Designer driver

I’m looking the pattern my brioche-stitch hat for Bella Knitting, and can I just say EEEEE! I feel so official!

And at our meeting on Wednesday, Laura asked me to come up with a summery brioche-stitch shell. I’d already been plotting one in my head anyway, so I’d just like to say EEEEEE! A commission! I feel like a designer!

I have an odd history with design. If you look at the Knitter’s Geek Code on my “About” page, you’ll spot this:


It basically means “Strong interest in design; hope to make money at it/go pro.” I hesitated when I put it into my Geek Code because it seemed like such a dopey fantasy. Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to be a designer — except for me. I have been preaching about how stupid it is since I was very, very small.

Except I was a total liar. I flat-out refused to play with Barbie, but there was one toy I stole constantly from my sisters: the fashion kit. There was this little plastic plate with a relief outline of Barbie on it, and you’d put a piece of paper over it, scrape your pencil over it and get an outline of a Barbie. You could swap in different plates with different clothes to create new looks, but I’d always pick the plainest clothes so I could draw my own fashions. I loved it and would never, ever admit it.

I have sketchbooks full of scribbles about clothes I wanted to make — kind of a crazy mash-up of 1960s Mod, Motown, and Op Art with 18th- and 19th-century men’s fashion. (Yes, the movie Velvet Goldmine makes me squeal with delight. The clothes! The music! Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Myers with no clothes on!) Miniskirts, jewel tones, military tailoring, long coats, go-go boots and high-contrast floral and geometric prints make me swoon. (Sarah and I got to nerd about about clothes the other day — bliss!)

And you know what? There just isn’t too much of that running around in the fashion world, and even less in the knitting arena. But my take is, if you don’t like your world, change it. If you don’t know how, then learn.

I’m nearing the end of the third hank of Cash Iroha on the Stitch Diva bodice. Everything’s going great, the Cash Iroha feels like amazing (once I pick the occasional little jagged bits out of it) and I am going stir crazy. I want to make my own damn sweater! The only reason I’m slogging through other people’s patterns is so I can learn about construction, and then I’m off. I figure one more top-down sweater, maybe with saddle shoulders (man I love those) and then a couple with set-in sleeves, and then I am gonna take over the damn world.

Oh, and I have to make a Tubey, because it is adorable and looks like a quick knit. It’s also styled like the vintage clothes I love. I am a sucker for a good neckline, and Tubey is it!

I’ve also shelled out seven bucks for the Stitch Diva Sahara pattern. I noticed it had set-in sleeves that are picked up around the armhole and shaped with short rows, and I am intrigued. I have a pile of unbelievably sexy, slippery, glossy Egyptian cotton that I bought to make a skirt drawstring before I realized I wouldn’t be caught dead in hippie gear. I’ve been picking it up and turning it over every couple of months, wondering what it should become instead, and I think this is it.

Stitch Diva: SaharaSahara, modeled by a pod person on Venus

Just one thing: I love the pattern (cleavage central!), but the photos creep me out. They Photoshop their photos to the point where the models no longer look human. There’s this trick in photo editing where you can gently blur a person’s skin while you leave the eyes nice and sharp. When it’s done with subtlety, it gives the skin a nice, smooth, even tone without looking blatantly soft-focus. When it’s done badly, as it is with a whole lot of production photography, the models look like poreless, rubbery pod people. Plus the colors are totally out of whack! The models look like they’re standing on a different planet with a sulfur sky and lakes of roiling acid. I get that the one photo here is supposed to look like it was shot at sunset, but what color is the sun — green?!

I’ve been eyeballing this pattern ever since it came out a few months ago, but it never occurred to me to buy it until I saw a snapshot of it on a regular person. I’m all about photography and digital retouching, but it’s a little hard trying to visualize yourself in a knit pattern when you can’t stop thinking about how the model looks like she’s too busy receiving messages from space to notice her human costume is starting to melt off.

The verdict: gorgeous pattern, beautiful model, totally readable and well-organized pattern, and post-production that would look right at home being mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000. But the part that really counts is this: I can’t wait to knit it!