Friday, June 6, 2014

Knitter's Ailments and a Designer's Woes, Pt.1

I am sure that many of you have noticed that I am not around nearly as much as I used to be. My pattern releases have been less frequent, I only pop into Ravelry occasionally and I am sure that you can tell from the lack of posts here, I have been neglecting this blog the most. So what's the deal? I have fallen prey to the most common of knitter's ailments: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

This is nothing new for me. I have small wrists, so that made me a likely candidate no matter what career path I chose. It is one of the main reasons I gave up cosmetology, plus an allergy to perm solution made a job in a salon pretty miserable for me! With knitting, I have always done well managing it, but lately it has just been wearing me down.

In addition to the CTS, my lower back has been killing me lately...I think I have officially crossed into "getting old" territory. It has made sitting for long periods quite uncomfortable. Of course, when typing or knitting, I usually end up in a seated position. 

So, what are my plans to overcome these issues? Find out after the jump.

After months of lamenting, procrastinating and all together avoiding the fact that something had to change if I was going to continue as a knitwear designer, I have come to some workable solutions. Some of them everyone can do and some may seem a little out of your average knitter/designer's normal range, but these are what I think will turn it around for me. Hopefully, once I get all of this fully implemented, I will return to my former glory of consistent pattern releases and blog posts!

First, I have been working on streamlining my design process. Up to now my process looked like this:
  • Sketch and maybe a rough chart.
  • Swatch.
  • Do a rough outline of the sample size, maybe check to make sure it is gradable across other sizes (sometimes I didn't check, only to find I had created a design that only worked in one size).
  • Knit sample.
  • Grade pattern.
  • Write up pattern.
  • Send it off to my tech editor.
  • "Test Knit" (get a few knitters to double check the clarity and see if anything got past my editor and me).
  • Publish.
My new plan involves outsourcing the sample knitting which means that my new process will go a bit more like this:
  • Sketch.
  • Swatch.
  • Grade pattern.
  • Write pattern.
  • Tech edit.
  • Sample knitter.
  • Publish.
 As you can see, it is a bit more streamlined. Plus it enables me to catch any issues with grading early in the process, that way I can focus on fixing that or just move on to the next design. Also, the biggest benefit in all of this is that my personal knitting volume is greatly reduced. For a long time I held onto the idea that I must knit all of my own designs and a lot of times I did my designing "on the needles."

A couple things helped change my mind on sample knitting. Number one, I was on a deadline and number two, my CTS and lower back pain were a nightmare. At this point I had little choice but to up my game and hire a sample knitter. This meant that I had to switch my process to writing the pattern first instead of knitting the sample myself first. I am happy to say it went swimmingly and really increased my confidence to switch around my process.

The other thing I noticed...I really didn't mind not knitting the sample. I thought it would really bug me and I know when I read that a few other designers didn't knit their samples I thought that it must take all of the joy out of designing. You know what? It doesn't, not even one bit! I have found that what I love the most about designing is bringing that sketch to life. I have also found that once I figure the design out, I tend to lose interest in the knitting part. So having someone else take on the knitting allows me to puzzle out my next design. Also, the other big bonus is that I can have multiple samples being worked at one time, allowing me to release more patterns, more often!

Yikes! I ended up rambling on for quite a bit there! So as to leave you some time for other endeavors today, I will post the other solutions tomorrow. In the meantime, as a designer, would you ever switch to hiring sample knitters if you don't already? As a knitter, have you ever been interested in sample knitting? Let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Hi Tori,
    I think, it is a great pleasure for a knitter to make a sample for a designer! You are the first person that is holding the designed garment in your hands!!! I think this is a great feeling! You are a very talented designer and I have made your Zephyr and get a lot of Compliments for it! I´m excited to see more of you!!

    Good wishes to you

    1. Hi Melanie! That is a cool way to look at it and very true, sample knitters are the very first to see/make the completed design. Thanks so much and I am glad you like Zephyr! I will definitely be working hard at getting more designs out there, there is no shortage of design ideas!

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