Making with Notes

Notes and notebooks are an invaluable part of everything I do. By recording observations, ideas, triumphs, and failures, I’ve created an environment that I can review and learn from. This process enables me to find new patterns (in all senses of that word) and draw different connections to create something new. The process of writing helps me slow down and think about the challenges I’m trying to solve. 

I prefer to scribble on and refer to paper. Yes, electronic options exist – I use them too. However, when I’m trying to solve a problem – be it a design that isn’t working out how I thought, or a bigger idea I need to contemplate — I’ll pick up a notebook and a pen. That’s what works best for me. Something else may be a better fit for you. [Consistency in notes is a topic for other posts, such as this one.]

Writing everything down, pasting ideas, scribbling thoughts and doodling are all part of the process. Nothing comes straight through in its finished format, at least not for me. I will revise and edit until it’s the best I can make it – and my notes along the way help that process. My scribbles are a draft. It’s rare that I share the full details of a page with anyone except maybe the cat. They’re an essential step for me. 

My archives supply a source of both information and inspiration. I still find it much easier to review my paper notebooks than any digital ones I’ve created. 

This week, I’m working to finish a new design that combines simple elements – basic stitches both for regular and Tunisian Crochet. It’s been a struggle to decide on one part of the design. I’ve tried different stitch permutations, and nothing felt quite right.

The other day I pulled three notebooks off the shelf and let them open (somewhat) randomly. They cover a multi-year time period, 2013, 2011, and 2017. There’s no real reason to why I pulled them down other than those were the first three I grabbed. 

a wooden desk strewn with open notebooks and a pink swatch laying on one with a green pen.

A page from June 2013 showed my notes and sketches for an asymmetrical cable top – one that was far in advance of my design ability a decade ago. (I should revisit that!) The movement of my cable sketch made me think of the stitch used in my Autumn Transitions Cowl, one that receives compliments every time I wear it. 

Another open page was a spread from October 2011 when I affixed the actual swatch into the pages (I now photocopy them if I really need the swatch with the notes – it makes for a less bulky notebook). What made me pause here was not the swatch, but the photocopied chart next to it. I pasted that in landscape and when viewed sideways it makes me think differently about the panel it portrays. 

The third book opened to sketches for the still not yet released Transposon design as sketched in 2017. Then as now, random stripes (or ribbing) is what captured my attention and provided me the spark that will work for this project. 

My scribbles as I work out what I may do (still subject to change) read: 

lined rhodia notebook on a wooden desk with a green fountain pen. the left page has notes about a crochet design.
click to open full size
Tunisian + simple crochet -> light drape stripe.
Change to hdc herringbone or dc in sc section?
simple texture? 
alt sc, tc, sc, sc, with a fib[onacci] seq[uence]! 
swatch LB Cotton Ease K/6.5mm

Well, I mostly swatched. Dot loves this discontinued yarn and stole the ball off my desk as I was taking photos. I’ll need to wait for her to nap so I can complete the swatch and finish the design.

Tuxedo Cat on a messy desk with a ball of pink yarn in her mouth.

See also:

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