Today we welcome Kate Scalzo to the blog to share her process and thoughts on creating Harlow
Y'all hate to swatch, yes? I used to hate swatching. When my boys got to a certain age and I was able to spend a little more time designing, I learned that about 80% of my knitting time would be spent swatching, experimenting, blocking, and measuring. I've learned to really really LOVE swatching now as an uncomplicated, low pressure way to do what I enjoy in the first place. Knit.
So, what does a serial swatcher get really excited about? New stitch dictionaries! Hitomi Shida's "Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible" arrived in my mailbox and I knew I had to dive in ASAP. As they say, though, "work smarter, not harder," so I wanted to swatch with a design in mind. Twist Collective's call for submissions was the right framework through which to peer at these beautiful new knit fabrics. The mood board suggested "[c]arefree, warm-weather knits that are timeless and beautiful," and invoked the terms "fearless," "accomplished," and "effortless." LOVE. I'm in.
I sat down at a cafe down the street from my sons' preschool and got out my sketchpad. Thinking of the fearless, accomplished women out there, I was remembering the story of Minna Hall and Harriet Hemenway, the founders of the National Audubon Society. They were disturbed by the decimation of birds at the hands of the feather trade and used their social capital to gather support for an (unfashionable) anti-feather movement, which culminated in the formation of the National Audubon Society and the passage of the Migratory Bird Act in 1913.
As I thought of these inspiring women, I thumbed the pages of Shida's book. It is a wealth of inspiration, providing countless geometric and feathery stitch patterns. I settled on a selection of arrow-like and chevron style patterns and worked up a long swatch in Juniper Moon's Zooey. I like to pin my swatches to my mannequin just to see the stitch pattern in a different way and they ended up looking beautiful as a set! I submitted my knitted tank, "Hall," in honor of Minna, as well as a companion piece called "Hemenway." Hall was accepted by Twist Collective and renamed "Harlow" (equally beautiful!).
Little did I know what a task I had signed for! The shaping on the top and the ever-changing gauges and large range of sizes required a series of mental gymnastics I had not yet attempted. These are the BEST kinds of projects, though. There's nothing like a "how the heck do I do this?" moment to demonstrate your own fearless (well....maybe not entirely without fear) accomplishments. With the help of TC's editorial staff, Harlow turned into a sleek, precise, sampler-style top for the spring and summer months. I hope you find your power in Harlow, too!