Designing as Soul Soothing

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ― Elizabeth Zimmermann

I love that quote from Elizabeth Zimmermann, except I would amend it a bit to say that designing knitwear is more soothing to my soul than knitting is. The puzzle work involved in each design challenges my mind in a wholly positive way. My confidence is stroked and I feel more centered; although, it can be super stressful at times.  Recently, I have desired to be more mindful in the mundane. Mundane can become so automatic and thoughtless. But in actuality the mundane is life: cleaning, re-cleaning, cooking, eating, sleeping, exercising – you know, every day life stuff. And even though I knit everyday, it doesn’t seem to be part of the mundane to me.  It feels alive and engaging, and I think that it escapes the mundane because I focus  on the designing opposed to the knitting.  Designing brings the mundane to life for me.

Finding my niche in designing was a happy little accident. I have dyslexia and following instructions is tedious and frustrating.  And knitting patterns have a language system of their own, so I found it very difficult to stay focused on designs written by other people (and I still do). What I started doing naturally, is looking at patterns I liked and then modifying the pattern as I worked each section.  This helped me enjoy the knitting process much more, and it created a way for me to avoid constantly looking at the pattern for direction. When I tried that I would miss too many things in the written pattern and end up feeling like frustrated and dumb (for lack of a better word). So, in some ways I started designing without realizing it by modifying patterns in my head and guessing my way through some of my favorite designs.

I started an Etsy shop years ago and posted (unsuccessfully, I might add) many, many cowls and scarves that I designed myself.  Granted, I can see that they weren’t the best sellers on Etsy, but it got my wet in the knitting design pool.

Then one day I got a wild hare idea to submit to Knitty and I worked a design from concept to paper.  It wasn’t accepted, but it was a great exercise on what it took to write a knitting pattern. From there I was hooked. Here is a glamor shots picture of the rejected Knitty design.  This poor hat went through the wash recently and was laid to rest (RIP).

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The real boost to my knitting design journey was getting a design accepted by Interweave Knits for a special issue for Accessories (Pointilist Hat). I remember getting the acceptance email and dancing all over my house. I was so excited.  Little did I know how much work went into meeting a deadline and creating a good pattern from scratch.  Although, now I love deadlines and find them the ultimate motivator. Then, I barely made the deadline and with some blocking mishaps, it made for quite the nail-biter in the eleventh hour.

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Photo from Interweave Knits

Unexpectedly, I found designing to be a confidence builder and not in the way one would expect.  Yes, it is wonderful to see other people knit up my designs.  I LOVE it!  But the part of designing that builds my confidence is the deadline making. I am an extremely pokey knitter.  And I am confident that if I didn’t have deadlines, I would never finish a design (and I have several sitting around proving that point). Every time I make that seemingly impossible deadline, I gain so much pride and confidence in my self.  That is priceless to me, especially when my designs are rejected or received poorly.

I hope to continue designing for years to come, because it does soothe my soul and it connects me to a creative world that anchors my mind and allows me to make life more beautiful. You can find my designs on Ravelry here.

Have you considered the reasons why you knit? In what ways do you find knitting as soothing (or not)?

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