Designer Ups and Downs

Dec 14, 2015 | Designing Knits | 9 comments

Do you let your knitting successes and failures get to you? I know I do, maybe too much. I’ve had trouble sleeping all week; I keep waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts about my knitting patterns and projects. I’m excited that so many people are making the Simple Ball. And I’m terribly frustrated by all the dead ends I’m hitting as I try to complete the designs of my sea animals. 


Let me rant about Marla the Starfish for a second. I excitedly introduced her on the blog back in June, saying I was finally happy with her pattern and it was time to get her test-knitted. Well, shortly after I wrote that, I changed my mind. Though I loved the way she looked finished, I wasn’t satisfied with her pattern. As written at that point, I knit an arm and then picked up the stitches from the side of that arm to start the next arm. That was, frankly, an awkward amount of picking up stitches, and I felt like it wasn’t elegant enough for me to put out in the world.


So a couple weeks ago, I picked her up again, with a new idea: I could use short rows on each arm to construct her in one piece -without having to pick up any stitches at all. It was a brilliant knitting trick in my head. And one that failed. 

With the geometry required by the short rows, I found it impossible to make a 5-armed starfish. This version of Marla ended up with 7 arms. Sigh. It’s either back to the drawing board, or give up. (That second option is certainly sounding appealing at this moment.)

In a better state is Piet the Walrus. I talked about my first (far from perfect) walrus drafts on the blog back in August and September. I complained back then that he Piet looked more like “a mix between a lump of clay and a half-deflated balloon,” than like a Walrus. At least by now, after some designing struggles, he has a distinct body and head. Major improvement. His fins are maybe still too big, his head to small… but those are only minor things now. I’ll finish him and get the test knit process started in the next couple days.

The third animal in my sea life quartet is/was supposed to be Finn the Turtle. He looks like this:

Cute, right? I really like him. But, like Marla the Starfish, Finn the Turtle has the distinct problem of a messy non-elegant pattern with way too much picking up stitches and sewing bits together. I have a whole other revising challenge ahead of me before he’s ready to be presented to the world. 

Of course, one resounding success among my sea animals is Lasse the Whale. Last week, I knit up two more whales as Christmas orders from customers on Etsy, and I have to say, I really enjoyed following my own finished, polished pattern. Not to toot my own horn (okay, maybe to toot my own horn a little bit) the knitting was satisfying, clever and relaxing.

I don’t know when, if ever, Lasse’s ocean friends will join him as patterns for sale in the big wide world. I do know, with nearly a year of this project under my belt, that pattern writing is hard. Tremendously thrilling, consuming and hard.


How about you? Any knitting keeping you awake at night? Tell me about a knitting project that’s totally frustrating and/or totally thrilling your right now.