospital, I've created chaos and then done little to set things back in order.
The majority of my knitting and crochet consists of frogging and tinking and the closets contain more UFOs (UnFinished Objects) than FOs (Finished Objects).  Maybe I need to follow God's example more closely and get a plan in mind, write it down in a book, and follow it.  My results certainly won't be as fearfully and wonderfully made as His were, but certainly following His example can only result in improvement, right?
Until next time when things will be less chaotic...
Warmly with Wool and Cool as Cotton,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome Back to Starry Knits!

Hello everyone! How good it is to be back up and about. What started out to be a short hiatus got a lot more complicated than we ever anticipated, but thanks to all your prayers and God's faithfulness, my lungs are slowly healing from the three infections that seemed to attack from nowhere.

Probably the most surprising thing through all this was the profound weakness that overtook my entire being, both mentally and physically. I would have thought that I could at least pass the recovery time by knitting and crocheting. As it turned out, even the simplest patterns were beyond my comprehension and my hands shook so badly that I couldn't hold onto one, much less two, needles. But many thanks to my dear friend, Leslie, at who suggested that I get a ball of yarn and a hook and, if nothing else, crochet a skein's worth of chain stitches, just to keep the rhythm in my hands going. What a thought! And never being one to back down from a challenge, rather than waste an entire skein of precious stash on chains, I dug out a pattern I had been "saving" for a rainy day, and...

From favecrafts Crafts Collection by Bernat, the pattern is called Crochet Square Curtains. It's a really cool geometric pattern for window panels. The windows in Steve's office and my studio are sadly bare -- I keep telling myself it's part of the minimalist design in those rooms.

The filet crochet in a shaded box pattern is made up in a relatively simple repeat of only 66 stitches. That's easy enough for my brain to keep up with and my eyes can recognize a mistake before it gets miles away from me. My hands can handle the ch 2 and dc combinations, and the #10 crochet cotton thread worked with a #6 steel hook make me concentrate on regaining my coordination without totally frustrating me. Most of all, it's done wonders for my creative sense of self which I feel is coming back to life. Many, many thanks to Leslie and I'm really looking forward to our visit in June!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the progress I've made on the first panel...

And, as if that were not enough excitement for one day, just as I began gathering my thoughts and started writing yesterday, I received an email from Tina, who writes another of my favorite blogs,, letting me know that I had won first prize in her blog contest. I entered on a whim since I never win these things. The prize, really a prize-winner itself, is a pattern for a luscious lace shawl, Memoria, designed by Deborah Glaser. Hope I can do Deborah's amazing design justice. You can see her stunning design in the photo below.

Photo © ObliviousKnits – Used with permission

More of Deborah's designs are available on her Ravelry page:

Deborah also has a Facebook page at:

Again, I cannot tell you how great it is to be back with you. For the time being, I think I will keep the Starry Knits postings to once a week on Mondays. That way we can plan on starting our weeks off together. Looking forward to seeing you again soon,

Warmly with Wool and Cool as Cotton,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Starry Knits  Sorry to say that an unexpected hospital stay is causing a temporary delay in future publications of Starry Knits. We hope to be back up and, if not quite skipping along, then at least, walking at a steady pace and entertaining you with our stories in the next two or three weeks. In the meantime, we do ask not only that you check back regularly but that you would lift us up in prayer to God who will heal and move us forward according to His perfect timing.

Thank you all so much.