There Was a Really Good Reason

Last month I said no more VK Lives for a couple of months. Well, I lied. But there was a really good reason – a class I have been looking at for a while that has consistently sold out finally had a few slots left. So I had to jump on it!

The class was Josh Bennett’s Design Workshop: Building Your Design Identity. As you might imagine, it was all about how to decide what your identifying characteristic as a designer is. We also talked about how to take an inspiration and translate it to a collection of patterns. It is a 2 part class, with the first day being mostly lecture and a homework assignment, then the second day being mostly show and tell of our assignments.

The teacher has a career in fashion design for places like Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger as well as designing for handknitters, so he had a lot of experiences to talk about in designing in different situations. It was very interesting, and I feel like I learned a lot! The homework assignment was to design a collection (sketching only) and do a short (couple minutes) presentation on the inspiration, notable features of your collection, who your customer is, and why people should chose your designs over similar ones. We were not to get into construction details, ideas we considered but abandoned, or get overly wordy about it.

Because it was a lot of work and I am reasonably happy with it, here’s my collection.

My inspiration is Maritime or Nautical – however you want to word it.

Color palette, based on yarns I found in my stash that kind of fit the designs

The first two pieces are an aran pullover and skirt. The sweater features a unique cabled anchor (adapted from an Alice Starmore motif), rope cables, and a unique chain cable that I have been working on refining for a while

The skirt has just the chain cables, and they are staggered. What makes these different from all the other aran sweaters out there is the different motifs and the skirt, which is a little unusual. Also, I would knit examples in lighter, brighter colors than arans are usually shown in, and cooler yarn, such as cotton.

The second piece is a sleeveless shell in an allover lace wave pattern.

And the last two pieces are a short sleeve tee and a cardigan with gansey patterns of wave, anchor, chain and rope motifs, but in just knit/purl texture and not cables. I intended the patterning to be on the entire sweaters, not asymmetrical like shown here. The teacher told us not to waste time filling in the whole garment, just doing an indicator of patterning. Although just looking at it, asymmetrical could possibly work!

What makes these pieces different from all the many, many other gansey patterns out there is that 1)they are a tee and a cardigan, where ganseys are mostly long sleeve pullovers, and 2) these would be made with lighter, cooler yarn, such as a linen/cotton blend or similar. The reason for that is ganseys are designed to be really warm, but most of us are not working on fishing boats on the North Sea, but rather in offices, and regular ganseys are just too darn hot to be worn in that context.

The pieces could be worn together, just by making them using yarns that coordinate well. Even though the motifs are in different knitting techniques, they are consistent across the pieces. Now that the class is over and I’m looking at them, I’m actually getting more ideas to add in.

The teacher had some good comments and some things he said he really liked about it – though of course he was really positive about everyone work. Another thing that was great about the class was that everyone’s ideas and work were really different, for the most part. There were a few collections that were kind of alike, but mostly the design aesthetics were all over the place! So that was interesting to see. I would highly recommend this class for anyone who is interested in designing, whether commercially or just for themselves.

So now really. No more VK Lives for a couple months!

16 thoughts on “There Was a Really Good Reason

    1. Thank you! I’m mostly happy with it too 🙂 There is always something else to tweak a little to make it just right! I definitely will take more classes, but maybe after taking a break for a month or two.


  1. That sounds like a thought-provoking class. I don’t think in collections; I mostly one-off an idea, or use the same technique for several pieces. And I love designing accessories! I know I can usually make them pay back for the tech editing expense. (O, the practical reality of money…) I’m not known for garments, so the payback there would be harder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was very thought provoking! It does seem like it’s really tough to make a living designing for hand-knitting. It kind of seems like it has to be a side gig for most people. Or at the least, combined with teaching and some other things. I love your designs!


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