One of the nicest things about the internet is that I get to talk to other designers on a daily basis. There are little pockets of creativity all over the place where we talk about industry things, vent, use the hive-mind to nurture ideas as well as support and encourage each other.
Earlier this week, during a conversation on the design process, a seed of an idea was planted. Like any good gardeners, we watered the seed, made sure it had good soil, and sunlight, and food, and it soon grew into a vibrant, robust thing of beauty.
The little seed nibblet was a rather innocuous comment about designing and publishing an item in 24 hours. We quickly realized that 24 just wasn’t feasible, no matter how good our intentions were, so we changed it to 48 hours.
The goal was to design, knit/crochet/create an item, write, chart, tech edit, photograph, layout and publish said design within 48 hours. As a sub-goal, we were asked to think about our design process, and discuss just what lessons we learned from the whole experience.
Really, how hard could it be?
I’m a fast knitter, and tech editor. I have access to Adobe Illustrator, so charting and layout wouldn’t be a problem. I had enough lead time on my current work project that I could fit this challenge into my schedule without causing too much of a flap, and really, my curiosity and sense of adventure were niggling me to take part.
I started by creating a timeline, and writing down my thoughts as I went along.
Tuesday Feb 17th, 2015.
Challenge accepted at 5pm, committed to publishing by Thursday, Feb 19th before 5pm
I’m feeling a little smug about the whole thing. It’s going to be a cake walk! And yet, even as I write this, I wonder when Karma is going to kick me in the arse and laugh?
Time to choose the type of project. It’s been a miserable winter, and I’m desperate for some sunshine, so I think about things that will bring a little brightness into the world. I decide to make some knitted easter eggs, with stripes, zig-zags and maybe polkadots on them. I have more tiny balls of sock yarn than it’s decent to admit to, so it seemed like a good idea. I charted a few things, worked out the shaping, dove into my stash and gleefully gathered a large assortment of scraps.
Sitting down to knit, I got half way through my first egg, when the doubts set in. Not everyone celebrates Easter. Not everyone wants to knit in the round, and – most importantly – I couldn’t find my stuffing.
40 minutes tearing apart my office to find polyester fluff, and coming up empty handed just made me cranky so I gave up for the night. After all, I still have a day and a half! I’m still not 100% serious about this project, still think it’s an easy challenge and still have no doubts about the whole process.
Wednesday Feb 18th, 2015
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, and ready to devote the whole day to this challenge. Sometime during the night, I’ve decided a pretty dishcloth will be the perfect challenge object for the following reasons:
1. I love knitting dishcloths
2. I have lots of bright cotton on hand
3. It’s a small, easy to knit project
4. I have time to knit 2 or 3 within the time constraints – more than one counts as a test-knit? Right?
I started by searching Ravelry and my stitch dictionaries for a pattern that I liked that hasn’t already been used. Charted and swatched three likely suspects. Two of the patterns I liked very much, the third, I just didn’t enjoy knitting, so set that one aside.
I’ve worked out the math for sizing, charted correctly, and written up the patterns for both swatches. I’m still not sure which one I’ll use, but I’m pretty sure that once I cast on, it’ll figure itself out.
Of course, I didn’t like the first one I knitted – 3 pattern repeats and an hour and a half wasted. I set that one aside and start on the next.
Meanwhile, a time-sensitive tech edit issue just popped up for a project I’m working on, so I spend 3 hours sorting it out, and taking my brain from cotton dishcloths to fine lace.
Back to the dishcloth. One down, two to go. For some reason, I keep thinking that I need to knit three of these things for photographic symmetry or some such nonsense. Is it flower arranging where there has to be an odd number? Whatever the source, I know that I need to make three, and I also know that speed knitting cotton is not a feel-good experience. My wrists and shoulders ache, and I’m ever so slightly cranky about the whole thing.
It dawned on me that tomorrow, I have a crazy amount of work to do. If I’m lucky, Mother Nature will smile at me and let me get a shot or two in natural light before it starts raining. I’m not a whizz with a camera, and usually pay someone to do all my photography.
