It has now been almost a month since the release of my High Desert eBook and I have yet to write individual posts about each of the patterns, as per my promise. I keep meaning to, but I’ve been having a mental block about it; I don’t know why. I used to get this mental block in graduate school and would find myself sitting in front of the computer for hours until I would finally just force myself to start writing something. That first sentence was always the hardest.
Okay, here goes…
One of the interesting things about the release of the book has been seeing which patterns are the most popular, and that the general popularity of the patterns roughly corresponds to my favorite as well. For example, the three most popular of the patterns are Tumbleweed, Oleander, and Camas Lily, which are also my favorite. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the other patterns but these three have really stolen my heart. And my absolute, number one, favorite of my favorite patterns is Camas Lily.
I had had an idea for a cardigan with an undulating lace pattern sketched out in my notebook for a long time and when this book opportunity came along, this was the first pattern that I set out to make a reality. And the pattern itself flowed together seamlessly, as though the idea in my head was so thoroughly imagined that I already knew how each element would come together. Most designs don’t come together so easily, so Camas Lily was really amazing in that way.
I read a lot of interviews with pattern designers and find it particularly fascinating to read about what inspires designers to design what they design. While I, too, am inspired by architecture, fine art, geology, runway fashion, and the infinite wonder of the universe, at the end of the day, what inspires me to actually design and knit something is more basic to what I want to wear and what I find enjoyable to knit. While I have discovered a love for sewing garments, I still don’t tend to enjoy sewing my knits; as a result, I tend to design pieces that require very minimal seaming. I also tend to find knitting miles and miles of stockinette in the round rather boring, and prefer to knit and design pieces that I find interesting to work on. (Although, a good friend directed me to the obvious advantage to knitting miles and miles of stockinette in the round: subtitled films.) Stitch patterns with cables or lace are particularly appealing to me because I love watching how the increases and decreases, cables to the front or to the back, come together to make patterns that are both visually interesting and exciting to knit. The stitch pattern for Camas Lily is a twin leaf motif and it was both stimulating and satisfying watching the leaves grow and grow, as healthy leaves should.
Speaking of leaves, I don’t want to downplay nature as a source of inspiration and how wilderness is significantly more important to me than runway fashion in my design process. When anyone learns that I went to university in Montreal and Sweden, without fail, their next question is why I live in Idaho (when compared to Montreal and Stockholm, it could be that Idaho doesn’t elicit the same visions of glamor and excitement). Well, for one, I have a good number of friends here, so that’s important to me. But wilderness and the ability to escape into nature is a HUGE reason why I choose to live in Idaho. Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about moving elsewhere (as amazing as Idaho is, it is not perfect), but I feel very attached to the high desert landscapes of southwest Idaho. Hence, why I decided to make this book my homage to the high desert.
Camas Lily brings together some of my favorite elements in a handknit sweater. The fingering weight yarn yields a sweater that I find to be the ideal thickness/thinness both for flattering the figure and for temperature regulation (the sweater is neither too hot nor too cold, but is juuust riiight). Cropped sleeves further enhance the temperature control factor, making it more ideal as a transitional sweater because your arms can breathe if the environment is on the warmer side of cool and facilitates the wearing of super cozy fingerless mittens that extend up the arm if the environment is on the cooler side of cool. And the advantages of a cardigan, in my mind, speak for themselves: ease of putting on and pulling off, wear open if warm, wear closed if cold, not to mention the universal truth that cardigans are just awesome. Also, I prefer to wear all cardigans (and the Camas Lily in particular) open like the model in the above photo is wearing it.
One of the reasons I procrastinated writing about these patterns is that I wasn’t sure what I should write that wasn’t already written in the pattern description; I didn’t want to just copy and paste what I had already written.
However, it occurred to me that a good topic for this blog would be to show you photos of the sweater and different people wearing it! A discussion a while back in the Designers forum on Ravelry was “being one’s own model” and that is very germane to those of us who self-publish and can be problematic because designers might not be trained models (and we might slouch in front of the camera, or smile awkwardly and crop our face from the photo because we’re self-conscious about how we look). Having professional photographers and professional models is wonderful for producing higher quality photographs, obviously, and I was elated (and relieved) when Knit Picks said that they would take care of the modeling and photography! So, here I am, showing you photos of different people wearing the sweater… from the professional model, to the camera-shy.
These final photos are of my friend Amy (who was the friend with the brilliant insight about stockinette in the round allowing a person to actually watch subtitled films), who was able to test knit a larger size of the sweater. As you can see, the sweater looks nice on three completely different bodies. These photos of Amy I just snapped very quickly using my telephone camera, so I apologize if they are a bit awkward.
If you would like to make a Camas Lily of your very own (or for a very special person, who must be extraordinarily special because you knit for them), here is the link to Knit Picks where you can buy a copy of just this pattern for $4.99 or the entire e-book (which includes 6 patterns) for $9.99. Suggested yarn for this sweater is Knit Picks Capretta (which is what all of the sweaters pictured here are knit in) and that would be an excellent yarn if you are looking for something that is so soft that you would want to spend all of eternity swaddled in it. If you don’t need to be swaddled in yarnie goodness for all eternity and are interested in knitting this sweater using a more durable yarn, I would personally recommend the Stroll Tonal line, which is what Amy and I both made our Star Gazing Cardigans from, which has a higher nylon content and fantastic colors.
Finally, I promise to continue to give myself a hard time about blogging about the rest of the patterns. I might not actually post about them in a timely fashion, but rest assured that I will be making myself feel badly until I do post about them.
(Amy decided not to add the buttons, but here she is modeling how it would look if she had. …OMB, doesn’t she have great hair!)