I recently completed Cascade, a baby cardigan, for a friend due this month.
What looks like a sweet, simple leaf design is actually a complex feat of engineering. The designer is Raya Budrevich of Blissful Knits & Dyeworks, known for her stunning color combinations as well as her fun and festive baby patterns.
As I was knitting the first leaf of Cascade, I couldn’t picture how it’d all come together. I blindly followed the pattern and was amazed with the results. Raya not only envisioned this beautiful baby sweater, but she knit it from scratch, then translated it into easy-to-follow instructions in a number of sizes.
Just to give you an idea of the complexity of the design, it takes 12 rows of pattern to make each leaf on the placket, and those are done simultaneously with the raglan increases, setting stitches aside for the sleeves and other typical sweater tasks.
Sometimes we read a story or a book that makes us wonder, “How did the author pull THAT off?” That’s sort of how I felt while knitting Raya’s pattern. Astonished and a little envious of her ability to construct something so elegant.
Here’s your assignment. Pick a favorite story, novel or memoir, preferably something you’ve read recently so it’s fresh in your mind. List the elements that amazed or surprised you on a piece of paper, leaving room beside each. Perhaps you loved the voice or the way the author used language. Or maybe you admired how several point-of-view characters were juggled. Just jot down your thoughts.
Now think about how the text works, its behind-the-scenes construction. Deconstruct it the way a knitter studies a pattern. How did the author accomplish the what you admire? For instance, if you listed the author’s use of language, how did the word choice, rhythm and voice enrich or reflect the content of the story?
Finally, study your list and see how can you incorporate one or two of those elements in your work-in-progress.