White Dragon Designs
White Dragon Designs
“What is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons?” ― Terry Pratchett
“What is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons?” ― Terry Pratchett
06.07.2014
Ruth Hilton-Robinson
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It's been a while since I last posted but that's because I got hit by the lightning of inspiration and have spent the last couple of weeks knitting (shock horror - actual knitting!) I found it to be an interesting demonstration of the process of design - one idea led to another, led to another, led to another...a lot of crafters will recognise this and it's where truly inspirational designs come from. Which sounds much better than describing it as it actually is - a crafting attention span measured in milliseconds causing the creative part of your brain to leap on new ideas yelling "OOH SHINY," and eventually boshing something together out of the mishmash of different projects and techniques which is actually rather amazing. At which point you look at it and go, "How did this nugget of creative awesomeness spring forth from the hyperactive loon which is my brain?" That is why 'creative' people and professional artists are often protrayed as mercurial, whimsical and ephemeral - they live in that process all the time, flitting from inspiration to the next, spinning a cocoon of ideas from which will eventually emerge a beautiful piece of art like this: which is possibly my favourite painting ever and the reason for my deep and abiding love of autumn shades. Anyway, it happened like this. I was working on my coasters, and trying out new and different designs for them. Whilst looking at modular knitting techniques, I came across this pattern, had a bit of an OOHSHINY moment and started experimenting with to see if it could be made to work in the coasters. It couldn't - even if you leave off the garter ridges the decreases make the fabric too thick to allow the back of the coaster to clip in - but I was enjoying it so much I just kept adding bits. Part of this was that I could envision a knitting world in which seams and sewing up became almost non-existent... After a little while, I started to think, "Hey, wait a minute...I could knit this into a cube by joining pieces onto two edges at once! Awesome!" So I had a rectangular shape by then, which I bent in half and added some small squares picked up along two edges of the fold. I was fiddling about with the fabric, trying to work out what order I'd need to add pieces in to form the cube, when I folded it entirely by accident so the ends looked like this: and WHIZZ! BANG! I had a purse. So I joined it together, hand-stitched a lining from some coordinating fabric, dug out a sew-in purse clasp I got ages ago on the front of a magazine (I don't like the glue in ones, I don't trust them somehow) which by a miracle of good fortune was exactly the right size, then decided that I needed to disguise the holes on the frame and decided to add some beads. It ended up looking like this: However, it didn't get there straight away; after I'd sewn the lining, while I was pushing it into place, I had the purse upside down and was looking at the bottom of it which all of a sudden sort of resembled a dragon's head due to the combination of shapes. THWAP! Another idea, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. The purse was temporarily put aside. I started knitting, working the same combination of shapes initially but then further refining, tweaking and shaping until lo and behold, I had a 3D dragon's head. I've been working on the rest of it ever since. Once the whole thing is complete I'll write up the pattern and do a post about the steps I went through when designing it with some pictures but for now I'm keeping it under wraps as I'm not 100% convinced yet! But there you have it - from coasters to a dragon via a purse, which I finished the other day when I was having a bit of a mental block on the dragon design. As I was working on it I was trying to think of a name and while stitching on the last few beads one came to me. 'Serendipity' means happy accident or good fortune; the entire process by which this purse came about was precisely that. The accident of folding which produced the shape, the fact that I'd managed to knit it to the exact size of the one purse frame that I had entirely by accident, then afterwards when it inspired my dragon design, which is an idea I've been toying with for a while - designing a dragon, that is - but have been unable to settle on an idea; in true slightly obsessive design snob style I wanted something different, something special, if this was to be the dragon design of White Dragon Designs. And here it was, leaping at me out of this purse, which came from an idea to knit a cube, an idea itself born out of a technique I learned in order to make coasters (I still want to have a go at making a cube).  So the purse is now the 'Serendipity Purse', with its own little backstory. This one will be mine to keep - I've already decided there are a few tweaks I will make next time. It might end up as a pattern but to be honest, if you have a look at the linked pattern above and use the diagrams I drew (in Paint - so I hope they are decipherable) you could probably make one yourself now. If you did have a go and want a diagram for the liner, let me know via the website or our facebook page and I'll whip up another little masterpiece and post it.  Until then, as ever all comments and questions are more than welcome; happy knitting!
22.06.2014
Ruth Hilton-Robinson
