Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Creativity, Practicality, and Socks.

My DIL is a fiber artist. So is my friend Robyn. I am not an artist.

It's not that I am not creative, (I am) but I see my creativity more as an engineering activity, than as art.

I want and need know how things are constructed, and then when I understand the structural elements, I want to re-engineer them. The result is creativity, but not art. I often value function- over beauty —not that I don't aim for beauty as well —a well engineering product is beautiful! But frequently, beauty is not my primary (or even secondary!) goal.

Last night, I had the pleasure of looking through Cat Bordhi's new book Personal Footprints.
I find her ideas interesting —and I will likely try her process out. I like how she engineered the design.

I doubt I will adopt it as my general style of knitting socks —since I like experimenting with different heels and toes, and directions —I would become bored making the same style over and over again.

Maybe, if I had to knit socks for a growing family, and needed to churn them out, like a machine, (oh, wait, I do that now!) I would be would adapt a basic style and use it all the time. But I don't need to churn out socks.. I knit socks for pleasure, and my part of the pleasure for me, is change!

I have been for some time now knitting a lot of socks. And at this point, I know, I will continue knitting socks for some months. Not exclusively, perhaps, but most definitely frequently.

I am caught in a creative loop, and I don't want to end it –well not yet.

I find yarn, knit a sock, and even if I am happy with it, I realize, it could have been better.
So I make another pair, and resolve issue one, but this often creates a less than perfect solution. So I do it again. Each pair I knit, opens up avenues for other designs—both in the artistic sense, and in the architectural sense.

I like color, and plan a Roy G Biv sock.. and I have been thinking about how I am going to handle the stripes.
I know, I tend to like socks a certain height, and with a certain gauge (I know my gauge in Kroy yarn) –so I know that I will have about 80 or so rows to work with in the leg. (80 rounds after the cuff.)

If I want to space the colors out, and have a neutral color between them, and I have 8 colors.. then my stripes need to be spaced out to fit (reasonably coherently) in those 80 rows.

I could make narrow stripes, and have 2 repeats of a pattern, or wider ones, and a single pattern/color way repeat. I could make chevrons (and this will make the stripes seem wider) or I could have the colors bleed from one shade to another, with minimal grey/neutral –just a cuff, a heel, a toe! I need to think, how am I going to handle the foot? The same stripes? Or the instep in color, and the sole in the grey? (and this then creates engineering issues!)

But thinking about these 8 colors and how they will be striped (horizontally!) lead me to think about the idea of using 8 yarns in a single sock. And gave me an idea for using up some of my sock yarn scraps—and the idea of Crazy Eights was born. It is still fermenting... but it will definitely be a more vertical stripe—and will definitely have a single color separating the other stripes.. (that is a solid unifying element between the vertical elements.)

Each idea I have begets another idea for a sock—another spin off of the Roy G Biv socks will be a pair of gradient color socks, and all this color work will tire my eyes, and some simpler mono chromatic, or lower contrast socks will be required to rest them.. Plainer colors, will require fancier stitch work! That is another element of engineering design.

Finally, there is the underlying goal of making socks that match the clothing I own --Crazy Eights will be worn on black days—black skirt, black T, black sneakers, and wild socks!

Long ago, before I started keeping an organized record on Ravelry, and before I started blogging (part of the reason for blogging was to keep a written and photographic record) I started (very late in my knitting life) a photo album on Photobucket. (this one predates my newer photo album on Face book.)

The Sock album has 18 pages, and each page has 8 images. (144 images!) this doesn't quite represent 12 dozen pairs of socks, since there are detail documented as well as whole pairs. And it doesn't included my most recent socks either!

Start at the last page, and work forward—see how my sock knitting has evolved—the early socks were often very pretty, but not always as functional. Then came a period of very functional, but not very pretty. Now, I am better at integrating form, function and artistry. (the last element is subjective, but I like how my socks look!)

The FaceBook album offer a record of socks of my most recent collection of experiments, but there is a good deal of overlap from the Photobucket collection.

I knit my first pair of socks when I was a teen (a lovely pair of argyles—that looked pretty, but were unwearable!) and I expect I will knit socks for many more years to come—Certainly they will be an obsession for the foreseeable future!

1 comment:

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

I'm more of an engineer than an artist, and that works for me. Fun to compare how we come to things; I look at Leigh Radford's work; she's an artist!