Online KAL tips, How to Do it Right

So you want to run a knit-along for your new design, and you want it to be a success. First, as with all things, do a little research, and firm up your theme and goal, before you dig into the how.

Take a look at some of your favorite designers who are running a KAL, what are they doing that you like? Dissect what is making it work. Take a look at this google search I did, and eat up that info! There are a lot of good sense ideas out there. And some things may work better for you than others.

For starters, take into account your goal, and where you want to conduct your KAL. Do you want more email subscribers, and is that how you will be sending out your KAL info? Are you trying to start conversations, and be more active in the knitting community? Just tying to get some interest and attention in a design you’re excited about? Will you host it on Instagram, Ravelry, Facebook? Where is your audience most active, and most comfortable? A most important point, that cannot be overlooked, is that wherever you host it, you must be present there. You need to be available to check in on all discussion and all comments relating to your KAL, so you can answer any questions people may have, and keep everyone engaged. Don’t drop the ball!

In my research, this article in particular, by Leanne Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing (they offer lots of services to help makers with their businesses, including knit-alongs), I found very well organized, concise, and helpful. It talks about running any kind of make-along, and her advice is spot on. I highly recommend you read it, and consider all she says. (Go here to read it! :)) I will reference her points here.

When choosing the project for the KAL, pick something fun, but not so challenging that it will put people off. Pick something that can be done in a reasonable amount of time, too. Leanne suggests somewhere between four to eight weeks, so as not to lose anyone’s attention.

Plan ahead when thinking about promoting your start date. Your audience needs to know about this well in advance, so they can plan and be prepared. You also want to give yourself enough time to drum up interest before it starts.  Also be sure to scream it from the rooftops on any platform you have at your disposal! This is not a time to be shy about posting! Here are Leanne’s tips on how to promote, from her article:

“Begin promoting your MAL ten days to two weeks ahead of your start date. People need time to commit and get ready. Your participants will have to procure their materials and clear the decks of other projects.

Your announcement should include images of the finished project as well as a list of required materials. Include links to purchase supplies (or a kit) on your website, if applicable.

Don’t be shy. Send the announcement of your MAL to your email list, feature it in a blog post, and post it on all your social media accounts. If you’re recommending a specific yarn, ask the yarn manufacturer to help spread the word. If the project is from an outside designer, enlist their help as well.

If you are hosting a physical gathering in your store, have a sample of the project available for people to try on.

How will people indicate interest in your MAL? This is where you begin to create a two-way conversation and generate momentum. Be explicit in telling people how to join. Do you want them to comment “Count me in” on your Facebook or blog post? If you want to gather email addresses, put a link in your announcement.”

After it’s begun, have fun with it – keep that spirit alive for your participants! I just want to say this again – Be sure to comment on their posts, (and keep encouraging them to post). Be kind and helpful, and a cheerleader! Your audience is here because they like you and your work, and keeping them engaged throughout your KAL, and making it a great experience, will only keep them interested in you.

Good luck, and happy knitting-along! If you are going to host a KAL, let me know so I can cheer along!

 

 

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Pattern Writing: What to Include

A knitting pattern needs to include certain essential things, to be sure the knitter can get your results. What needs to be included in a pattern, and what is optional?

I find the most comprehensive a pattern is, all the better for the knitter, if you want your pattern to be accessible to any knitter. It doesn’t mean you have to fully explain every single technique, but including info on where to find a tutorial, and a complete abbreviation list, are a way to get the job done. If it isn’t your style to include these details in your pattern, you may want to state that your pattern is for an experienced, or intermediate, or advanced knitter, and not suitable for a beginner.

