I am always a huge fan of design that is created out of curiosity, of looking at materials, shapes, construction and letting them come together in a new way that may not have ever been investigated should those exact materials have not been combined.
So much of designing for a magazine is looking at a mood board, a loose collection of ideas, and color, meant to inspire designs. This is a great way to get a wide range of designers into a similar track and totally makes sense for a publication that wants a theme. Designing for a yarn company differs from this as you are primarily looking at the yarn and what kind of pattern works best for that yarn, or the clientele that the company is addressing.
But Independent design (for me anyways) is something different. I am thinking about the customer I want to buy the pattern, the yarn I have on hand at that moment, and the stitch dictionary I am thumbing through. It seems like a more direct hands on approach which is totally centered in my own little world of ideas. There is no second guessing or trying to interpret someone else's ideas, there is just sitting with the yarn and allowing my creativity to flow into one idea or the next. Assessing each aspect of the yarn quality, stitch type and overall construction to hit a harmonious note I respond to before carrying on with the knitting.
The Maude Heath set was born out of this type of design process, I had the yarn, I found a stitch pattern I really liked and wanted to create something beautiful that looked more complicated than it was. Since the stitch pattern was essentially a lozenge or diamond shape I knew that with a little manipulation I could easily make it work on the bias; increasing the drape in the fabric and making the stitch pattern even more organic as it will flows across the piece
The first chart I worked up became the basis for the Maude Heath Wrap, because it is worked on the bias,increasing stitches at the center spine and decreases stitches at each side every right side row the cast on is concave and the bind off is convex. I paired this with a cabled edging to mimic the cables within the lace of the piece and also to have a scalloped edge. The wrap worked up really quickly and when I got to 60 inches long it seemed more than large enough so I bound off...but I still had more yarn.
I was entranced by the shaping the cast on and bound off edges were subjected to with the bias increases and decreases. It looked like a great shape to sit closer up around the neck and perhaps that chevron shape would fit the face and ears really well. The Cowl was directly inspired by taking the shape of the wrap, working it from the top down in the round with extra ribbing at the top. The entire piece is finished with a knit on edging of the cables same as the wrap.
Both of these designs are worked in a worsted weight (almost Aran weight) yarn, I had testers work the wrap out of wool, cotton, and blends... all looked great. The stitch patterns for both of these designs are charted and written out and once you get the hang of it the pattern has a nice flow.