Atlas Collection: Behind the Scenes
Every artist, designer or musician has a process: their own individual way of getting from idea to finished project. It’s a beautiful, meandering thing, getting from Point A to Point B. As Jenny Lewis says, “There’s a little bit of magic; everybody has it.” Maybe you’ve never really thought about your process, but I guarantee you have one.
When it comes to my knitwear design process, I do a lot of sketching in ProCreate on my iPad. But there’s no replacement for real paper—sketchbooks and idea books. That’s where my exploration really starts. I love working in large, hard-bound sketchbooks which become catch-alls for anything and everything worth saving. I go back to them time after time, even years later. They’ve become endless little archives—collections of papers, drawings, scraps, patterns, fabrics and color.
When it’s time to collect ideas and put together a mood board for a knitting collection or design, I usually take some ideas from these sketchbooks and bounce back to the digital world to put photos together in Adobe Illustrator alongside my drawings. It’s where graphic design and art made by hand meet, and I love it.
There’s nothing more fun for me than turning a drawing into a hand-knit garment. Here you can see some of my process drawings for the MDK Atlas collection.
This collection was very graphic-inspired with modern color-blocking and contrasting, bold color combinations. Looking back at these drawings now, there are definitely more patterns I still want to knit and write.
The colors for Grid Hat and Cowl were inspired by a dress that I saw Kay wearing at Shakerag last summer. It turns out Ann has this dress too— go figure! I loved the colors in the stripes and when I saw color swatches for Atlas in Truffle, Peat, Leek, Seaglass, and Mallard, I knew I had to make something out of these blues, teals and greens.
A striped sweater was my first idea, and I might still write up a pattern. I ended up designing a Grid/Atlas-inspired colorwork chart for hat and cowl set with the colors from ‘the dress’ and I couldn’t help but explore other color combinations as well. This design definitely works with just two colors, too!
The Mabel cardigan was inspired by Mabel (Selena Gomez) from Only Murders in the Building. I really liked her smart sweater + skirt outfits, and thought I’d whip up a cardigan that might be Mabel-worthy. It’s also classic and very wearable for the rest of us, but might be fun to wear while solving a mystery. (Or reading about one.)
Truffle was my mysterious color of choice for this cardigan and I ended up knitting most of Mabel while watching the series. I heard there will be a Season 2 … which might be an opportunity for another sweater design.
There may be a Atlas colorwork yoke sweater in the works right now—a potential Rhinebeck sweater that I’ll share soon. The colorwork chart includes elements of all things Rhinebeck: coffee cups, pan flutes, apple cider doughnuts and autumn leaves, inspired by my trip there last fall. MDK Atlas has all the colorways to make it happen, and it’s the perfect yarn for colorwork.