The components of a pattern are:

  • The name of the pattern, and an introduction.
  • What skills are necessary, (and here is where you could say what type of knitter is intended for the pattern).
  • What materials are needed, including all needles, notions, and yarn (and here I might say to give all possible information about the yarn used, including weight, brand, contents, and yardage/meters, as many knitters substitute yarn, and will need the details to make a good choice).
  • Gauge.
  • Sizing information, as well as  finished dimensions of the actual piece.
  • Pictures. Clear pictures that show off the design, as well as highlight what details matter most in choosing this pattern.
  • Detailed instructions.
  • Charts and schematics, if applicable.
  • Notes, if necessary.
  • An abbreviation list, of all abbreviations used in the pattern, with clear descriptions.
  • Your contact information, and more information about you, if you care to share it. As well as yourself, you should credit any others who worked on your pattern.
  • Your copyright statement, as well as the date and pattern number, if you have one.

The absolute necessities are highlighted in blue. I would likely argue that all the components are necessary, as I like a pattern to be a thing unto itself, and find that the best way for it to be successful is for the knitter to have all this information, in a clear and concise way. It ensures that the knitter can achieve your results, if they follow your pattern.

That said, an experienced knitter doesn’t necessarily need any more information than the highlighted bits, but let’s take the optional bits one at a time:

  • Intro – explaining a bit about your inspiration or intent for the design often inspires the knitter, gets them excited about your work, and is a great way for them to get to know you and what to expect from you.
  • Skills necessary – making this type of list in every pattern really is optional, except if there is an advanced or unique skill that is needed, then it really is helpful to know up front. Here is also a good place to include info on where the knitter can find a tutorial of some kind on any unique, new, or advanced techniques.
  • Type of knitter – If a pattern really is not suitable for a beginner, in your mind, it’s best to say so. And if it is suitable for a beginner, saying so might encourage one to choose your pattern.
  • Alternative yarn choices – I find this really helpful, to give complete yarn information (wanna know how much? It’s all right here)! The wrong type of yarn can completely destroy the knitter’s chances of getting your results.
  • Pictures – There are tons of patterns without pictures, but unless you are unable to take or include even one picture, I would always include as many as you can, that show off important details and uses of your design. A good visual of your design is worth its weight in gold, and knitters love them!
  • Notes – If there is something particular about your pattern, that isn’t self-evident, it is best to explain it, simply and clearly, so that the knitter doesn’t have to guess. That could be disastrous. 
  • Abbreviation lists – Most abbreviations are pretty standard, and experienced knitters may not need this, but any beginner definitely will. And including it leaves nothing to chance. If you don’t like to use comprehensive lists including all abbreviations, do be sure to include all less common and more advanced abbreviations, such as many cable and lace stitches. These are not usually all memorized in the head of even advanced knitters.
  • Information about you – Beyond your contact info, you can have a short bio in there, and that is fun for the knitter, but a lot of designers don’t choose to, and that’s totally fine.
  • Credits – It’s always considerate to give credit where credit is due, such as to a photographer, or tech editor, etc…, if anyone else worked on your design, but not everyone does. It depends on your point of view.
  • Date and pattern number (if applicable) – This can be helpful mostly to you, especially the pattern number, if there is more than one version.

The last three bits are not pertinent to the knitter being able to work the design correctly, and so they are the most optional, and also the most varied from designer to designer, and just as many people include those things, as don’t.

There is a lot to consider when putting together a pattern. Sometimes it can feel like too much, and who wants a pattern that is too overwhelming with too many components and words? Keep in mind, that a pattern can very successfully include all these components and be a joy to read and work from, with my favorite three things: consistency, clarity, and concision.  So, write on!

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Let’s Talk Gauge and Editing

The finished dimensions of a pattern are so important. They are what knitters are expecting to have at the end of the day. And they will base their yarn and needle choices, to achieve those dimensions, on the gauge given in the pattern. They will swatch it out, and, based on the gauge they get, and the gauge given in the pattern, decide what needles and yarn to use, and expect to get those dimensions with them. And shouldn’t they? If their gauge matches the gauge in the pattern, they should get those dimensions in the end.

Yet, it doesn’t always work out that way. Let’s make sure it does.

