It takes a village to raise a child, but the saying could also apply to pattern writing. Publishing a new knitting pattern involves a lot of steps and usually a lot of people.
It all starts with an idea and a yarn skein whether you get one or the other first. Sometimes the yarn itself is the inspiration, sometimes the yarn is tailored to suit the pattern requirements, sometimes you have to adjust both to have them to work together. That’s why my knitting notebook is filled with a lot of drawings. Some of them made the cut and became designs. Some will most likely never move to the next stage.
Once the design idea is fixed, there are many ways to go. My first one was to go with the flow, start drafting the first chart if needed, grab some needles and knit. Writing everything was the last thing to occur, at the very end. I try not to do that anymore unless I don’t want to publish the pattern anyways. It has its perks, like enjoying creating something through the whole knitting process, not worrying about any changes in the pattern as nothing is written, and complete freedom while knitting. But it also has its downsides like having to write down every single row while you knit, in an actual notebook not on loose paper sheets as I did sometimes otherwise it’s way too easy to lose them, or not knowing if you’ll have enough yarn at the end what you’re knitting (and I tend to lose at yarn chicken).
My current way of creating new designs is to first knit a gauge (or multiple gauges), then write down a draft in my notebook and run all the calculations in order to be sure I’ll have enough yarn based on my gauge, create all the charts, making sure they are adaptable to grade if needed, sometimes even grade them already, and only at this point I’ll start actually knitting the sample.
Once the sample is knitted, blocked, and roughly photographed, I’ll transcript my notes in a Word document, adding all the details and instructions you’ll have in the final pattern. My tech editor, James Bartley, step in and edit the pattern: he checks my English spelling, runs again all the calculation, makes sure every increase or decrease is taking into account, validates the general clarity of the pattern and the layout, catch typos, and even help e to phrase/rephrase things if it’s not crystal clear. He’s really skilled and I’m so glad to be working with him.
Once the first round of edit is done, the ball is in my court again. That’s when I add the pattern text in the final layout and translate it into French. The pattern is then ready to go through the test phase, where test knitters will knit it as written and catch up remaining mistakes, discrepancies, and validate the different sizes and yarn length I calculated. This is a crucial step for me as my goal is to offer you the best patterns I can. If something is not logical or if something is hard to figure out, they will tell me and we will work together to find a way to improve it and make it as clear as possible. I cannot stress enough how crucial test knitters are to this whole process and I cannot thank them enough to be willing to join me in this journey. At the end of the test, the pattern go through James again, to have an external final proofreading and layout validation.
When publish time comes, my work is not done yet. I have to launch it and promote it on all of my channels: Instagram, Facebook, Ravelry, and in the Tisserin Brood dispatches. It takes way more time than one can imagine especially as this is not one of my strongest skill.
Some designers even have more help and more people involved in the making of their pattern as they have a photographer, a professional grader, a graphic designer, or even an assistant to help them promote their patterns. Did you know it involves that many steps and people to publish a pattern?
And after all that, you are the ones who will really give life to the pattern in knitting it as I truly believe that a pattern really shine through the skilfull hands of all the knitters that will make them their own in changing the colour they’ll use, modifying it to best suits their needs, or even merging it with another one to create the perfect FOs they will cherish over the years.
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