"Intended for the chic urban dweller, these sophisticated garments and accessories will set the wearer apart from the crowd with clever details, sharp styling, and great fit. Perfect for all ages and figures, we are proud to present a truly year-round selection of designs that will be wardrobe staples for knitters everywhere."
When it comes to my contributions to the collection, emphasis is on the "wardrobe staples" part of the above description.
The above design (Trace) is a fitted shell, with waist shaping, self-finishing armholes (no need to pick up stitches!) and an elegant boat neckline. It also features a rib pattern that, as far as I know, I made up*. It's a simple but tailored piece intended to be a much used wardrobe basic.
Reflection (below) is similar to Trace, in that it features waist shaping for a smooth fit, uses the same "made up" rib pattern, and also has the potential to be a "go-to" sweater. If I had the time, I would make both of these designs in several colors for myself. If I had the time...
Simple designs hold a lot of appeal to me, both as a designer and when it comes to deciding what to wear each morning. Wearing simple clothes is easy, but designing them can be a challenge.
The first issue is that, without a lot of color and texture to draw focus, or an unusual silhouette to capture the viewer, the garment had better fit. And the details, such as borders, hems, neck finishes, closures, etc, need to be just right. There is no room for fudging when you're going for simple.
What can be frustrating (as the designer of a well thought out, well constructed, simple garment) is that, until someone actually makes and wears the garment, all that work can go completely unnoticed. To the casual reader of the knitting book/magazine/website, its easy to breeze by the simple shell or pullover with a "nothing to see here" response. But it could be that that shell or pullover took the designer an extravagant amount of time to get just right.
Reflection (above) is a perfect example of this. Just a simple top-down raglan, yes? But no! Getting that wide scoop neckline just so? I finally got it right on the 4th try... Four times casting on and knitting all the way to the completion of the neckline, tweaking it a little bit each time.
And the rib pattern? Not only did hours (and hours) go into creating the perfect rib for the design, it then took days (and days) to find the perfect bind off for the rib. As the sweater is worked top down, all the ribs (the hem, the sleeves, and the neckline) are bound off. All of the most common bind off techniques utterly failed me--they were too tight, too loose, or they just plain looked ugly. Back Stitch bind off saved the day, but it took a looong time to arrive at that solution.
In short, Reflection's innocent simplicity belies the extreme designer grief it caused me.
The other challenge, one I have discussed with many designers, is that feeling that "I haven't designed enough". With all the elaborate and complex designs out there, it can be difficult to feel ok about something that's "just a pullover" even if it is the best dang pullover ever. That one is easier to deal with though--just design your great pullover and be proud of your work!
Dusk (above) is a drop shoulder pullover, with a wide, slightly lower-than-average neckline, and texture patterning across the shoulders.
More views of all of these garments (and the other projects from "Shibui Heichi") can be found on the Shibui blog, or on ravelry.
*I say this with full awareness that other knitters have, undoubtedly, come up with the same rib pattern. I just mean that I found the pattern in my head, as opposed to in a stitch dictionary etc.