Saturday, August 30, 2014

Prototypes: They are a must!

A long long time ago, in what seems like another dozen lifetimes ago, a woman taught her eldest daughter how to crochet, and a few years later how to read a pattern.  Then after about a decade and a half, that now grown daughter began to freehand her patterns.

Yeap, I was probably around 6-8 years old when my mom took those first steps of introducing me to the world of crochet.

It was simple things at first.  Afghans and hats. Yes, actually afghans are incredibly easy and when they get to a certain size, you can curl up underneath of your work during the cooler months of the year.  I really really like making afghans and shawls.

In the last couple of years, I've stepping outside of the pattern books.  When I moved home with my parents for a time again, I was still struggling with being able to find a big enough comfort zone to be able to work a "normal" job again.  *shudder*

I had already been crocheting constantly at that point as it was an incredibly good coping mechanism for what I was going through. One day I got froggy, and decided that I was going to make a crocheted coat.
I had a large amount of yarn as well that I was trying to get used up, but this prototype was an incredibly important step in my creative endeavors.  I proved to myself that I could design something when I put myself into it.

Now I learned several lesson from this particular prototype:

1. Measure, measure, measure!  Especially the armholes.  The sleeves were massive on this thing.  Way too big for a lean critter like myself.

2.  Always double check my sleeve placements.  The sleeves on this piece were almost two inches, too far back.

3.  The neck was too small almost.  From this coat to the next one I made, the front pieces were made more narrow as I worked my way to the shoulders.  This allowed for the hood to fit better, and gave the next piece a very nice sculpted look.  I really wish I had taken a picture of it, but it was a late order that year and it needed to go out.

4. As you can see from the front of this, the bottom was almost too narrow.  It really doesn't sit well anywhere.  This lead to me making the bottom part a couple inches wider than the person's hips and once above the hips, taking it in just a couple of stitches.

5.  On the next coat, I learned the lesson of "Don't be afraid of an extra wide edging."

This summer I've ended up with three coat orders, and will be documenting their progress and if any new lessons are added to the ones above.  Two sized mediums and one size small.  I did the small one first, because that's my size and I can get better pictures of these coats now.

Without having done this prototype, I wouldn't have ever even considered making coats, nor would I be anywhere near where I am currently in my skills and the things I can offer as a crafter.

I have a large amount of scrap yarn ("Gee really?") that I use to test stitch styles before committing them to a project.  Color test swatches have also entered my toolbox so that I can get the colors right before I start work.

This prototype coat, I did in what's called a Shell Stitch and in Double Crochet stitches.  As you can see, it looks good... but not great. I wasn't pleased at all with how it wanted to droop because of how loose the fabric had ended up being.  It was too inclined towards stretching and didn't mold to a body properly.   These days, I use the very simple Half-Double Crochet stitch.

It creates an amazing look, gives the work a stiffer fabric and molds better.  Instead of drooping... it drapes. Almost all of my work that I present now via the shop, was preceded by a prototype. In some cases, several prototypes.

If you've not considered using prototypes in your work before (whatever your work might be), I would highly recommend trying the process out.  I do prototypes with even my cooking these days.  =)

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