Thanks for coming back for the second installment of my interview with Inner Wild! If you didn’t catch the first part, click here.
I’m a knitter and just finished my first pair of fingerless mittens. Your fingerless mittens are, however, the most beautiful and unique that I’ve ever seen. I assume you create your own patterns? Without divulging any trade secrets, can you talk a little bit about this process?
I love that you said that, how gorgeous of you! Well done you for making yourself something lovely.
Yes,everything in my Inner Wild store is my own original design and to my own patterns. I’ve knitted clothes and toys for friends, family and myself my whole life so I am experienced enough now that I just automatically freeform and work out a pattern as I knit – or often I draw a picture of what it is I want to make so I can reconcile what’s in my mind with how it would work technically.
I create by intuition when knitting. I know roughly how many stitches I need to cast on based on the ply (thickness) of the yarn, needle size (I do play with that however, using unrecommended tension and so on) and type of garment in whatever size.
As I knit I either refer to a ‘pattern’ I’ve made up previously and scribbled on a piece of paper (I have a folder full of these ‘patterns’) or if it’s a completely new yarn or design, I write the ‘pattern’ down using a form of counting lines like those you see in movies on prison walls(!) for number of rows as I knit with little drawings and phrases like ‘cast off purlwise WS” so I can theoretically make the same item again.
This sounds great except that often when I attempt to make the exact same warmers or jacket or whatever, I will find I don’t understand my own pattern – “C4B” – did I mean cable back 4 of 8 stitches or 2 stitches of a 4 stitch cable? – or I misinterpret a phrase or I’ve not written down something I thought obvious at the time like “4mm needles, double 4ply yarn”.
All of this renders the whole pattern writing a flawed affair but it gives me a guide. It is tricky however you keep track of what you’re doing when you are creating, it interfere with the process of inspiration to have to write everything down.
I have come to terms with the fact that everything I make will always be one-of-a-kind, because I am completely incapable of the consistency or whatever it is that allows people to make exactly the same thing over again. And that works because everything from Inner Wild is an individual piece for an individual.
However, I love pattern books and my mother’s pattern collection, including vintage Arran and Lopi pattern books and Women’s Weekly knitting magazines from the 1960′s is one of my most cherished possessions. I also have patterns from the 1930′s for things like baby’s “pram sets” which are printed matt silver and are adorable!
I do like working to a formal pattern but I am incapable of folllowing them – for example, at the moment I’m knitting a poncho for a friend’s baby. I’m using a modern pattern but don’t think they have it wide enough for a baby so I have used the number of stitches for a 5 year old size with the length given for a 3-6 month old. Also, instead of plain garter stitch I’m doing a 6 rows garter, 4 rows stocking stitch so even with this simple one I find it difficult to keep to a pattern. Who knows how it will turn out?
I usually think about what I am in the mood to make but remain undecided – I’m Libran, we always keep our options open – then I check my heaving yarn stash. Something jumps out at me. I check how much of it I have which dictates what it will be. Then I muse about what texture I want it to be or if I am going to mix it with other yarns and I am I in the mood to knit cable or a fancy lace stitch, what will the edging be? I love this process of potentiality and inspiration.
Finding one’s unique expression of creativity can be a challenge in a world that seems full of endless ideas. I am so inspired by people who take something that seems ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary (like your work). Can you share your ideas about how to tap into one’s creativity and find a unique way to express oneself?
Extraordinary is one of my favorite words so thank you for saying that.
I talk a lot about creativity on my Inner Wild Therapy blog. How to tap into one’s creativity? I would say you must first be yourself.
For any kind of sense of satisfaction and contentment, you need to be the beautiful individual you are – and feel confident about how much the rest of us want what you uniquely create for us.
You must know that every single thing you do is creative, even if it’s destructive, you’re still creating something new in this moment. Just like there’s no-one else exactly like you, no-one else can create exactly what you can create in the way you do.
When you’re making goods to sell on Etsy, you can easily get very insecure about your skills and and controlling about your process and that’s when things start to fall apart on you – you’re not allowing the spirit of creativity space to come in.
You can find yourself wanting to make things you think LOTS people will want to buy but not only are you coming from a place of fear and insecurity, you have a lot of competition for those kind of general items – like Walmart!
You need to work with your own creativity, surrender to the things that please YOU to find your niche, and in turn you will connect with like-minded people and that is sheer joy for everyone.
For example, why try to be a perfectionist with exact angles and not a thread in sight if you are not naturally that way inclined? Why knit a perfect super chunky cowl just because you can and it looks like lots of people like them?
If you don’t really WANT to make a superchunky cowl, don’t! If it’s not in your nature to be a perfectionist with your loose ends, don’t flagellate yourself trying to be one – as I did! It only recently dawned on me that if I love ragged edges and deconstructed garments, a few other people might too.
But it is very challenging to bring your authentic self to the creative process – especially if you’re inviting the whole world to check it out as you are on Etsy. It’s the same as when I’m writing my novel; I catch myself covering up my voice when I am speaking a raw truth, I have to strip away the persona I’m hiding behind and re-write.
It’s human nature to be nervous when you’re naked and vulnerable. And yet that is where the creative fulfilment is for us all.
Also, I find the more I open myself up to what might occur while I am creating, the more pleasing what I make turns out to be. This is especially the case with what first appear as mistakes – embrace them as absolute gifts that move you into a space of other possibilities.
I always enjoy the ideas mistakes bring me. To let your creativity flow, you must also honor your intuition. Often your intuition is forced to subvert your brain via the art of ‘mistakes’.
I have a great recent example of this. I made two pairs of Fall Leaves Warmers for friends and then made a third to put in my shop. I don’t know if i dropped a needle size or didn’t cast on enough stitches (see point 4!) but they turned out narrower than the previous ones.
Mistake? Lo and behold, I receive a convo from a lady telling me she loves my Fall Leaves Warmers but is worried they won’t fit because she has very small hands! Yes, they fitted her *perfectly*.
Trust in the process, and especially in your errors and wanderings, weird irrational thoughts, because in my experience when you do, whatever you’re creating always turns out more perfect in stranger ways than you could ever imagine. And isn’t that just exhilarating for your inner wild?
Many thanks to Flora. I continue to be inspired by her words and her designs, as a store owner, knitter and fellow creator!
Photos used with permission. Click here to see more from Inner Wild.