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Like many knitters with access to the internet (Who am I kidding? Like all knitters...) I occasionally accidentally buy something on eBay. Yeah...occasionally: And that's just the tiniest fraction... Most of the time, these 'accidental' purchases turn out to be wonderful and I rip the wrapping off, spend a bit of time stroking, sniffing and cooing at the yarn within, then give it pride of place in The Stash until I decide what to do with it. However, from time to time, like most people, I've made a purchase which has turned out not to be quite what you expected, or not suitable for the purpose you had in mind for it, or on the odd occasion makes you rear back in horror screaming "ARRGHwhatisitwhatisitwhatisitkillitkillitKILLITWITHFIRE!" (Not had many of those, thank goodness.) A little while ago, whilst designing 'Rosslyn' I realised I had virtually no 4 ply yarn in The Stash. Given that I was getting heavily into delicate lace and textural stitches on small needles, this was something of an issue. So I turned to eBay and found someone selling a whole load of 4 ply yarn in various lovely shades, wool rich and very cheap because they were cone-ends of varying weight, unbranded.  Reader, I bought them. When they arrived it became clear that whilst they were undoubtedly quality yarn, they were of varying weights (many were single strands designed to be knitted together to give different weights) and were not the soft 'superwash' type yarn you need for things like mitts which will be next to the skin. So they weren't really suitable for what I wanted to do. And I had, oh, about three tonnes of it. I put it all on a shelf, muttering vaguely about Fair Isle (pahahahaha!) and possibly selling it on but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to part with it. Every now and again I'd think of something to do with it, take some of it down and stroke it but decide it wasn't quite right. So it just sat there making me feel guilty every time I saw it. But lo! An inspiration came to me. I was doing some tidying up and I came across some acrylic coasters I'd bought ages ago with the intention of putting some little cross-stitch designs in them as gifts but never got round to it. It suddenly dawned on me that fine ply yarn, such as I had in regrettable abundance, when knitted in stocking stitch would not be much thicker than a cross-stitch design...I dug out my Knitter's Bible, having a vague memory of instructions for knitted square and circular medallions, selected the smallest dpns I can be bothered with (about 2.75mm - I need wine to cope with anything smaller) and went and chose some balls of the hitherto unusable fine ply in shades which complemented each other and got to work, resulting in these: I was quite chuffed with them. They needed to be blocked but my awesome friend took the fear out of that by introducing me to spray-on starch and I discovered a new level of obsessiveness relating to the pinning out of objects. I took them along to the two craft fairs I went to that weekend and although no one bought them they were universally admired, so I decided to make some more. There are many, many colour combinations to be discovered, in particular a whole load of lovely natural and autumnal shades into which I plan to knit some strands of metallic gold embroidery thread left over from finished cross-stitch kits. I'm planning to sell them singly and in sets of four and six - they don't take long to do and I've found suppliers of the blanks on eBay (Where else? Srsly, is there anything you can't buy on eBay?). Hopefully they'll be available on the website as well as at craft fairs and they may be something that could be provided as a kit...the possibilities are almost endless! And whilst looking for suppliers of the acrylic blanks, I found some sets of four glass coasters in a little holder, which raises the possibility of a 'posh' version. Until then, I have ideas for colour-themed sets - I'm working on a set I plan to call 'Mountain and Moorland' in some lovely natural, green, purple and pink shades which I'll make as a set of squares and a set of rounds. Here's some pictures of the ones I've made so far, as ever any comments or suggestions are welcome - if you have any ideas for colour combinations you'd like to see, just let me know!
22.06.2014
Ruth Hilton-Robinson
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Well, I've promised and promised and promised - and I have, at last, started actually writing up patterns! Available to purchase now! 'Wise Owls' is now available on the website to buy and download from our shop, as promised, one day early (!), with payment via PayPal. I eventually found a shop app that allows paid-for downloads, so no faffing about setting up an external shop and linking, although I am planning to make the pattern available on Ravelry too. It's priced at £2.50 for the download, you'll receive an email with a download link after payment is made so you can save the pattern to your computer. Hopefully I'll get others written up and available in the next week or two. As ever, any comments or questions are more than welcome - I sincerely hope you enjoy knitting the pattern! However, if the idea of knitting it is too much, this is one of the designs you can order on commission - please see our Brochure for details. And in the pipeline are plans to offer this pattern in kit form, so keep your eyes peeled!

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"As the dragon charged it released huge clouds of hissing steam through its nostrils. It was almost as if a gigantic teapot had gone mad."

-Heywood Broun, The Fifty-First Dragon

White Dragon Designs is owned and operated by Ruth Hilton-Robinson.

Please visit the pattern pages and shop for patterns from my original designs to buy and download for free, as well as other handmade creations.

Here you will find links to other talented crafters in the handmade community in the UK and elsewhere, please visit their sites to support the handmade movement!

For knitting tuition please visit the Tuition page where you can find course information and dates. Workshop dates and locations can be found on the Blog along with events and fairs where you can come along for workshops or just to say hello!

For general enquiries and bookings, please contact White Dragon Designs - we promise not to ask you any riddles before we speak to you!

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White Dragon Designs

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

-Anon.

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