When your TE tech edits a pattern, we check all measurements against the gauge given for 1 inch, and 1 cm. We do the math and check everything based on those numbers. You need to be sure that those gauge numbers given are correct. You need to be sure that they match your sample; that they are indeed the gauge measurements of that sample.

 

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Also be sure that your sample has been washed and blocked, and that the gauge you take from it, is the final gauge after that process is complete. Yarn will measure quite differently before it’s washed, while it’s wet, and after it’s dry. We want the washed and dried measurement. (If your item isn’t meant to be washed, then you would skip that, and give the measurements after it’s worked). And do specify in your pattern, whether the gauge is blocked or unblocked. Lace shawls, for example, will have much different dimensions before they are blocked than after, and the knitter needs to know the blocked gauge. This is true for sweaters, and hats and mittens, piecework, and all of it. When the gauge was taken matters, and if your project needs to be washed and blocked, then after that is the time to measure it out.

So before you send that pattern off to the tech editor, double check that gauge. Make sure it matches your blocked sample, because it is the basis for all of the measurements in the pattern. And there is a lot riding on it!

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Style Spotlight on: Yarn Requirements

So we are going to tackle two things today:

  1. How to write yarn requirements on a pattern
  2. Whether or not to include generic yarn information, or only the actual yarn used

There are two camps on number two. One that only puts on the pattern the exact yarn used for the samples; and one that puts that yarn, and a generic guideline for what type of yarn to use, if not using the sample yarn. (A third camp even only puts generic yarn info, and doesn’t mention the yarn used. Although, it is almost always a good idea to put exactly what yarn was used for the sample, because then the knitter knows in case they want to use it). It’s totally up to you what you do. It’s your design and your yarn! And there are two camps for a reason. 🙂 And sometimes, like if you have yarn support for your pattern, or if your design was built around a particular yarn, and therefore tantamount to the results, like this pattern, then it can be tough to offer help for substituting. In all other cases…

I do understand that for best results, you want the knitter using the yarn you used. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. So, in order to be all-inclusive, which I love (more people included, more pattern sales, more happy knitters), if your pattern allows it, stating the yarn that was used, and also giving info on what type of yarn, and how much, is the way to go. That way knitters can use any yarn they want, in case they can’t get the one you recommend. Sometimes the sample yarn gives enough information, and the knitter can glean from that all they need to know, sometimes not. We’ll get into that further down.

Now, onto number one. In The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, Kate Atherley writes yarn requirements this way:

Dragonfly Fibers ‘Selkie Sport’ (70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% Silk Bombyx; 311
m per 113g skein), 1 skein; sample uses color “Mad Love.”

But that is just an example, as she says. You can use any style of punctuation and capitalization, as long as the end result is clear and easy to read. What matters most is that all the information is given:

  • Company name
  • Yarn name
  • Fiber content
  • #yds/#m skein/ball
  • #oz/#g skein/ball
  • # of skeins/balls 
  • Color(s)

Here is another example of how you could write it:

1 skein Dragonfly Fibers Selkie Sport (70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% Silk Bombyx; 340
yd/113 g), shown in Mad Love 

Here, the punctuation and placement is different, but all information is given clearly. I personally like giving the number of skeins first, because it is more succinct, but it is a matter of style.  (See here for doing it your way).  If the number of skeins varied, for a pattern with multiple sizes, you could put it this way:

Dragonfly Fibers ‘Selkie Sport’ (70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% Silk Bombyx; 311
m per 113g skein), 1 (2, 3, 4) skein(s); sample uses color “Mad Love.”

or this way:

1 (2, 3, 4) skein(s) Dragonfly Fibers Selkie Sport (70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% Silk Bombyx; 340 yd/113 g), shown in Mad Love

This example doesn’t have the color or the yarn name in quotation marks, but they are capitalized. Some kind of way of setting those titles apart is what’s important, so that it is clear that they are names. Either way is fine, as depends on personal style.