I’ve done a deal with a friend and we’re tech editing each other’s work. I generally pay between $30 and $40 per hour for TE, and around $50 per piece for photography, so cutting costs on this release is a bit of a relief. I’ll also have to do the following:
Write all these notes up – and, seriously, when did I become so verbose?
Edit pics and run them through PicMonkey for sizing and collating
Do final layout of the pattern
Publish to Ravelry
Publish this blog entry
Talk about it on Instagram (which I’m still getting used to)
Talk about it on FB, and in my Rav group
Bitch and complain about it all to my Designer’s group
Work through my usual panic over publishing anything
Allow three extra hours for the gremlins – that means I should have everything ready to go by 2pm Thursday.
I’ve settled down in front of the telly to do some serious knitting. I’m halfway through the second cloth, and my wrists are stinging with every stitch. For a little while, I wondered why I can happily sit down and knit a dishcloth any other day, but when it’s part of a challenge, it’s tough. And I realized that I’m seriously tensed up – probably from thinking about all the things still on the list, worrying how it will look to my peers when I fail. After all, who fails at a dishcloth? It’s a 12 x 12 square for heavens’ sake. I decide to chuck the whole endeavor in and admit that I’m a total plonker and cannot be expected to work under these ridiculous conditions.
Then I calmed down, and got back to work. I consciously relaxed my muscles and remembered that I actually enjoy the knitting process.
While I’m keeping half an eye on the boys from Supernatural, I think about the things that go into releasing a design, what I’ve learned from actively thinking about this process rather than just letting it happen, all the things I still have to do, and as I turn each row, I write them down again, making notes on each one.
I think the most important thing is that no matter the complexity or timeline of the pattern, I hold myself to a high level of professionalism. A pattern has to be firstly, pleasing – both to me, and to anyone who’d like to knit it.
Regardless of whether it’s a 2 page dishcloth or a complex two color cable design with 12 pages of photo tutorial, I think about the knitters experience. Are there any teachable moments? In this one, there are – it’s a great swatch for beginners in two color knitting. A great opportunity to practice floats and working on different techniques for not tangling your two yarns into a nasty mess.
Even for a short project like this, the same procedures apply –
thoughtful consideration of the end product
advertising – in this instance, blogpost, FB and IG, so no creation of ads
uploading to Ravelry
uploading blog post
I have half a dishcloth to finish knitting and an impending sense of doom as I realize just how crazy this whole thing is. The whole #Design48hr concept is great in theory, but in practice, it’s exhausting. Too much knitting to do, too little time, and surely that’s a big cloud bank in the sky?
Photos are done, and I’ve uploaded them, played around in PicMonkey and made myself stop messing with them. I really miss my photographer at this point, but there’s no way I could have booked her at such short notice, so this will have to do, and I have to be fine with it.
I’ve also spent some time second-guessing my design. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has panic attacks about something so mundane as a cotton dishcloth?
I’m determined to be positive though. The old, “Fake it till you make it” adage is going through my head like a mantra, so I’m determined to be sunny and happy.
Thank you cable provider for choosing today for a township-wide outage. It’s very much appreciated.
2 hours later, most of this post put into the computer and internet back, I’m down to the wire. I need one last look at layout, and then keep my fingers crossed that uploading everything goes well.
…… and there goes Illustrator. The spinning rainbow wheel is mocking me. I have to restart my computer and it takes a good 20 minutes to shut everything down and start it all back up.
I will not cry – although there are dishcloths around to mop up any tears!
1. Knitwear design is not for the feint of heart. Every pattern release is a piece of your soul and there’s a fear that it will be dismissed, derided or (worst of all) ignored.
2. The process cannot be rushed. I’m not sure if the thinking about things or the rushing of the process made it such an unenjoyable experience, but either way, I’ll not be rushing things again.
3. On a positive note, I’m proud of the little dishcloth – it’s a good quality pattern, and I’ll knit it again – frequently!
4. On another positive note, thinking about the process in real time, has been a real eye opener, and I’d like to think I can take proactive pointers from it all – in theory anyway!
It’s finished. You can see it and buy it here!