We had a lovely visit to Andrea Uravitch's studio and home on Friday. So exciting to see what she has done with fiber and paper and inspiration. The whole creative process is just fascinating. After lunch, I had some time on my hands in Old Town Alexandria, and I stopped in at a Blüprint Chocolates.
The chocolates were lovely with interesting and complex combinations of flavors, each a tiny masterpiece. The owner, who is also the chocolatier, was around, and I had the opportunity to chat with her about the creative process of making chocolates.
Turns out knitting and chocolate making have a lot in common! For starters, she said she had 15 different kinds of chocolate downstairs. Wait? What? Who knew there was so much variety! I immediately thought of the dozens of different types of worsted weight yarn we have on the shelves and how each is different because of its fiber composition, its spin, its ply, and so forth.
We talked about the creative process of making a flavor for the first time -- how she decides what to put with what and so forth. She said that she used an eyedropper to mix the tiniest amount of ingredients with one or more of the different chocolates to see how they go together and whether the flavor is balanced, etc. "You wouldn't just mix up a huge batch of something without testing it out on a small scale," she said. See -- even chocolatiers swatch!
I asked her what she was looking for when she made those tiny mixes and how she was able to tell when it was right. She said, it's all in the training. Her background is in food science, and she's worked at some powerhouse firms, including Wrigley's, home of Juicy Fruit Gum. She said that in a food science program, they help you train your palate for all the flavors. It's a skill that develops by doing it again and again. The ability to detect sweetness is learned by tasting various levels of sugar in water until you can detect it at very low levels. It reminded me of how we learn to look at fabric we're knitting and decide if the gauge is right for a particular project, or how we discern which colors work well together for a given design.
It seems that whatever your medium, the creative process involves the same level of exercise, effort, and repetition to get stronger and better. Wherever you are in your knitting journey, doing it more and focusing on what you are seeing and what you are doing will improve your skill, your confidence, and your pleasure in the process.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table - you are always welcome here.