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The Notebook

I have used, abused and junked a forest's worth of notebooks in the last few years. It is so helpful to keep a record of doodles and scratchings and experiments - if only for the usefulness of having a record of what doesn't work. Then, too, for a mind as depressingly disorganized as mine, having one book that houses everything - pattern notes, swatches, long-division scratch paper, grocery lists, business cards, aborted queries and ones to follow up on, invitations, agendas, receipts for filing, pop-up reminders to shower and eat - is easier than anything that requires maintenance and attention beyond grabbing a paperclip for that Very Important Phone Number-scribbled deposit slip.

I've tried lots of different systems before - bound books, spirals, the beautiful (and pricey) Circa system - but none has worked so well for me as the book I use now: 8.5"x11" squared paper (I favor a grid with 10 squares to the inch) cut in half, three-hole punched and slapped between two sheets of cardboard, with everything held together by 1.5" book clips. It expands to hold all my swatches (held with pronged metal bar fasteners) and extra bits and bobbles, allows for easy removal and replacement of loose sheets, and cost about $2.50 to put together. Perfect.

I've been thinking a lot lately about clever knits, wittily constructed, elegant in the mathematical sense of the word. Knits where adornment and structure exist in spite of each other, or at least without much thought for each other - cables or color just slapped onto a sweater without rhyme or reason - don't feel particularly satisfying to me just now; while the color and texture alone in, say, a Schweitzer or a Starmore are beautiful enough by themselves, a different kind of knitting appeals to me right now. I'm a huge admirer of Annie Modesitt, Norah Gaughan, Teva Durham, Kate Gilbert - women who really explore the ways stitches behave, capitalize on the way they twist or gather or use yarn, think up clean ways to make a detail happen, let the construction be its own ornament. Cleverness for its own sake isn't very clever at all, of course - but when beautiful, functional stuff comes out of it, it feels deeply, viscerally satiating to me. Twisted stitches that shape the waist, lace sleeves that mimic Italian cutwork, a giant ribbed cable that creates a bust cup, seamstress details of hem and vent bred with knitterly saddle shoulders and raglan seams - these are the things bouncing around in my brain.


Eunny your designs are gorgeous!

Thanks for allowing us a peek into your notebooks! I have a bunch of sketchbooks from when I was in art school, and I love how they're capsules of our lives.

You must love office supply departments/stores as much as I do! It always fascinates me how people design, how their space/time continuum maneuvers through the process/product. Thank you for sharing your current pathway.

I will be one of the first to pre-order your book, when it's available on Amazon. You are so immensely talented, I so hope you are going in that direction!

And while you are insipired to create countless beautifull and living masterpieces, you inspire us and make us pine for more of your patterns. Your attention to detail reminds me of the creation of a gothic cathedral, lines flow to create shape and illumination as well as structure to house and protect all the community

I started off using laboratory notebooks to flush out business ideas and inspirations for work. I loved the gridded paper, and now that's all I can use.

I started knitting last fall, and of course, I have to keep everything organized in notebooks, too. so I keep my sketches in smaller miquelrius pads that I got in bulk (at a discount, of course) at the art supply store. It does the job, but I have to keep my swatches in a separate container. I think I'll have to switch over to a ring binder so that I can keep the swatches together with the designs.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Thanks for sharing a bit about your design process. I am fascinated by how talented people come up with these amazing ideas and turn them into actual garments!

I have several notebooks at home, all terribly neglected. It's one of those things I keep saying I should do, I will do, but in the end never gets done. One day soon, I promise.

I am a FIEND for graph paper. I use the moleskine notebooks, in the pocketsize, so that I ALWAYS have a place to jot thoughts that occur to me, whether they are knitting thoughts or writerly thoughts or whatever. Index tabs are also my friend.

THe pronged metal bar fasteners are a great idea for holding swatches. Good one!

Can I just say that your blog is AWESOME? I could LIVE in here, man. I would continue to gush all over the place, but I'd rather do it on my podcast.

It's funny when I was taking colour theory classes in college our teacher actually suggested that type of notebook for all of our school projects. Her theory was that with all the other money we were spending why waste money on expensive notebooks that limited our creative space. Thanks for sharing a peek into your book.

Your notebooks are inspiring - I really enjoy following your fearless approach to new project and techniques. I especially appreciate your willingness to look for recommendations and alternative approaches to solving your (knitting) problems and your ability to let us know when you've made a mistake. I hope to do the same soon!

I hope you're planning to publish the pink cable sweater pattern, it's beautiful!

I'm wildly envious of your beautiful sketches. That's one thing I'd really love to be able to do.

Thanks for letting us take a peek inside your creative process! Your sketches are beautiful. It looks like you've made quite a bit of progress on the waist shaping of the Bonnie sweater, too.

Hi Eunny, just out of curiosity, how long have you been knitting?

