Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For the Love of Counterpane

Before I begin, what exactly is a counterpane?  I'm sure at least one of you is wondering.  Historically speaking, it is a blanket worked in blocks either from fabric (as in quilting) or knitted/crocheted and sewn together.  But lately in the knitting world 'counterpane' has referred to the construction of a knitted piece when it is worked from the center outwards (and sometimes outer edge to the center).  If you type 'counterpane' into the search field in the Patterns section of Ravelry you will come up with some lovely sweaters and blankets with lacy motifs that are worked from the center outwards.  While working on some new designs, I came to realize that counterpane constructions are sort of my 'thing'.  I love designing with them, and thus far my counterpane designs have been my most successful.  See Camellia Shrug from Knitscene, self published Aster Vest, and now my newly published Sakura Tee in Interweave Knits.  (Sorry I can't seem to put the photos next to each other.  I don't know how to fix the HTML :(   )

My love affair with counterpane constructions began with the second sweater I ever made, The Starburst Sweater by Kristin Omdahl.  Back then it was a pattern available on Knit Picks and I loved the flower motif on the back.  I knit it up in a slightly obnoxious pink color and ended up with a very warm and cozy sweater that I loved.  (As a side note, there are lots of things wrong with how I knit up this sweater, namely twisting my stitches and not checking my gauge.  Not a fault at all with the pattern, totally a problem with me!)

It wasn't until years later and after making lots of hats from the top down that I learned to love the center-outwards construction and wondered how that could translate into clothing.  I think it was while I was looking at a pretty circular lace shawl in A Gathering of Lace that it really hit me that a lace vest with a circular medallion would be pretty awesome.  After that it didn't take long for me to conceptualize the design for my Aster Vest.  I thought it was a pretty design, but I had no idea it would become my best seller or get so many positive comments.  It was modeled in a fiber-arts fashion show (mostly because we needed a few more outfits) and much to my surprise the audience gasped when the model turned around the showed off the back.

As pretty as counterpane (or as I usually call them 'medallion') constructions are, they bring up a set of problems on their own.  How does one deal with the multi-directional knitting? How do you make a square or circle conform to the human body?  When making larger sizes, how do you compensate for the longer length as well as width since people get much wider before they get longer?  It takes some creative shaping and designing and involves lots of math when it comes to making mutliple sizes.  But I think it is worth the effort when you end up with a unique design.  I will have more counterpane designs for you in the future, but just wanted to share my thoughts with you on the subject.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Friends

Tonight I have to say goodbye to two friends.  Such is the way of military life.  People seem to come and go so quickly, you start to get to know them then it is time to say goodbye when they move on to a new post.  Pretty soon I'll be the one moving on, this time to North Carolina.  I'm hoping to find some fiber loving friends there and hopefully settle down for a couple of years.  One of the best parts of being a knitwear designer is that I can design anywhere in the world.  Hopefully all this travelling will mean I am exposed to new sources of inspiration.

On another note, I've already seen the beginnings of two Sakura Tee.  Can't wait to see some finished projects!