And whether you choose to say, shown in Mad Love; or sample uses color “Mad Love.”; or colorway used: ‘mad love’; or 1 skein in colorway Mad Love (MC), 1 skein in colorway Big Apple (CC), is all up to you and how you like it to look. All of those examples are easy to understand, and whether you like capital letters, certain punctuation, periods at the end of sentences, is all up to you. This is the kind of thing you just want to make sure you are consistent about, across all your patterns, and especially within one pattern, if more than one yarn is used. This is one of the things a style sheet is super helpful for. (To read all about style sheets, click here).

This example also uses yards instead of meters, and that truly depends on your audience, and what they need to know, or what terms they are most familiar with. If you are unsure about that, an easy fix is to simply give both; same for ounces and grams, like this:

1 skein Dragonfly Fibers Selkie Sport (70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% Silk Bombyx; 340
yds/311 m per 3.99 oz/113 g skein), shown in Mad Love

If you don’t like the “per” in there, you could just use a semi-colon, or comma, or what feels natural to you. If you want a period at the end of the line, do that. As long as it is clear, it’s usually good to go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Offering more information about the yarn needed can be helpful, and if you can help the knitter substitute yarn, make sure you mention things like,

  • yarn weight
  • amount of yarn needed (if you had very, very little yarn left, mention that they may need an extra skein, or instead of saying 1 skein, you could say 1-2 skeins)
  • color requirements (solid, tonal, variegated, striped, etc…)
  • yarn attributes (soft, tightly twisted, lofty, smooth, drapey, sturdy, etc…)
  • material, if it is pertinent to the design (wool, not superwash wool, superwash wool, cotton, silk, acrylic, etc…)

Sometimes it is enough to give the sample yarn, and that gives enough information. The example yarn info we are using here lets the knitter know how much of a wool and silk blend yarn they need, and that it is a sport weight yarn. But it doesn’t give all the information about the yarn. If you wanted to be sure, you could add:

Or 340 yds/311 m of sport-weight, tonal, plied, wool-blend yarn.

Not all yarn names are so revealing. So do take care to give the knitter details on what type of yarn they will need, if that is what you choose to do.

Any way you want to write it is fine. Maybe you want to include a whole paragraph about what type of yarn is best for your design, and why. Or maybe you just want to give the yarn weight and amount required. (Stick to the same punctuation and capitalization style that you used for the sample yarn info). Writing a lot or writing a little is fine, it all depends on your style, and how you like to present your patterns. It can also vary per design, and what each design demands in terms of yarn used. So don’t worry if you have one design that is very dependent on a particular yarn, and so no other info is given, but you have other designs where substituting is totally okay. What great variety!

As always with style, while making it your own, the biggest thing to remember is that your other goal is to clearly communicate the needed information to the knitter. When the knitter has all the needed information, and it’s easy to understand, the better their project turns out, and that is all the better for you! Making sure they have the details straight on the yarn requirements is a much needed step one.

 

 

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You Gotta Do You

There is always the right way; the way things should be. The fork goes on the left, and the knife and spoon go on the right. Toilet paper under, not over. Babies crawl before they walk. Indent all paragraphs.

I can already hear the arguments coming from people about those claims! In life there are some rules we have to follow, and some that can be left to our own interpretation. It’s the same way with style in knitting patterns. Certain grammar and spelling rules need to be adhered to, for clarity and ease of use, but there are many others that can bend any which way. I would suggest they only be consistent, and you can read more about consistency here.

Just-do-you-logo-pink

Sure, there are standards in place, by the big knitting authorities in the sky, that say your instructions must be this way, must include these symbols, must be structured a certain way. Standards that say what needs to be included in a pattern at all, or what to put first or second or last, what to put next to what. The truth is though, there are as many ways to do these things as we can dream up. As long as the pattern makes sense to the knitter, is clear, and includes necessary information, it’s all good.    