And who taught you to knit and design like that?

You rock! I think you are a genius and I love your notebook!

I thoroughly enjoy reading your ideas on design and construction. It challenges me to be more thoughtful and adventurous when it comes to designing for myself and my family. I sincerely hope that someday these elegant ideas of yours find their way into a book of designs.
And the notebook thing is a great idea, too!

Hooray for clever knits!

Your Bonnie sweater, by the way, reminds me a little bit of Stella's Blouse from Interweave Spring 04. In fact, I was thinking of making Stella until I saw Bonnie. We'll see if I can be patient enough to wait (just hoping you'll be selling the pattern eventually) and game for the small gauge.

I'm curious how you grade your patterns. Do you work off your own proportions, or are there "standard" measurements you use?

Anyway, I enjoy seeing how you work. It's inspiring. Thanks for opening up your notebooks.

This is why I read your blog, even though I'm still too much of a knitting newb to knit your patterns :) The sweater is looking gorgeous.

Thanks for letting in on your "background" work, your notebook - it's wonderful to know how simple things works so well for fabulous designers like you. Me? I've got many, many post-its waiting to be taped to binder (that's overflowing) pages...

And to echo Janet's comment - I too am eagerly waiting for a book, maybe a pattern in IK too.

What a grand idea! I am such a notebook gal, and this would really work.

I am loving your new designs and salivating at the thought of the finished object. As for the previous post about today's fashions, or lack thereof, I completely agree with you. There is a lot to be said about style that never goes out of style, and that is the kind of fashion you are creating. Your knits are worth a thousand words...

I have just discovered your site and I wanted to say that I think your designs are gorgeous and classic and that you are very talented. I also wanted to ask, where do you find the time?

I'm so glad you gave us a glimpse of your notebook! I'm just dipping my toes into designing my own sweaters and would love any references or tips you might recommend. It's refreshing to see such well thought out and beautiful designs! Keep 'em coming!

I can not WAIT until the pattern for the pink sweater is done. I think the sketch is AMAZING and what you have done so far is beautiful.

BTW, thanks for the braiding link. I took some notes for when my hair gets long again.

Thank you so much for sharing your design process... and those wonderful sketches!

I LOVE your pink sweater --- beautiful stitches --- lots of knitting but I am sure it's going to be rewarding!

Thanks also for sharing your beautiful Print O'The Wave Stole. I just finished and love it!

The pink sweater is looking beautiful. It was neat to see a peek inside how you organize your thoughts - it's funny how different ways work for different people!

I love this post. Thanks for allowing us a tiny peek into your brain. Can't wait to see that finished sweater. Loving it!

I love your creative thought process(es), and you notebook is ingenious. thanks for opening a window into your designing style.

I've been trying to figure out a system, because staying organized is a challenge. I like the fact that you've developed your own system, and that it's not all neat around the edges - ends and corners sticking out and well-worn pages are inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

I like your organizer! It looks like something even I could use. :-)

I think I have a crush on the pink sweater in the bottom picture.

Thanks Eunny for sharing your notebook. I've just bought a few different styles of binders and am trying to figure out a system. Swatches on the back of the couch need to stop.

Unquestionably creative and talented! Thanks for the insight into your designing flow.

ooooh very nice. i like your system. hahaha. it's very very cool....and detailed. ;)

Thank you for sharing your notebook-I love seeing your sketches.

I so so so agree with you about the use of beautiful stitches to create the form of the garment. When I find a stitch I like I try to figure out what it can do to shape a piece with it and if I have a cut in mind I look for a stitch which will create the appropriate shape. I wish I had photos of my sweater for Plymouth to show you (which just won 3rd place in the TNNA runway show - I have to brag) that I feel captures just that sort of thing. It was quite an engineering adventure, but that always makes it that much more satisfying when the thing works out. I understand your satisfaction with your Bonnie blouse.

I love getting views into others' ways of creativity like this - thanks for sharing!

Ooo the pink sweater is gorgeous and I love the pics in later posts. I'd definitely buy this pattern!

It's not often that someone is enterprising, creative and organised all at once. It's really impressive.

I really like your note book. I have one of my own. I actually have two. One is to keep track of patterns that I am working on. The Second is to keep track of things that I want to work on next.

I am awe struck by the organizational processes you use. As an ADD poster child who's methods always decay into piles. yes stacks on paper in piles. I love your book, as my solution to dealing with paper is that it needs to have holes punched in it, and immediately put in a binder. (otherwise scary things happen)

I hope you don't mind if I try this system out for myself. Composition books are my current so called system. but tape and glue stick annoy my at times, so the metal binder prongs are perfect. Hold items in place much better than my self made folder pockets.

Keep up the fantasic designs and use of the gifts given you. You are an inspiration for the rest of us. :)


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