The Creative Blog Hop

This is the first one of these I've ever participated in, so thanks to Jacqui at Happymaking Designs for including me! She tagged me last week in her post, which I really enjoyed reading. It's always interesting to get a view into other's creative process and how they work. So welcome to anyone finding their way here from her site - I'm glad to have you for a visit!

Here are the blog hop questions:

1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

As I thought about these questions, I realised that my wooly creative life is inextricably linked with other parts of my life, so there's going to be more in here then just yarn. Consider yourselves warned...

What I'm working on:

Under normal circumstances, I knit, spin, crochet (some), weave (occasionally) and dye fiber. I also work part time as a biomedical research scientist. I started technical editing for knitting designers in May of this year, and am in the process of trying to do more scientific editing/writing as I get less enthusiastic about lab work. I'm on Ravelry as porpoise and my Rav designer page is here. You can find my handdyed fibers at Porpoise Fur.

It's been a crazy few months for my family. We moved to the UK from the States just over five years ago, as expats with my husband's company. At the beginning of April, the company said "We're sending you back to Houston at the end of July." This, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, but Himself and I are both from New England, and experienced more culture shock with moving to Texas in 2002 then in moving to the UK. So we spent a few weeks dithering about what to do, decided to stay in the UK indefinitely, and have spent the intervening weeks finding a new place to live, finishing the school year and sorting out new schools for the autumn, going on a long-planned and eagerly anticipated holiday to Norway, and packing up the house and moving. We haven't moved far, but it is still a huge drain on everyone's energies. My creative energy has been otherwise directed, not surprisingly. Our trip to Norway did give me huge inspiration on both the dyeing and knitting fronts - I came back full of ideas for new colorways and new projects (in some instances, with the same inspiration for both). Now the challenge is to get everything sorted out so I can get back to work on those ideas and get them out into reality.

The other thing I'm currently spending a lot of energy on is the Great London Yarn Crawl, of which I am one of the co-organisers. This event is a one-day stash enhancement extravaganza, happening this year on 20th September, where nine teams of yarn lovers visit four London yarn or haberdashery shops over the course of the day, ending with an after-party sponsored by Pom Pom Quarterly. It's happening in just over six weeks, so we are frantically trying to get everything sorted out for the big day.

How my work differs from others:

On the design side of things: as Jacqui said, this is a really tough question! The number of ways to knit a sweater or a sock are, let's be honest, not infinite. I think what can be strikingly different is how the designer got from inspiration to final piece. I find that a lot of my inspiration for knitwear design comes from structural examples - I've designed hats and mittens inspired by London sky scrapers, a stole that mimics pierced stone screens found at Moghul palaces in India, and socks that were inspired by the tiles of a swimming pool. I also am inspired by nature, and particularly by water. I love designing with textured stitch patterns; the process of trying to re-vision an architectural element or a waterfall in knitted fabric is more fun then should be legal.

On the dyeing side of things: my colorways all have a story behind them, whether its how cells divide, a number that shows up in art across the ages, or an inspiration that hits closer to home. I usually have an image in mind before I create a new colorway, and my dyeing process owes a huge debt to my lab background - every little detail gets written down so it can be successfully repeated as needed on different fiber bases.

Why I write/create:

Because I'd be a miserable pathetic ball if I didn't. Really and truly miserable.

It is a bit strange to think that there are strong similarities between scientific research and knitting design, but I find the skills needed for writing a scientific grant or an academic paper can also be applied to writing a knitting pattern or a technique tutorial. I find the challenge of writing a clear, easy to follow pattern really fun. This may be why I have found tech editing to be such a rewarding experience. I also find the puzzle solving process (of both science and designing) to be endlessly entertaining, just on its own. As well as requiring the same kind of out-of-the-box creative thinking. 

Dyeing is a never ending experiment: if I put this much dye on this fiber and heat it this way, what happens? The fact that other people seem to like the results, and go on to make beautiful things with them is the ultimate in gratification.

How my writing/creating process works:

  London Slouch photographed by the London Eye.

London Slouch photographed by the London Eye.

I've talked a little bit about this already, but let's take an example - the London Slouch hat. My "real" work is located near Waterloo Station, so every time I go to the lab from southwest London, where I live, I get to pass by the London Eye. One day I was daydreaming on the train, noodling about with ideas for a hat collection inspired by different cities (which became Travelling Hats), and was struck by the silhouette of the Eye against the sky - round cars at the end of long straight spines, wheeling across the skyline. The circular yarn over motifs around the hat were derived from a pattern in one of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries, and they are linked to each other over the crown of the hat by columns of twisted knit stitches, which mimic the spokes of the London Eye.

Thanks so much for coming to visit and read my babblings! To share the love, I'm going to tag my BKFF and GLYC Partner-in-Crime, Allison, at Champagne and Qiviut, and the fabulous Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. Alli is a thoroughly enthusiastic knitter, throwing herself at any and all projects with contagious enthusiasm, and is a fabulous resource in the world of marketing and social media - I'm looking forward to reading her thoughts on these questions. Linda creates the most gloriously rich and inviting colorways for her yarns, and I'm sure she'll have something new and exciting up her sleeve. 

Thanks again to Jacqui for tagging me, thank you for coming by to visit, and go check out my tag-ees - they are fabulous!