Spell the name any way you like, it’s yours. Knitting designs are creative works of art, you can’t think that the creativity jumps right out the window when you go to write it down. Just as the design is a creative expression, so is the way it will be communicated. Who wants to feel boxed in by style standards and parameters that are no better than what you want to do? You gotta do you. If you like using standard styles, that’s great, lots of people do! If you like some here and there, take what you like and leave the rest. Every designer has their own style, even with standards, and that’s the best! A good tech editor will be sure your pattern is clear, without squashing your unique style and voice. You can have both!

(For more on style, specifically, creating your own style sheet, go here).

Happy designing and creating! Can’t wait to see what you dream up!

 

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Getting gauge, or not…

Okay, so to give you the end of the story, I did get gauge for my sweater using the size 8 needles.  Trouble is, I really don’t like the fabric it made. Very flimsy and see-through, and not really what I was going for.  I’m hoping this sweater will keep me warm, after all.

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the loosey-goosey fabric with the size 8 needles

So I consulted the pattern, and my measuring tape, a comfy sweater I like, and my arm and bust; and figured out, based on the sts in the arm, and the bust, and using the gauge I got with the size 7’s, which size to make. (Wow, that is quite a sentence). 20171013_151519325_iOS

And interestingly enough, it turns out that the size I will get with my size 7 gauge of 18 sts equals 4 inches, is actually better for me and how I like things to fit. I don’t even have to make the next size up, but will stay with the size I had originally decided to make, had I gotten gauge. That never happens, so that is super fun.

I’m very glad to at last have this decided, and be able to cast on (as soon as I get the time to do so…)

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Getting Gauge

I’ve been working on gauge swatches for a new sweater for myself (yes, for me, so excited!), which can feel very time consuming, especially when you can’t wait to cast on! But it is an all so necessary step, if you want it to fit, that is! Let’s explore just how necessary…

The sweater I’m making is True, by Joji Locatelli; it is an open cardigan (oh, how I love a cardigan!), and I’m using Madelinetosh DK. The gauge for the pattern is 16.5 sts and 28 rows per 4 inches.

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This is a good time to say that your stitch gauge is the most important here.  Most patterns’ instructions involve knitting to a certain length, and not to a certain number of rows, so your row gauge doesn’t matter as much.  Do be mindful, though, if you are knitting a pattern that counts rows instead of inches, that your row gauge is correct!

The pattern calls for size 7 needles done in stockinette stitch, and then blocked.  So I used those needles and did just that. Let me mention that again: block your swatches, kids!

 

It’s safe to assume that your item will be washed once it’s finished, and every yarn behaves differently after being washed.  Some bloom, some shrink, some stretch. However the yarn behaves, rest assured that your blocked measurements will be, if even only slightly, different than unblocked. The blocked measurement is what we need.  So after you finish knitting your swatch, soak it for a few minutes in cold water and wool wash, and then lay it out to dry completely, before you measure.

So after all that, I did not get gauge. Sigh…

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For four inches, I got 18 sts, not 16.5. And my 16.5 sts was 3 and 3/4 inches. This is important to know, as it can be a good guide to figuring out what to do next. A good rule of thumb is that for every 1/4 inch your gauge is off, go up or down one needle size. Since I am under gauge by 1/4 of an inch, I will go up a needle size for my next swatch, to a size 8.

 

 

 

I did get the correct row gauge though, of 28 rows per four inches. So it’s most likely that with size 8 needles, in an effort to get my stitch gauge, the row gauge will be off.  I will need to be careful to make sure I am knitting to the proper lengths as I knit this, to be sure I get the size I want. For this pattern, having the correct stitch gauge is more important. It will be much easier to knit to the proper lengths, than to adjust the whole pattern to suit the wrong stitch gauge.  That can be done, of course, if you want to use a thicker or thinner yarn, or knit in a different gauge.  You simply would need to calculate the finished measurements yourself, based on your gauge, to know which size to make. Be careful doing this, though, that you don’t miss anything. (Covering that would be an entirely separate blog post)!

