I remember when Sandra Coney’s book Standing in the Sunshine was published in 1993.
An illustrated book, it celebrated the social history of New Zealand women in the 100 years following 1893. The significance of that date was of course New Zealand women won the right to vote.
At the time, I was a young mum of three growing children, juggling work and family and I remember the joy I felt as I immersed myself in a book celebrating NZ women as they came out of the shadows in domestic and public life.
The book still resonates with me.
It is almost a year since I began this blog and, in many ways, I too am now standing in the sunshine.
A year ago, I made a commitment to myself. I no longer wanted to spend my time editing book manuscripts. I craved some form of change in my life and I knew knitting and designing cardigans was going to be part of that change.
Knitting has always been an old friend. I love the way in which it calms me, slows me down and allows me to create something beautiful using nothing more than two sticks, some yarn and a mix of knit and purl stitches.
In the past year, I have totally embraced this craft by adding design to this mix.
Becoming a designer is taking what is still regarded in many circles a domestic craft and making it public. In effect, I, like all other designers are saying to the world, this is what I do, this is how I earn my living, this is my passion, this is what makes my life interesting, purposeful and, hopefully making a difference to knitters worldwide.
By aligning design and knitting to the public world, I am also saying to that world, knitting and design count.
This year has been for me a huge learning curve. I have loved the process of designing new patterns, swatching to see if they work and knitting the garment. While I have designed and knitted a few designs only one has been published so far – Rose’s scarf & hat.
Yet, I have surprised myself how far I have come. To give an example: My understanding of sizing a pattern has improved with leaps and bounds. Skyline Rose, a cardigan I designed and absolutely love, was not ready for publication as the sizing was slightly out of kilter. I could have published it as is but I didn’t. I used it as a learning tool and perhaps more importantly used my mistake to move towards the professional I wanted to be.
I re-swatched the back, a front and a sleeve of Skyline Rose to the right gauge and used this gauge to re-write the pattern.
Next month I shall be publishing Skyline Rose and my new design – at the moment it has no name, on Ravelry.
I am looking forward to 2019. New designs will be published, a book idea is circling in my head and this blog will focus on topics close to my heart: knitting history – not only of stitches, but the craft itself and how it relates to the lives of women past and present, the design and knitting process and growing my stitch library.
Finally, while knitting is very important to me, it is the designing that captures my imagination. I want to concentrate on design and, to do that, I need to bring on board, test knitters who can take my designs and patterns and turn them into a garment.
Yes, I am standing in the sunshine – it is such a nice place to stand.