We're big fans of German designer Melanie Berg here at Knit Purl. We've featured her patterns in numerous kits, and are always excited when she comes out with a new pattern—her designs are so beautiful. So we were thrilled to be able to offer a series of workshops with her in early February. She was able to take some time out of her busy schedule to share some of her design and inspiration process with us, before coming in to teach in person.
Hello, dear readers of the Knit Purl blog! Melanie Berg here. We thought with my upcoming workshops at Knit Purl, it would be nice to introduce myself and to tell you a little about my work and inspiration.
I'm a knitwear designer from Bonn, Germany, and I live together with my husband and three little kids in a house that's well filled with yarn, knitting needles, and all kinds of crafty books.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is where I draw my inspiration from, so let me tell you a bit about this.
I love starting to think about a new project with a concrete yarn in mind already. There's nothing better than having the yarn at hand, being able to look at it, to touch and smell it, and to enjoy its colors in crisp sunlight. What I often do is put some skeins of yarn into a nice, bright bowl and place it at some prominent spot in our living room—that way, I walk past it several times a day, giving this new project a lot of time to grow into a concrete idea. And some projects need time to develop, you know?
Time is an important factor anyway. Sometimes I need a little pressure, like an approaching deadline, to kick me off on a project, but sometimes it's just wonderful to have the opportunity to freely decide about the perfect point of time for casting on. Will it be today, or in a year? The good thing about yarn is it can't run away!
Do you have a paper notebook you use for writing down everything you want to keep in mind? I have one for everything knitting related! Sometimes, when I have some spare moments, I get my notebook (or rather let's say, one of them, as there are many!) out and start sketching down some ideas. Sometimes I'll just doodle away! And sometimes I don't come up with anything useful—that happens, too!
What's definitely helpful is to have a box of art supplies at hand to help you color your ideas. It might be watercolors, pencils or markers—anything that you find easy to work with and that you like playing around with. And don't be afraid of drawing poorly or “making mistakes”—there are no mistakes in painting! If you're open to allow for the “creative mess” to happen, that's when inspiration is at its best.
So, I really like to re-visit these notebooks from time to time, to skim through and look at old ideas with a fresh mind. Sometimes I discover ideas I had discarded earlier.
And I love looking at fashion! I find it fascinating to see what's hot in Haute Couture, or what people wear on the street. This is a never-ending source of elation for me and it gets my mind working. What else could you do with a certain textured fabric? The colors on this coat go so well together—wouldn't they work for a shawl, too? And look at this fit —I wonder if I could transform this into a hand-knit garment....
So, to bring this to a close and to motivate you to discover and dive into your own ideas: As in any art, there is no right and no wrong in knitting. Anything is allowed, and it's wonderful to have the opportunity to play with yarn and to experiment with it. Don't be afraid to go and try things out. Make a lot of swatches and get a feeling for how a certain yarn behaves!
After all, the very worst thing that can possibly happen is that you don't like the result. And in this case, you can always start over. :)
Thank you so much, Melanie! We can't wait to meet you in person next month!
All images © Melanie Berg