Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Design Challenge 2016

I felt so good about reentering the pattern publishing game that I decided to challenge myself this year to keep designing, writing, and publishing! I wanted something that would stimulate my creativity, and keep me motivated, productive, and on schedule. I wanted to make sure it would be fun, and exciting, and not feel like a chore, and that by the end of the year I would feel like I've really grown as a designer and earned a lot of practical experience. Earning a little money wouldn't hurt, either.

I Googled for a while but couldn't find anything even remotely close to what I was imagining. All my results were either KALs (knitalongs) or design contests. So, I simply made one up on my own. Perhaps someday other people will use it!

I started with the Ravelry pattern browser filters for inspiration. There are five main categories of items: Accessories, Clothing, Home, Toys and Hobbies, and Pet. There's a sixth category, too, called Components, which is a sort of catch-all for appliques, blocks and squares, charts, tutorials, etc. I decided to ignore this one for now and focus on the first five.

I would like, by the end of the year, to have one pattern available for sale in each category. This means either coming up with a completely original design, or using something completely original that I've already knit in the past, and writing out a full pattern for it, complete with photos, editing and formatting it, and listing it on Craftsy and Ravelry. I haven't decided yet if I'll have all of them test knit first. The clothing one I probably will, because any good clothing pattern should be available in multiple sizes. But I may not have enough time to have them all tested.

so damn cute
I've already selected my item for Accessories - a crazy cute fox hat that I knit for the craft fair. It didn't sell that day, so I have it on hand to study closely, which is fortunate because I didn't write any of it down while I was improvising it! I also have no idea what brand yarn I used, so I'll have to do some retroactive yarn hunting to figure that out, or at least get close enough.

Here's a peek at my brainstorming for the other categories:

  • Clothing - probably a shrug or bolero. Keep it simple. A complicated pullover could take you all year just by itself! I'm thinking a square lace back knit in the round, with added sleeves and collar.
  • Home - Hmmm so many possibilities! Cafe curtains for the kitchen? Throw pillow? Nerdy coasters? I'm the least decided on this one of any category.
  • Toys and Hobbies - Could be a stuffed animal, but I'm leaning towards creating another dice bag! They're so fun! And I got inspired and went a bit nuts sketching out some steampunk fairisle ideas. 
  • Pet - A small dog sweater that looks like a turtle shell, with a long snood. I don't know where this idea came from but once it was in my brain it would NOT go away. I even made a sketch. I must make this a reality.
Oh! And part of the challenge is that I need to blog regularly about it, at least once a week, partly to keep me on-track and accountable but mostly because I need an excuse to write more often! See you soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

An Overdue Resolution

Almost exactly two years ago, a mom in my local parent group commissioned a custom knit hat from me. She sent me a handful of Googled pics of what she had in mind, but I wanted to design something original and hopefully, eventually, publish a pattern, so I used her pictures for inspiration rather than to inform a Ravelry search of existing patterns.

She wanted it to be chunky, cabled, and billed. I had fun coming up with something beautifully geometric, texturally rich, and of course, snug and cozy. The bill was an especially exciting challenge as I had never knit a billed hat before and I had to tackle some pretty unfamiliar techniques to get the shape and firmness just right.

Rocking the original commissioned hat in 2014

It took me all of three days to knit that hat and note down the details of what I'd done, and another day or so to flesh out a proper pattern. Shortly after I sold it to her, I realized I would need better procedural photos to include with the pattern, so I started knitting a second hat - the pictures my husband took while I was knitting that extra hat became my smocking tutorial post. I finished the main body of the hat in a day, and set it aside to do the bill and button band later.

Later never came.

By that time, I had found out I was pregnant with Cyrus, I was also working like crazy on getting the Silicon Forest pattern polished and published. More new projects called, my belly expanded, and the 90% finished hat pattern project just sat and sat and sat. And then, naturally, I had the baby, and for quite some time, anything I wanted to do in my precious spare time had to be excruciatingly prioritized.

I knit fewer than two dozen items in 2015 and most of them were for that craft fair at church.

So when 2016 took over, I didn't necessarily resolve to do anything. But I took a good look at what I had left unresolved for too long. And I decided to stop making excuses for the ones that I had no honest reason for ignoring. Like this hat. All in all it took me just over two hours to knit the bill, take the pictures I needed, proof the pattern, and fill out all the listing information to sell it on Ravelry and Craftsy.

Accomplished adult couch selfie!

And now I have TWO patterns for sale. Ha. I'm so legit.

PS: I didn't knit the button band. I didn't need a picture of that. I'll get to it... later...