Winging Your knitting
It's been almost a year now since I've been unable to use the website Ravelry. Those hours spent looking at patterns and projects and procrastinating, in general, are now spent just making it up as I go along and it's surprisingly quite freeing. These days I immerse myself in stitch pattern dictionaries by Barbara Walker, Nicky Epstein and Vogue Knitting.
Freeform knitting is the name for knitting without a pattern. It isn't even about designing a pattern; it's knitting and seeing what happens, playing with colour, yarn, texture and stitches. I'm also feeling more confident as a knitter. All of those techniques that I've been using over the years and mindlessly applying when following a pattern have awakened, and I'm much more aware of what I'm knitting and why I'm using this particular stitch.
Freestyle knitting encourages a playful approach to the craft, similar to how I dye yarn. I'm not a technical dyer, hence the huge amount of non-repeatable colourways I'm known for! Mistakes are triumphs. Nothing is broken. Rules are broken and remade. Finally, I feel enthusiastic about knitting again.
Freeform knitting, and crochet, are not new concepts. Designer Kaffe Fassett is famously known for breaking the rules in his use of colour and the idea of scrumples are big in the crochet world. These are small samples of layered stitches that can be built up, sewn together and made into something practical or a piece of art.
Modified Exposure Top
Designed by Julie Knits in Paris for Tits Out Collective, 2018.
My favourite project from 2020 is this multicolour sleeveless sweater. A cone of black merino wool from Colourmart was held double or triple with other yarns randomly selected. At one point I introduced short rows which became the front of the sweater. I couldn't tell you how many stitches I cast on, what yarns were used or how much, or where the shaping comes in - the idea is that I just did what came naturally and in the end was a sweater that I love to wear. The black yarn ties together all the colours so they blend and the shape was kept simple.
If freeform knitting doesn't quite float your boat, modifying existing patterns is also great fun. The beauty of handmade clothes is that you can choose how you want them to look.
There's a reason why we don't put together colour kits for popular patterns - why make a shawl that looks like everyone else's? This green sweater is Exposure Top by Julie Knits in Paris. I've modified it so that the midriff panel is a deep ribbed fabric instead of stockinette and added a long double-zip that goes from the front to the back of the V-neck. That way I can conceal and reveal depending on my mood or occasion.
I tend to find it is when something is limited that my creativity soars. In this case, I cant access Ravelry, and my downloaded library is a nightmare of non-standardised filenames that make no sense.
My knitting journey with patterns is coming to an end but I'm replacing it with a way that makes more sense for me.