Sunday, June 22, 2008

A New Bag & Things to Think About

First, the new bag ... made from one skein of taupe and two of stone (had plenty left over of both colours) of Lion Brand Cotton Ease. The pattern is a really popular one on Ravelry, accessible via my project page (Ravelry link). It's closed with a magnetic snap, and I sewed a shell disc over top to hide the metal ugliness. There's a pocket inside to corral pens, crochet hooks, etc. Yep, I lined it with freakin' expensive quilt fabric - but better used and in a bag than sitting in storage in the crawlspace, eh?

Just for fun I made one larger square in a fancy lace block pattern, and stuck it on the bottom of the bag in place of four regular squares. I'd rather have people behind me on the street / in the grocery store looking at the bottom of my bag than the bottom of me.

Emo always helps with the photo styling. He considers himself extremely photogenic. He's right. Cute little bugger, isn't he? And now I know that the bag easily transports 8lbs of squirmy cat, with the only damage being the addition of a layer of fine cat fluff.

Now on to something more serious than crocheted cat carriers / tote bags ...

Lately I've been stricken with a pretty serious case of take yarn out from stash, fondle, swatch, rip out swatch in frustration, put yarn beside chair for later consideration, go back down to stash and begin again. The pile next to my chair is threatening to smother me! But I'm really struggling to commit to a particular project (except the bag - it only took three days so doesn't really count).

So I need to start asking myself some serious questions before I start swatching yet another completely new project. Quick project or a serious time investment? Practical or frivolous? Product or process? Just for me, or potential for pattern sales?

My tendency is to choose projects that are quick to provide satisfaction, such as my recent trend toward cotton trivets and the latest bag. And a lot of my recent swatching has been for shawls / stoles / scarves, some of which would be pretty darned quick. But the swatch itself is the ultimate in quick projects. Sadly I'm not getting a lot of useful results from this time, though, so I need to start committing to investing a decent amount of time on a more serious project.

Again, most of what I've been doing lately is frivolous stuff. The cardigan was the major exception to this, and the fact that I've worn it nearly every day since I finished it indicates to me that maybe more cardigans are in order. Because really, I don't wear shawls / stoles / scarves in the home, yet I spend the majority of my time here! So more than one cardigan sounds like a damned good idea.

Then there's the consideration of product versus process. Yes, I enjoy the finished products. But sometimes I don't feel like labouring over the same stitch pattern in the same yarn for the weeks required to make a cardigan for a fatty like me. If I was a size two, wearables would be a lot faster to produce. But I'm not. And seeing as I tend to be more of a process person than a product person, I abandon a great many projects part way through, having bored of that particular process (combination of stitch pattern and yarn) and wanting to move on. We won't talk about the stacks of milk crates with UFOs in them. Nope. Not at all.

So I need to become more of a product knitter / crocheter / spinner / quilter. But shifting that mind set is neither easy nor quick. It will take time and dedication. But I think that if I allow myself occasional pointless swatching and intersperse the lineup with instant gratification projects, I may be able to make the change.

Finally, I love the fact that I have a self-published pattern that is somewhat successful. There are shawls out there in the world made following my pattern. That's pretty freakin' cool! But in order to write and publish another pattern, I need to choose projects that are (a) of interest to others, (b) made of yarns that can be easily found or at least easily substituted, and (c) sized appropriately. Thus the not publishing another pattern yet. It's a shitload of work! And knowing in advance that I might publish the pattern limits my ability to ad-lib. Okay, it kills it. And those projects that I've started with publishing in mind have so far crashed headlong into the wall of damn-I'm-tired-of-this-and-it's-way-too-much-freakin'-work-so-I-quit.

So after all of this thinking and copious note taking, stash analysis / review, sketching, swatching, and general whinging and moaning, I've decided to start on three new projects.

1. Another lacy cardigan. It's the most practical choice for me (something I'll actually wear / use!!!), but the most work if I decide to publish (sizing from fat me to all the smaller sizes that are standard in most patterns). I have some yarn options, so swatching will ensue. This could go one of two ways. Either I'll end up creating something original and struggle through the pattern work, or I'll get sick of the writing and calculations and just make another cardi identical to the last, in all but colour.

2. A casual scarf in a luxurious lace weight yarn. This will be a fun break from slugging through the cardigan. But the goal is definitely to have this be publishable, so the project will require dedication to the writing and editing part. Ugh. But fun scarf? Yay!

3. A two piece bag set. I'm envisioning a large tote suitable for hauling library books around or carrying a large knitting / crochet project, plus a smaller purse for wallet, Kleenex, keys, cell phone, etc. Ideally they would be from the same yarn and kind of match, while still each being a stand alone piece. I've sketched up a bunch of ideas, and have a good handle on the look I'm going for, but am running into the issue of lining. Good bags / purses are nicely lined. But I don't want to have to write up a sewing pattern for each bag as well as a knitting or crochet pattern! Yet "line if desired" seems like such a cop out. I'll have to do some market research on this.

So after all of this head scratching, scribbling, swatching and general mess making, I still can't commit. Maybe I'm just not ready yet. So I think I'll go do the dishes and maybe some laundry. Those things, at least, I have a plan of approach for, and know how to properly see them through. Product, not process. Clothes to wear, and clean dishes.


Caroline M said...

I've had a few weeks where all I've done is knit and rip and I too have a pile of yarn that needs to be put away. I don't know what the answer is other than to wait it out, I tried a logical approach but it just didn't work for me. I knit for fun, not for the garment or producing a pattern so if it's not fun it's pretty much over.


ColetteS said...

Welcome back! It's nice to see you blogging again. I love the crocheted cardigan. I like your version a lot more than the one featured in the book.

I think I understand what you're going through. Lately I have not been knitting or crocheting much, because I feel that everything I make must be publishable. It really does suck the fun out of things. I think you need to just do what you like and enjoy the process of creating. I personally think that if the process in fun the there will be a finished product.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see you blogging again. I love Emo's purse (No I don't care what the design is really called, this one will forever be Emo's Purse)

One day you will wake up and process will be product and it will all come together. Just call these in between times play time. All that swatching is really about learning about what you have in stock and how it behaves isn't it.

Process or product is all good, and as long as you keep finding joy in learning about it, it is all good. Besides, I think I know where this one is going, so I can say process and product, can't I!


JanetK said...

I love the Emo shots! He sure does know how to appreciate the work you put into your projects.