Of course, gauge isn’t always so important for everything we make. A shawl coming out several inches too long or too short might not be a big deal, or likewise, a scarf or blanket; but try hats and socks and mittens and sweaters that are several inches off.  No good at all. And haven’t we all made those things that didn’t  fit! Indeed! 🙂 

Consider this: If you are making a sweater with a total of 200 sts, at a gauge of 5 sts to the inch, for a sweater with a 40″ bust, and you are off by even 1/2 st to the inch, your sweater will be either four inches too big or too small.  A half inch doesn’t seem significant, but when you add up all the 1/2 inch’s that are missing, or that are too many, you end up with a garment that doesn’t fit. That stinks, a lot of work and beautiful knitting, only to be disappointed. Even baby hats won’t fit if the gauge is off.

It’s not enough to just cast on with the needles and yarn the pattern calls for and get right to it. All knitters knit differently, and you may knit tighter or looser than the designer, and require different needles entirely.  Think of the time and effort in knitting something, and then take the time (however painstaking) and work up a gauge swatch first. You’ll be glad you did, as I will be, to work up another swatch (even as I am dying to cast on)!

20171011_150059527_iOSHappy swatching, and measuring, and knitting!

 

 

Ps. If you have knit with the same needles and yarn together before, and already know        your blocked gauge with them (and be sure they are the exact same needles and                  yarn), then you get to cast on quicker, provided you haven’t changed how you knit!            Just remember, when in doubt, swatch it out!

 

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Knitwear Designing Money-Savers

Designing isn’t free.  Apart from the mountains of work required to design and write a pattern, there are many things that go into producing a great knitting pattern that cost money.  As independent designers, everything falls on the designer, and a lot of the time, the cost of the patterns isn’t always enough to cover the expense of writing them.

I can’t put it any better than Woolly Wormhead did in this blog post, The True Cost of a Pattern, where she points out all the things you already know, and all the things you never thought of before, from the upfront costs of yarn and labor, to the additions of tech editing, test knitting, and photography, and then all the hidden costs that eat up most  designers’ dollars. 

Here are a few ideas, and a few resources, to help you save money when setting out to design a pattern. These aren’t always options for everyone. It depends on many personal outlooks and choices, but it can serve as a jumping off point.

  • Test knitters and tech editors need to be compensated, of course, but the more organized and clearly you present the design to them, the less the cost will be for you. Sometimes, you can barter for these services, too; you can trade your skills for theirs, and be generous.
  • Take your own pictures, and get your family to model for you, if you can. Pay them in love.  
  • Consider seeking yarn support from an independent dyer, partnering your pattern with their yarn, a win-win.
  • Submit your designs to online knitting magazines, such as Knitty or Twist Collective. This will help with advertising costs, and give you a much larger audience.
  • Use free knitting pattern templates, like those listed here, or read knitting books for inspiration, and make up your own.  Fancy software isn’t even necessary. 
  • Similarly, use free chart fonts for charting, like this one, when creating your own charts. You can find knitting related type fonts, too, or any interesting fonts truly, at Font Space, and download them to your computer. 
  • Conversely, Stitch Fiddle is a free charting software, and easy to use. Give it a try!
  • Use your library, and scour the internet.  Free resources are out there. Type your search into your library website, or Google, whichever your preference for reading.
  • Keep your computer updated, and in good shape.  A good computer can last over a decade if regularly updated. Keep up to date with the techno world on CNET, and always do your research before you buy anything.
  • Your time is valuable, and you should be compensated, but there is much that only you can do, especially on a budget, so budget your time as well. Make sure you set up breaks in your day, and in your week, so that you don’t feel like you’re working for nothing, or feeling overworked.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, as ways to save money are as boundless as your imagination, but I hope it helped, and that you can get some patterns in under budget!

