Sunday, January 27, 2008

Design Exercise

One of my favorite design exercises is to find an interesting item or an interesting yarn and try to design something around it. I thought it might be fun to blog through the process.

As an example, I’m going to design a purse around this beautiful piece of coral.

I found this recently at La Bead Oh, my local bead shop. I spent the afternoon just sort of mulling over the shape and color of the coral, trying to imagine how it could be used. I worked on a couple of simple sketches to experiment with what I would need to do to make it look like what I see in my head.

Speaking about sketching designs, don’t worry if you’re at the stick man stage. I’m not too far off that. I like to keep unlined index cards around to sketch on. They’re easy to carry around so I don’t lose an idea if I’m out and about and they’re pretty inexpensive and easy to just file away ideas. Sometimes ideas like to bake a bit before they’re ready to come to life. If you’re like me, don’t count on remembering them!

Here are a couple of things I was thinking about:

I could see the coral being used as a closure of some sort, either as the hook or as a bar for a closure to fit over. After thinking about it more, I came up with this, using the coral as a button with a square "buttonhole."

The next thing I have to consider is what I’m going to use the knit the purse. A couple of thoughts I’ve had were to use some natural colored linen yarn I’ve got on hand. That might contrast nicely with color of the coral. But it would need a nice shape to keep it from looking dull.

The coral is very reminiscent of Asian design. Perhaps I could work that into the design, a Chinese pattern of some sort. Nothing over the top because I’m not so into that style but there could definitely be something interesting there.

I’ve got a couple of different silks to spin, one in hankie form and the other in roving but I’m not sure if the colors would go. Definitely something to investigate. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? It’s spinning up as a lace weight in single ply which could work in silk, although it may be better to Navajo ply it for a more substantial yarn. Because it’s variegated, Navajo plying will help keep the color progression. The only thing is that if I do that, I’m going to have to get spinning. Hummmm….

I did also think about getting a hank of that recovered silk yarn but I’m afraid that will be too heavy for what I want to do. (I looked at the yarn shop and it’s definitely too heavy and the colors didn’t go.) I thought I could also look at getting a couple of different colors of linen or hemp and doing a sort of fair isle pattern using some Chinese character charts. Here are the colors I found that I thought would go well:

You can’t see all the colors so well but it’s a sort of medium celery green and red.

This is all part of the process of exploration and I’ll be keeping my eyes open over the next little while and I’ll do some swatching with what I’ve got to see what I’m happy with.

I did have a little idea about the shape. Since I think I’m going to use the coral piece as a bar which the closure will wrap around, I don’t think I want the purse to be too large. I’m afraid if I go too large, I’ll lose the impact of the coral. But it’s also got a bit of weight so it will need to have some structure behind it.

All these are things to consider. As I swatch and make decisions, I’ll post so you can see what I’ve been trying and what works.

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