The Dragon Scrolls is the blog of White Dragon Designs, a knitting and craft website run by Ruth Hilton-Robinson. Please visit for knitting patterns, tuition, handmade gifts and more!

Sunday 6 July 2014

A visit from the Muse

It's been a while since I last posted but that's because I got hit by the lightning of inspiration and have spent the last couple of weeks knitting (shock horror - actual knitting!)

I found it to be an interesting demonstration of the process of design - one idea led to another, led to another, led to another...a lot of crafters will recognise this and it's where truly inspirational designs come from. Which sounds much better than describing it as it actually is - a crafting attention span measured in milliseconds causing the creative part of your brain to leap on new ideas yelling "OOH SHINY," and eventually boshing something together out of the mishmash of different projects and techniques which is actually rather amazing. At which point you look at it and go, "How did this nugget of creative awesomeness spring forth from the hyperactive loon which is my brain?" That is why 'creative' people and professional artists are often protrayed as mercurial, whimsical and ephemeral - they live in that process all the time, flitting from inspiration to the next, spinning a cocoon of ideas from which will eventually emerge a beautiful piece of art like this:

which is possibly my favourite painting ever and the reason for my deep and abiding love of autumn shades.

Anyway, it happened like this. I was working on my coasters, and trying out new and different designs for them. Whilst looking at modular knitting techniques, I came across this pattern, had a bit of an OOHSHINY moment and started experimenting with to see if it could be made to work in the coasters. It couldn't - even if you leave off the garter ridges the decreases make the fabric too thick to allow the back of the coaster to clip in - but I was enjoying it so much I just kept adding bits. Part of this was that I could envision a knitting world in which seams and sewing up became almost non-existent...

After a little while, I started to think, "Hey, wait a minute...I could knit this into a cube by joining pieces onto two edges at once! Awesome!" So I had a rectangular shape by then, which I bent in half and added some small squares picked up along two edges of the fold. I was fiddling about with the fabric, trying to work out what order I'd need to add pieces in to form the cube, when I folded it entirely by accident so the ends looked like this:

and WHIZZ! BANG! I had a purse. So I joined it together, hand-stitched a lining from some coordinating fabric, dug out a sew-in purse clasp I got ages ago on the front of a magazine (I don't like the glue in ones, I don't trust them somehow) which by a miracle of good fortune was exactly the right size, then decided that I needed to disguise the holes on the frame and decided to add some beads. It ended up looking like this:

However, it didn't get there straight away; after I'd sewn the lining, while I was pushing it into place, I had the purse upside down and was looking at the bottom of it which all of a sudden sort of resembled a dragon's head due to the combination of shapes. THWAP! Another idea, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.

The purse was temporarily put aside. I started knitting, working the same combination of shapes initially but then further refining, tweaking and shaping until lo and behold, I had a 3D dragon's head. I've been working on the rest of it ever since. Once the whole thing is complete I'll write up the pattern and do a post about the steps I went through when designing it with some pictures but for now I'm keeping it under wraps as I'm not 100% convinced yet!

But there you have it - from coasters to a dragon via a purse, which I finished the other day when I was having a bit of a mental block on the dragon design. As I was working on it I was trying to think of a name and while stitching on the last few beads one came to me.

'Serendipity' means happy accident or good fortune; the entire process by which this purse came about was precisely that. The accident of folding which produced the shape, the fact that I'd managed to knit it to the exact size of the one purse frame that I had entirely by accident, then afterwards when it inspired my dragon design, which is an idea I've been toying with for a while - designing a dragon, that is - but have been unable to settle on an idea; in true slightly obsessive design snob style I wanted something different, something special, if this was to be the dragon design of White Dragon Designs. And here it was, leaping at me out of this purse, which came from an idea to knit a cube, an idea itself born out of a technique I learned in order to make coasters (I still want to have a go at making a cube). 

So the purse is now the 'Serendipity Purse', with its own little backstory. This one will be mine to keep - I've already decided there are a few tweaks I will make next time. It might end up as a pattern but to be honest, if you have a look at the linked pattern above and use the diagrams I drew (in Paint - so I hope they are decipherable) you could probably make one yourself now. If you did have a go and want a diagram for the liner, let me know via the website or our facebook page and I'll whip up another little masterpiece and post it. 

Until then, as ever all comments and questions are more than welcome; happy knitting!

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