Design wrapped up in a bow

The Skirt Project Chronicles, part 1

A few weeks ago, Emma had her 21st birthday.  I thought long and hard about what to get her.  I wanted it to be special.  I wanted it to be personal.  One night, the idea came to me, fully formed: For her birthday, I would give her a design collaboration.

Let’s step back for some background.  Emma and I have been thinking about knitting and design for a long time.  We spend hours pouring over patterns, discussing fashion trends, techniques, styling, yarn, texture, colour.  Emma would frequently say “Mom, you should write a knitting blog.”  I would procrastinate.  In the meantime, I began to modify patterns more and more, concentrating on fit, learning new techniques.  Emma took a course in fashion drawing at Central St Martins and we thought about collaborating on a design project.  I would procrastinate some more; life was busy, I had too little time to knit.

In late 2011, we started this blog.  I did the knitting, and most of the writing, but Emma was very active behind the scenes.  She set the blog up, did all of the styling, photography, layout; furthermore she was the person I bounced ideas off.  Sometimes, we would have a design idea and Emma would sketch it, we would discuss it and tear it apart on every level – looking at every aspect of the design and implementation.  Despite my best intentions, however, these designs never made it to my needles.

Then, Emma flew off to Canada for university.  She could no longer do the styling and layout and photos for the blog.  I had to figure it out on my own.  I thought about stopping the blog, but I found something about it intrinsically satisfying.  I kept it up, I learned how to do things, Doug and Leah stepped up to help out.  Emma was busy at university, and I started business school (in addition to a full-time job) but this didn’t stop the long discussions of design and knitting.  Sometimes, Emma and I will spend hours on Skype, sitting thousands of miles apart, each of us online, sending links back and forth, discussing projects, patterns, yarn.

I have not had much time for knitting lately, but hoped that when my business school Stage 1 exams were done that I would be able to knit a project for each girl.  When Emma came home in May, just before her birthday, I asked her what she wanted me to knit for her this summer.  “Skirts,” she said. “all I want are more skirts.”  I began to think about skirt designs.

All of this history must have been bubbling away in the back of my mind, because one evening when I sat and thought “What will I give Emma for her 21st birthday?” – there it was:  The Skirt Project.  I would give Emma a design collaboration.  The idea was simple:  I would design a prototype skirt – a template.  It would be simple, short and snug.  We would then use the template as a blank canvas and design a set of skirts, each of them having the same shape and structure, using the same yarns, but going wild on colour and design.

Emma, needless to say, was all over it.  When I approached her with the idea, I was thinking we would create four skirts.  I suggested a few ideas for patterns, she took them and flew with them, adding more and more, bouncing them to me.  I bounced back.  Things got out of control.  A few nights ago, during our late-night Skype marathon, Emma told me that she has now conceptualized three distinct themes, with 4 skirts in each theme.  She sent me a sketch of one of them.  It blew my mind.  Seriously, this is going to be amazing.

Emma and I will chronicle the Skirt Project here on this blog.  You can watch it unfold, from knitting the template and getting the fit right, through the design project itself, with all of the sketches, knitting, discussions, tears (hopefully not many), smiles, photos, ideas, ups and downs.  We will do some collaborative writing as well as designing.  (Who knows, I might get Emma doing some collaborative knitting as well.  Emma, by the way, could be a fabulous knitter, her stitches are so neat and beautiful it is unbelievable and her instincts are perfect.  She suffers from startitis, however, and rarely finishes any of her projects.  That’s why this collaboration is so cool; it plays to both our strengths.)

I will continue, of course, with my normal (if slightly more infrequent) posting.  The posts in this design collaboration will be labelled and tagged The Skirt Project Chronicles.  I hope that you enjoy them.


11 thoughts on “Design wrapped up in a bow

  1. I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve been knitting for about 40yrs but never thought of knitting a skirt. Can’t wait to see what you both come up with. (Wish my daughter would knit!)

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