 

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Working at Home

When we decided to have kids, we knew we wanted one of us to be home with them, and one of us most always has, and we are lucky and grateful, but it didn’t mean we didn’t have to work, of course. I had a couple part time jobs here and there (one that was the perfect ideal situation, and I loved it, and a few that were disasters) but have always searched for ways to work at home. It best suits my personality, and it best suits my family’s needs, and that’s my main priority. But it took a lot of years to find the right thing.

I tried selling all kinds of things, including knitting, and it really didn’t work out well at all, although I learned an awful lot. Partly I wasn’t in love with what I was doing, and either way, nothing worked out. After the dream job I had ended, I searched again, and trying to stay in knitting, I came to tech editing, which I love, and have worked tirelessly to educate myself and grow my business, and it is the perfect fit for us. Finally, with my kids in their second half of grade school, I have figured it out!

(You wouldn’t have believed the chaos right before that picture of my people, no wonder my son is missing his glasses and my daughter has pitch on her face…) That caption is a good lead in to reality…

So what is it like working at home… with kids… with family drama… and a cat… and laundry, and supper to get on… with a husband and father thrown in the mix. As many of you know, lots of days, it’s like this… especially in summer.

hair-pulling kristinamamaknits

I had just come to a good schedule, rhythm and pace before school let out this year. I had a space where I could work, and close the doors.  I came home from the bus stop and got right to it, and had tasks for every day, and got them done, ever the organized one. When the kids came home, I was finished, ready for them, and could dive right into the ever stressful world of homework, drama, and supper.  (I wasn’t usually wanting to, but such is life. 🙂 Diffusing some oils, and having some wine often can make homework smoother…)

But bring on summer, and kids all around, and all their needs and plans, and my schedule and organized business got quite jumbled up. The mom in me is happy with the mood of summer and the things we need to get done, but the business owner in me is frazzled and scattered. There was a week I took off, and that’s just as good for your business as working is.  Everyone needs a break, and time to recoup, and I’m glad I had that. But work-wise, everything was just up in the air, too random, and too much on the back burner. I finally (now with only one week until school begins!) have a solid system in place. Johnny on the spot here! Ha!

While they are inside waking up and doing their summer morning thing, I take my coffee and hunker down on the deck with my flowers, and get things done that I can do without my desk. Most of the time I have sunshine and birds, and it’s quite nice.  I even sometimes will stop and knit a bit. My stolen moments outside are my favorite.

Anything I need to do at my desk, I save until they are quite occupied, and lots of the time, this works.  If I am on the phone, my children will attack me with questions and problems and never leave me be, but at the desk, they are pretty good about knowing I’m working, and limit their bothering to minimal. I appreciate that, and tell them so. But in summer I have found, it helps a great deal to do my desk work in short bursts, instead of long stretches.  This way I am able to be mostly present and deal with house stuff all day, with “work breaks” peppered in.

It all still feels a bit chaotic, because my head is swimming with so much going on. Writing it all down, exactly what I need to do and when, is a huge help, what got me on track, and ticking off lists is invaluable.  I’d love to hear what things keep you in control of your business at home!

I do not lose sight, either, that perhaps part of the reason working at home is working this time, is what I’ve chosen to do, yes, but maybe also that my kids are not toddlers anymore. They are getting pretty independent, and need less from me physically. Even still, there is the odd day when I forget to feed them lunch (so true), or forget they need to shower (I know, it’s bad), and I don’t realize until too late that my house has turned upside down (you know, the odd day), but it all gets done in time… eventually!

I am hoping I will be in a good place when school starts, and working will be less distracted for me, but truly, I am sad summer is ending.  I didn’t get near enough knitting on the beach or in front of a fire time. And the school year may bring quieter days for me, but it also brings busier days, holidays, and more work, and lots of stress for all of us.  I am not looking forward to that. I like the laid back feel of summer,  even if my business didn’t!

