The Thing About Ideas

A few weeks ago, when I finished up the pattern for my hat for Knitscene, I told myself that I wasn’t going to work on any submissions to publications for a while. I wanted to focus on my own patterns, which, ha, are my patterns regardless of who I design them for, but my reasoning was that I didn’t want to be constrained by someone else’s creativity. I wanted to embark rather than respond.

So I took the first step toward a thousand on my Aran sweater journey.

But I keep getting a notification from my online calendar [Mozilla’s Sunbird, which I love, but it looks like they’ve taken to calling it Lightning (sic)] that the deadline for submission for Knitscene’s Spring 2015 issue is coming up May 2nd. (And it’s actually a little before that because I have to USPS mail the swatch and proposal, and Knitscene isn’t clear about whether it needs to arrive by the due date or just wear the postmark.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll get to it.

I hadn’t intended to submit anything because a) as stated, I’m done with submissions for a while, and b) spring and summer (and most of fall and some of winter) in south Texas are hotter’n the devil’s barbeque grill (ha, I just made that up), which doesn’t inspire me. Typically, these warm-weather designs are either lace, which all looks the same to me; or knit at a small gauge, which is fun only if you’re machine knitting; or made from cotton, which kills my hands to knit. So, I knit and design cold-weather items in wool at a reasonable gauge year-round.

I could have dismissed the notification and never seen it again, but I kept snoozing it for one day, and another day, and one more day, and after about a week, after I still hadn’t dismissed it already, I figured I better do something about it.

One of the “stories” for this issue is drapey cables.

I like my hair, not my clothes, to look like this.

Not my favorite kind of cable, but at least it’s a cable, and at least Knitscene gave designers a more concrete directive than “going seamless” to work toward. It’s hard to succeed with something like that because it’s open to interpretation. I mean, a swatch is seamless, but a publication would report you to the knitting police for submitting such a non-design. Oh, wait….

I also looked at other spring issues of the magazine and saw that they allowed wool garments, so at the end of the day, I skipped finishing Ken Kesey’s earthly delight of a novel Sometimes a Great Notion, and let my bedstand light shine on a couple of stitch dictionaries. I found one I liked, drapey, but not too, then went to sleep.

I woke up with an idea starting to form, so I began swatching. I thought it would be a quick swatch, which is ridonculous and I need to stop thinking that anything having to do with designing is quick, because the cable kept talking to me, as cables do, telling me what it wanted to be, and it was something much richer and complex than I thought I had stuck my fork in.

I ripped and reknit four times, which isn’t all that much compared to other ideas that haven’t known what they wanted to be and we had to figure it out together. After six hours or so, the cable was happy and I was happy.

Knitscene wants only a swatch and a sketch with your proposal, which makes for a quick submission, but I don’t like submitting ideas. I’ve seen too many of them do a 180 to entirely trust them. Usually the new direction the idea takes is better, bionic even, which is one of the great things about any right-brain endeavor, but when a publication buys your idea, you pretty much have to produce what you said you would.

An ambigram, not a 180, but you get the idea.

I much prefer submitting something I’ve already knit up because by then, all the things that make you want to forget about designing knitwear and get a job at a truck stop little challenges that come up with a design have been handled, but because I snoozed that alarm so many times and because I’m more than a few steps into my Aran sweater design and because I’m a slow knitter and designer, I have to either submit an idea or not submit anything at all. And even though not submitting was the idea I started with, that too has done a 180.

That’s the thing about ideas.

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