You see a gorgeous pattern, a lovely model rocking the gorgeous knitwear. You click download and you are off. . ..
Like most of us, even those who create patterns on a regular basis, you may not think about the many people who have contributed their time, effort and creativity to make the pattern a reality.
Where Does the Pattern Design Begin
You might think, hey, there is the designer.
And of course, you are right. But the designer is often not the first person on the pattern’s journey. That journey begins further back than the designer’s original idea.
Yes, we can track waaaay back to the mists of time when some unknown person (most likely Ayla if you are a Jean M. Auel fan) decided to make string from something in their surroundings and combine that string with other strings and eventually invent knitting. But that is not what I am referring to here.
It’s also not about the fact that the designer of the pattern and everyone else involved is informed by their own culture, history and traditions.
What I am talking about is the more immediate people and elements that come together to make a new pattern possible.
The Beginning of the Process
Even before the spark (more on that later), there is all the recent inspiration that the designer of the pattern and of the yarn is exposed to on a regular basis. I love to look around me and at images of all sorts of inspiring things: designs in nature, on floors, walls and ceilings, in decorative and architectural details, in textiles, and just about anywhere else. I am not always looking at them wondering how to incorporate them into a design. But, I am taking note for future reference. I am accumulating the data that will inform many future designs.
Some of these inspirations meld together when it’s time to come up with an idea.
I am also referring to how the design is influenced by a myriad of other people.
Then there is the Spark
The spark is whatever starts the design process.
It may be some creative spark from a muse that has me furiously charting, swatching and designing into the wee hours because I am trying to capture that elusive “this is it!”.
It is just as likely to be someone suggesting a design through a call for submissions, challenge or collaboration.
Sometimes, I see a yarn and I feel the need to create something out of it.
Other times, it’s someone else’s project that sparks an idea for a new variation.
All of these involve other people: those who create commissions, collaborations, and challenges. Those who create gorgeous yarns. Those who have created amazing knitted projects in the past. Those who create and maintain the things that inspire me.
No designer works in a vacuum. Every design is a collaboration of all these people in some respect.
Without all the influences of others, the muse would never be moved to create something new.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary “a muse a person, or an imaginary being or force that gives someone ideas and helps them to write, paint, or make music” or to design. I think this is how most people think of a muse: the muse strikes and a whole and complete design is the result.
I think of my muse as that part of my brain that takes an image, word, thought or feeling and plays with it until something unique and useful is revealed. My muse takes all those influences and has fun with them. Then she tosses her idea to me, to work out all the logistics and make it work in the real world.
Just the other day a friend said a phrase that I have heard a thousand times in the last month or so. When she said it this time, for some reason my muse played a little game with the phrase and I almost physically heard a new variation of the phrase that really struck a chord. This gave birth to a whole new idea which I then had to work out the details for.
I didn’t deliberately think about playing with these words and creating something new. It just happened. But, it happened because of all the people before me who have played with words. It happened because my friend said those words at just the right time.
Sometimes it works that way.
Other times, I deliberately work and play with a thought or concept. I almost have to wrestle it into place: pushing, pulling, tweaking, and manipulating my brain and the process to get where I want it to go.
Regardless of how the process works, the process requires all of a creative’s experiences, understandings, education, etc. to create.
I think this is true of all the people who contribute to a pattern.
The Spark for the Going Postal Wrap
There were two distinct sparks for the Going Postal Wrap design process.
The first spark was the idea.
Two designer friends and I decided to work with yarn from a single yarn dyer and each come up with a design for the yarn. One of the designers had to bow out, but having a fellow designer to work with was such a wonderful experience.
My Fellow Designer
Ashley Hengst, my fellow designer on the design challenge is a gracious, encouraging and delightful woman with such fabulous ideas! She has encouraged me and prodded (when I needed prodding), comforted and inspired me throughout this process.
She is known as the MeanderingStitcher on Ravelry and also runs the lovely Meandering Stitcher website where you can read about her and her adventures. This woman travels around the country with her husband full-time. She literally is the meandering stitcher.
She is amazing and I encourage you to go check her out!
While you are on her website or her Ravelry page, you can check out the lovely Kaolin set that she designed for our challenge. It is done with the lovely herringbone stitch (and yes, she has tutorials).
The second spark was the yarn. A yarn cannot exist without a yarn dyer, or a dynamic duo of dyers in this case!
With some patterns, the design for the pattern comes first and then the search for the perfect yarn begins.
Other designs like the Going Postal Wrap, start with the yarn and the pattern develops from what the yarn needs the design to do. See Going Postal Wrap: the Story Behind the Design for more of that story.
If Beth and Ashley of Blue Mule Fibers had not designed the Lonesome Dove colourway and had I not fallen in love with it, the Going Postal Wrap would not have been designed. In this case, the yarn absolutely informed the design.
Thank you to Beth and Ashley for the huge part they played in this story.
The Tech Editor
My tech editor for Going Postal Wrap, Susan Huslop (Sue-Cat), helped to make the pattern clear and correct. She made some great suggestions for improving the pattern’s readability.
She brought her many years of experience, her inherent talents and her care and attention to this project. I am so very appreciative.
A good tech editor is worth her (or his) weight in gold.
The Test Knitter
The amazing Rena (Rainbow1907 on Ravelry) did an amazing job with her version of the Going Postal Wrap. She even found some errors that somehow got past all of the editing processes. Her input on the pattern was invaluable.
She chose these lovely colours that make the pattern sparkle!
Thank you so much Rena.
See more photos of her amazing version of the Going Postal Wrap on her pattern page.
The beautiful Monica, brought the finished shawl to life as she modelled it for the pattern photos.
I am so thankful to her for allowing me to take her photos and share them with the world!
Thank You to All Who Made this Pattern Possible
So many people have come together to make this pattern possible. This happens with every pattern that I (and most other designers) release.
I sincerely am grateful to all of them.
And of course, I am grateful to all the wonderful knitters who take that pattern and create beautiful projects from it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!