Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A point of process

On a recent trip to my LYS, A Good Yarn, in Brookline Village, after a helpful chat about lace knitting, the owner asked if I might like to hold a session with her customers about how I approach my sweater design.  I'm still pondering that invitation (struggling with a bit of unfortunate stage fright), but it got me thinking about my process since I so enjoy it, and how I got here.

25+ years in my previous administrative job has certainly honed my process skills – creating efficient routines that feed each other, then documenting for reference – ei-yi-yi, pretty dry I know, but applying these to my design work has proved invaluable, and in a geeky kind of way, is something I find kind of exciting. Here's an overview of how it goes.

After deciding on my design – something yummy I (or daughter Juliet) can't wait to wear – the first thing I do is draw schematics showing dimensions of all 7 sizes I offer (XS, S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X).  This requires nailing down measurement nuances for each.  I work out the texture and create a substantial swatch to determine both the stitch/row gauge and approximate yardage per square inch for selected yarn – lately ordered from the Quince & Co. line.  I plug these numbers into my huge home-grown spreadsheet filled with lots of formulas that calculate stitch and row counts per size.  There's lots of tweaking here to normalize shaping, but once done I begin to write my pattern.  I knit from my writing, making all sorts of notes along the way about best practice and all the while proving out my pattern to ensure it's correct.  Once the piece is done Juliet and I go on location and I take a bunch of photographs of her wearing it.  I reformat the pattern to accommodate the resulting fabulous images and I post to the world.  Hooray!

The process has undergone continual evolution since I started my design work for publication about 2 years ago.  This morning I received an email from a potential knitter of Helen asking about yardage.  She couldn't tell from ravelry.com if she had enough yarn in her stash for the project in her size. Hmmm... another process point to remedy?  I think so.

And I'll certainly consider this when I finally launch Margareta, the 2-color, lacy, short-sleeve tee I blogged about in my Colors – Oy post on June 8th.  Named for my dad's aunt, she'll be introduced formally soon – hopefully next week.  Oh, I can't wait!  Meanwhile, here's a little peek along with my new pal, Douglas. 

Don't worry, the little devil's being supervised.

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