Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Design Process: Eclipse Top

On July 11, 1991, there was a solar eclipse visible from California. I was nearly 11, had just started 6th grade (weird year-round school system) and was obsessed with astronomy. My parents had given me a chunk of welder's glass to take to school so I could look directly at the eclipse...but, my teacher deemed it unsafe and took it away, so I had to settle for the little viewer we made by poking a hole in a piece of paper, which wasn't nearly as cool.

Then, six months later, in January of 1992, I was thrilled to learn that there was going to be another solar eclipse (annular). Finally, my dreams of viewing a solar eclipse directly, not just as a little speck on the ground or on a piece of paper, would come true. My family, along with my most science-y friend, piled into the car and drove over to the Lawrence Hall of Science, where they had scientists and telescopes all set up for some amazing eclipse watching. But, Bay Area winter weather struck, and we were clouded out.

I was grandly disappointed.  The next visible eclipse would be who-knows-when, and the next time it happened, would I even be interested in eclipses and astronomy anymore??  (And, apparently, my about-to-cry expression and excellent choice of faux-leopard attire were so compelling that I landed in two Bay Area newspapers that weekend!)

The answer was that I would get to witness an eclipse one day and, twenty years later, I would still be as awed and excited as if it had happened in 1991. And the annular eclipse of last May is what ultimately inspired my second project from Knitscene's Summer 2013 issue, the Eclipse Top.

Photo © Knitscene/Harper Point

While the annular eclipse of May 2012 occurred, Neill and I set up our own little "lab" and witnessed the eclipse from our roof deck and window. I have several dorky photos from that day, but I'll stick to what ultimately influenced the Eclipse Top design. At some point during our eclipse viewing, Neill and I realized that the sunlight shining through our partially-drawn blinds was creating a very, very cool pattern -- vertical strips of little eclipses that would otherwise be circles of light. Daniel just happened to run through one of these strips in a way that the pattern went straight down his onesie. I had Neill position him just right to take another photo (which he heartily protested...):

And then I had Neill pose so the eclipses were going down his shirt.

I thought this would make such a cool shirt design and, at first, thought about silkscreening it onto tshirts and such (which I still kind of want to do!).  But then I thought about how I could interpret it into something knitted.

The Eclipse Lace pattern featured in the top is based on Feather and Fan and uses just one repeat to create the little half moon shapes, with the eyelets representing sunlight. As you can see, the knitted eclipses face up, not down like in the pattern of light and shadow on Neill's and Daniel's shirts. I liked how the top eclipse pulled in the cast-on edge of the I thought it'd be perfect placed at the top of a v-shaped neckline.

I also designed the top to have a little pleat under the eclipse lace, which isn't so visible in Knitscene's pattern photos, but is still there. The top is worked from the top down in one piece with a raglan yoke. The swatch and final piece were both done on larger-than-usual needles in Tosh Merino Light, one of my favorites, and I'm in love with the Pop Rocks colorway used in the final.

If you'd like to find out more about the Eclipse Top, you can check it out on Ravelry here or on the Knitscene webpage here.


Julie said...

that is such a cool backstory! I love your new designs in Knitscene, they are gorgeous and modern and look super wearable.

by Annie Claire said...

I love learning about designer's pattern processes - yours have the best stories!

Teresa said...

I love reading about your inspiration! This is a very cool post and a very cool design. Great details!