So I’ve been thinking about what exactly I want to do with the theoretical knitting idea (besides come up with something to talk about that does not involve how many stockinette stitches I have knit this week!). Mostly, I think I just want a place to capture ideas outside of my design notebook, and to make for more interesting writing that will keep me coming back to chat on the blog, even amidst all the craziness of fall.

Also, I find it really helpful to have a reason to think up new ideas. Design is one of those things that works best when the pump is primed, and if you wait too long in between it gets harder and harder to come up with things.  Ideas breed ideas, and before you know it you’re drowning in them. It’s a cruel cycle, really: you’re only coming up with thousands of designs when you already have too many projects and not enough time to do them. If you’re able to capture those ideas when they’re flowing, then they also manage to carry you through the dry spells when your creative powers are needed elsewhere. It’s no coincidence that I’m still knitting projects that I dreamed up in Germany, back in 2009. A tiny hint of a knitting idea can go a long way.

I spend some time curating photos for color inspiration in the same way; when I see something I love, I put it on Pinterest, and save it for a rainy day, or just a day when I have time to dye but no specific ache in my soul for a particular color. I am beginning to get quite a collection, and I can always find something to spark my interest, no matter what my mood. (This is my one and only use of Pinterest, lest I fall into yet another rabbit hole.)

A week or so ago, I was on a color-gathering spree, and came across this photo of an octopus:

I have looked around for proper attribution, but the best I can come up with is a tumblr link. I’d love to know where it came from, because I bet that photographer has a million other things I’d love to pin.

I was drawn to the picture first because of the colors, which are not altogether unlike these:

I am fascinated by the mix of orange and purple near the head, and those brilliant spots of white right at the hem.

That last bit got me thinking. The hem.

Wouldn’t his skirt make a beautiful shawl?

I’ve drawn inspiration from sea creatures before; they are masters of using simple design to create flowing, graceful structure. Nature has an excellent eye for proportion.

Now the question becomes how you would achieve such a thing in knitting. Those strong rib lines made by the octopus legs would work beautifully to space out the rapid increase and decrease sections needed to get the curved shaping. (On a related note, there’s an excellent discussion of how to make or avoid scallops in a knitted hem on the Rainey Sisters’ blog, where I have been lurking lately.)

But then, I think I’d want to knit the body of the shawl in stockinette, and knitting enough stitches in those long final rows to make that many scallops might just kill me. So what about short rows? That would let you keep that stunning contrast row right at the end, and would allow it to continue up into the body of the shawl the way those white dots follow the edge of each scallop right up into the body of the skirt. It would also break up the stitches into much shorter, more manageable rows.

Then I stopped and really looked at my sketch. Each one of those scallops is really just a half circle, stacked on top of the last:

What if you started at one end, knit a small semi-circular shawl, worked the contrast edging, and then picked up stitches and continued on with the next?

You’d work your way around the shawl, adding scallops as you went. No super long rows, and very simple knitting. You could do so many different things with the colors, too. Imagine this knit in a gradient yarn, or with two highly contrasting stripes to emphasize all those graceful curves.

Of course, this is the part where the practical side of me steps in and demands to know whether I would ever wear such a thing. This is one of those garments that falls into the questionable category for me, though I am rather smitten with the design. It’s a lot like the striped shawl sweater: a little bit of a stretch in the attention-grabbing department. (For the record, I love my finished striped shawl sweater, and wear it all the time.)

On the one hand, the shawl could be a beautiful, eye catching design. On the other hand, you might end up walking around looking like an octopus with a slightly shrunken head. You know – the usual fashion risk.

For now, the practicality likely doesn’t matter, given that this is theoretical knitting after all. Still, I think this is an idea that might be worth coming back to. It smacks of promise, and I do really like those curves.