Beautiful Knitting

Where Mt.Mom knits, crochets, designs, and seeks Beauty as food for the soul.

Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 1

Posted by mtmom on January 25, 2011

I thought I might share a bit about how my design process went for the tams I just submitted to Cast On magazine.

The Idea.

Years ago, I borrowed a copy of Barbara G. Walker’s book, Knitting Counterpanes — about preserved examples of an old tradition of bedspreads handknit of tiny cotton yarn.  (Interlibrary loans are a WONDERFUL thing!)  In it, I saw several spreads/counterpanes constructed of small, repeated medallions.  I recall swatching a few of them, and sketching several others.  I made a child-size beret out of one of them by working a center-out medallion for the top, then a sort of turning ridge of several rounds of reverse stockinette, then I decreased back down while trying to maintain as much of the patterning as I could.  A plain ribbed band finished it off.

Pink Swirl Tam, side view

Pink Swirl Tam, top view

The Opportunity.

Cast On sent out a call for designs for the summer 2011 issue, with a special emphasis (among other topics) on tams and berets.  I remembered the pink tam and the gears started turning.

The Swatches.

I no longer had the Walker book, and I didn’t keep the pink tam in front of me to check.  I went from (fallible) memory while also keeping in mind some changes I wanted to make.  I started knitting at the center, and when the swatch was large enough I began to think of an edging that would lie flat.  I decided on garter stitch, but didn’t want the spirals to just STOP at the edge of the border —  hmmm, could the spirals continue THROUGH the garter st background, as they had over the stockinette?  YES!  I liked this very much.

I had 2 different yarns I was considering working with:  the white yarn was new to me, but came highly recommended; the purple was left over from a shawlette KAL 2 autumns ago, and I had thoroughly enjoyed working with it back then.  I made a swatch from EACH of them and decided to send both.  I would let the committee consider both and choose.

Swatch in white alpaca/wool worsted weight

Swatch in purple mohair/silk laceweight doubled

.

.

The Sketches.

I figured the different yarns would make different fabrics that would drape differently, so I sketched out the 2 options:  one floaty, one droopy.  I traced the bare essentials of 2 faces from a clothing catalog and added in the hats freehand.  The results were not bad, and they communicated the ideas.  I described how I would construct the hats and how I expected each version would look.  I filled out the rest of the paperwork (yarn brands and alternatives, gauges, sizes, etc.) and mailed it all off to Ohio.

The Decision.

The editorial committee wrote back and asked if I would knit BOTH hats, to show the different looks!  OK, I’m in!

Next chapter (Lord willing):  the yarn, the pattern-writing and the prototype knitting.

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2 Responses to “Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 1”

  1. Kathleen said

    Good luck! I enjoyed reading through both parts of your design process.

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