What I'm Working On Right Now | July 2017
Today, I’m delighted to bring you something a little different to the blog. After reading through all of your generous survey responses, I was surprised by how many of you wanted me to share more about what I’m working on, here on the blog.
In the past, I’ve often wanted to give you a greater look behind-the-scenes but I held back because, quite honestly, I had no idea if you guys would actually be interested! So as you can imagine, this was a happy revelation.
My plan is to check in with you guys every couple of months to give you an update on what I’m working on, the lessons I have learnt and some handy knitting tips. I will also give you a brief overview of my plan for the coming months.
I plan on being brutally honest about my design process - the highs and the lows, so please let me know if you enjoy this one!
What I’m working on…
YARN: Sparrow by Quince & Co in Mica.
WHERE I’M AT WITH IT
I started the design process for this t-shirt back in March and by May, I had a beautiful, finished sample.
Everything was going well until I started the test knitting process. Unfortunately, my pattern wasn’t in good shape at all. I had messed up a bunch of the calculations and everyone was having trouble with matching my gauge. So, after one round of test knitting, I have decided to do another!
Naturally, I’m disappointed by the setback, but it is really important to me that I put out my very best work and know that this extra step will be 100% worth it. At the moment, I’m aiming for an October release date that I’m hoping my southern hemisphere knitters will enjoy!
Spreadsheets are super important. When I designed this, I was mainly working out the pattern using pen and paper and then transferring it to a digital file. When an error came along, it was really difficult to check my calculations in my notebook, whereas now, I can check the calculations in my spreadsheet (even on my phone!) making it much easier to spot where something’s gone wrong.
Fabrics knitted with pure linen have a tendency to bias, which means that it can twist on the body. Sparrow is a plied yarn, so it does reduce some of that issue, however, there will still be some biasing. This problem can be controlled by using seams in your pure linen garments. Seams will give your garment structure and shape, preventing any excessive biasing.
YARN: Tosh Sock by madelinetosh in Cove and Paper.
WHERE I’M AT WITH IT
This pattern has been a joy to design and is progressing nicely. It has been in the works since May when I first swatched out my proposed stitch design. I’ve had a lot of fun with the calculations for this pattern, as the stockinette and stitch pattern both have very different gauges.
I really wanted to make this a well-fitting sock, so I have offered several sizes, each of which has the perfect amount of negative ease to not slide around in your show.
Currently, I have a large team of test knitters who are trying out the pattern - you can see their progress on the #gaufresocks tag on Instagram. I am planning to release it next month as a free pattern, so you can look forward to that!
The more test knitters, the better! As a new designer, I am still figuring out how to optimise certain processes. Until recently, I have only been using one test knitter per size in my patterns, however, that can be tricky if someone pulls out for some reason or your test knitter for that size doesn’t spot a problem.
After speaking to the absolutely brilliant Hanna Lisa, I have decided to start using at least two test knitters per size and three on patterns that are particularly tricky. This will make sure that my patterns will be as accurate and easy-to-follow as possible once they reach you lovely knitters. This sock test knit is going swimmingly and I think it is helped by the fact that there are so many knitters!
If you want your socks to fit your feet perfectly, you should try to knit them with 10% negative ease. This applies to both length and width of the socks. This negative ease will feel comfortably snug and won’t slip around in your shoe. Try it for your next sock and feel the difference!
YARN: Arranmore by The Fibre Company in Meara.
WHERE I’M AT WITH IT
I pitched this sweater to The Fibre Company back in April and was thrilled to be chosen as part of their yarn support programme for designers.
After a couple of months of fawning over the bag of yarn under my desk, I finally cast on last week and I’m enjoying working through the raglan section of this top-down sweater. There has been plenty of ripping, as is often the case in the early stages of a design, but it’s looking very promising indeed!
Believe in yourself. As cheesy as this lesson sounds, I wholeheartedly stand by it. When I heard that The Fiber Company were looking for designers to be part of their yarn support program, I doubted myself because I didn’t think I was established enough as a designer. I never dreamt that they would want to work with me. But, I applied anyway. Amazingly, they loved my design and now I have the privilege of working with this gorgeous yarn. Working with the incredible yarn companies that I have so far, even as a new designer, has taught me that we are all more talented than we think!
If you don’t already, make sure you wash and block your swatches. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to get an accurate gauge reading, plus you won’t see how the fabric will perform later down the line. I was amazed by how beautifully Arranmore bloomed after blocking - it transformed the finished fabric. I could never have accounted for this in my sweater design if I hadn’t blocked my swatch.
The next couple of months are looking pretty busy, as I’m sure is very common in the lead-up to the cooler months.
I will be hosting a couple of test knits: the second round for my Fragment t-shirt (which I’m planning a call out for this week) and later, for my Shorthand sweater. If you haven’t yet signed up to my team of test knitters, I would be thrilled to have you join us. Whenever I have a pattern ready for test knitting, I give my test knitting team the first opportunity to apply.
I am also continuing to oversee the test knit for my Gaufre socks, in anticipation for the free pattern’s release in August.
One of my goals for 2018, in particular, is to have more of my designs featured in beautiful knitting publications. I do have one coming up in Autumn this year (I’m not sure I can reveal which one yet), so I already have a head start! One of my tasks for this week is to submit a design to the gorgeous Amirisu, who are looking for designs for their SS18 edition. There are a few more gorgeous magazines that I intend to pitch to as well, once the submission calls are open.
In terms of new designs, I shall be starting the design work for a lovely new hat design in Rauwerk’s glorious new merino that I intend to release in early December. I may also start designing another pair of socks to be released in time for a Christmas Eve cast-on… More on those in my next instalment!
So, what do you think?
Did you enjoy learning a little more about my design process? If so, if there anything in particular that you’d like to learn more about? Share them in the comments section below - I always love getting your feedback!