Sunday, December 5, 2010

There and Back Again

As I get older and gain the ability to take a very long view, I'm starting to see themes emerge in my life. Not everything is cyclical, but some things sure are. We return to places and people we find comfortable. Sometimes it's a rut, but sometimes it's a return to a problem, puzzle, or challenge.

Okay, enough with being all cryptic, I am going somewhere with this and I should get down to it. Several weeks ago, I realized that I would be sadly unable to attend Adrian's fabulous Mitten School. I was trying to think of something fibery I could do, or something I could splurge on to console myself. Something that was less expensive than a plane ticket to Kansas, but would present a learning opportunity (as Mitten School certainly would have done). And I got to thinking about Kristine's mitten contest from last year, and how it wasn't happening this year because they've just moved to a fabulous new store.

Hey! What about the failed initial mitten design from the contest? The two- five-color Arts & Crafts Tile-inspired one? Couldn't I do something with that? The idea hit me and stuck like a bad tv commercial jingle. If I wrote another mitten pattern I'd be working on mittens and feel a bit better about not attending the workshop. Furthermore, a small part of my brain started telling me that if my pattern turned out to be popular, I'd feel even better about not going to the workshop because it would be proof that I didn't really need instruction on how to knit mittens. Well, at this point I starting feeling bad about that little selfish egotistical part of my brain and all its ungrateful thoughts about education. Of course I could have gotten something valuable out of the workshop, and even making up a new mitten pattern wouldn't change that (no matter how wildly popular it ended up being).

I dug out all my old notes from the mitten contest, and starting thinking about more mittens. I pulled out all the mittens I've ever knit, and starting thinking more about things like thumb length, gauge, and the like. I asked myself: just how pointy do I like the tops of mittens to be? I figured that this year, I would try to draw more inspiration from Adrian's mitten patterns, which all have this whimsical vintage quality that I just adore. No external deadlines this year, only self-imposed ones. If everything went according to plan, I should have another pattern ready in time for the holidays. And I really liked the idea of making a new pattern every year. Maybe next year I won't do mittens, or maybe I will, I thought. But for this year, I give you the Sluggish Mushroom mittens:

Sluggish Mushrooms

I kept putting off taking photos of these mittens. I was a little apprehensive about publishing the pattern right away, because many of my test knitters (who knew that the mitten pattern is supposed to look like mushrooms) had friends or strangers commenting on their lovely jellyfish mittens! So I waited and waiting, trying to decide if I wanted to literally go back to the drawing board and try again with the chart. And then I decided that, like a good book, the individual knitter's interpretation and experience that they bring to the pattern are part of what makes the creative process so rewarding and fulfilling on both ends. So it can be like one of those optical illusion pictures. One way it's a duck, one way it's a guy with a big nose. But just in case, I decided I should take pictures with lots of mushrooms around the finished product.

Sluggish Mushrooms

It was overcast and drizzly today, and a short stroll through the park rewarded us with a nice little colony of mushrooms. The husbeast was helping me photograph, and after we had both finished taking shots of the mittens lying flat I pulled one pair on my hands to get some photos of them on a human being. While I was putting my camera away, he spotted a slug and I started saying "ohmygodohmygodnowaynowaynoway!" in a high-pitched voice.

Sluggish Mushrooms


Now down to the details. The pattern is available for sale both on Ravelry and directly here if you're not on Ravelry (just click the "buy now" button above). I would like to sincerely thank my test knitters for all their help and feedback.

Sluggish Mushrooms

It's very nice as a designer when the process shifts from a solitary one to a social one. I loved their color choices and seeing the pattern come to life.

Sluggish Mushrooms

They were the ones that really encouraged me to publish the pattern before the holidays, and it's always nice to hear someone tell you that although the task ahead might be hard, that they will help you out and believe you can complete it.

Sluggish Mushrooms

Thanks Eujean2, TK, PinkViking, Firesarah, and everybody else at Purl Jam for everything. I couldn't have done it without you.


Janice said...

Awesome pattern! I'm so glad you took your time and went to the park. What an amazing photo op.

Happy I can point people to your pattern now.

And no-one ever thought mine looked like jelly-fish.

Tracey said...

congratulations! it's gorgeous. and so is your new banner!

Lakin said...

these are drop-dead gorgeous, Jess! and the pictures are super-fine, really capturing the essence of those mittens (with a little help from a doubt a UCSC Slug).

Kerryellen said...

Jess these mittens are awesome! I came upon them on ravelry and didn't even realize they were yours. I'd love to knit them someday, though they look a bit out of my league right now :) I'm glad you have had time for some designing!