We’ll meet in the middle and get it right one of these days.  Until then, the struggle is real. Working at home. 🙂

 

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All About Style Sheets

If you are going to design and write knitting patterns, it’s a good idea to have a style sheet. (No need to worry or stress if you don’t have one, and we’ll get to that later). A style sheet acts like a guide and a checklist for you, and your tech editor, to be sure everything necessary is included, and that it is how you like it.

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A lot of information needs to be given in a pattern, and I tend to think that the most information you can give the knitter, the better. You never know when there may be a brand new knitter buying your pattern, who will need all the details. A pattern has a lot of components; it needs to include:

  • The name of the pattern, and an introduction. Some designers like this to be simple, and some like to add their inspiration or vision for the design. Completely up to you, and how you approach your pattern writing.
  • What skills are necessary, keeping in mind that beginners may pick up your pattern.
  • What materials are needed, including all needles, notions, and yarn (and here I might say to give all possible information about the yarn used, including weight, brand, contents, and yardage/meters, as many knitters substitute yarn, and will need the details to make a good choice).
  • Gauge and sizing information, as well as  finished dimensions of the actual piece; you may even need to include gauges in different stitch patterns.
  • Pictures. Clear pictures that show off the design, as well as highlight what details matter most in choosing this pattern. You can never have too many pictures.  We knitters love them!
  • Detailed instructions (and there are so many variations on how these can be written, which a style sheet is especially helpful for), including any charts or schematics necessary; also any notes on the pattern that the knitter will need to know.
  • An abbreviation list, of all abbreviations used in the pattern, with clear descriptions. Here is an excellent list by knitwear designer, Michelle Krause (you can find her online at this website). You can also refer to the Craft Yarn Council’s master list here. Be sure to include any special stitches you might be using, and how to execute them.
  • Your contact information, and more information about you, if you care to share it. As well as yourself, you should credit any others who worked on your pattern.
  • Your copyright statement, as well as the date and pattern number, if you have one. These usually go at the end, or even sometimes repeated at the bottom of each page, with a page number. Again, it depends on your personal taste.

So, whew! That’s a lot of stuff to remember to include, and to remember how you like to do it, and to make sure you didn’t miss anything, every time you write a pattern.  When you have a style sheet, you can just tick down the list, and double check that everything is as you like it. So if you do draw up a style sheet, it will include not only what you need to write, but how you want it to be written, as in:

What sorts of brackets or punctuation do you use in your instructions? How do you want your name to be presented, and do you want to include some personal information? Do you capitalize all lines, and end all with a period, or not? Do you plan to use both metric and US measurements, or are your designs more geographically specific? All of these questions, and many more, need to be answered, and any answer is fine.  All designers have their own uniqueness that should shine through in their patterns, and therefore will have their own ways they want things to be written, and want things to look. 

Here is an idea of what is needed on a style sheet, to give you a sense of what to include, put together by fellow tech editor, Cyndi Tiedt. Find Cyndi here.

You will likely want to tweak any resource you find to suit your personal style, and that is awesome, as long as the instructions remain clear, accurate, and easy for the knitter to understand and follow.  There is some wiggle room in a style sheet! As well as being concise and clear, it’s also about how you want to present your designs, and keeping your style consistent through all your patterns (which a style sheet is super helpful for), helps you have a face out there.

Here is a comprehensive style sheet template made up by knitwear designer and tech editor, Kephren Pritchett. Her website can be found here.

These style sheets are a good jumping off point, if you aren’t sure where to start.  A lot of tech editors, myself included, can create a style sheet for you, and work with you on what matters most to you, so that it represents your unique style. Check to see if it is a service your tech editor provides, if you want to hire someone to help you. You might consider these resources for starting out:

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My all time favorite resource on pattern writing is hands down Kate Atherley’s book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, and you can find out more about it at her website by clicking here. I don’t think there is anything she misses in this book. There is also a Craftsy class you can take on writing clear and correct knitting patterns, by Edie Eckman, that includes style sheet templates, yes, but many more lessons on how to best communicate your designs.

The most important thing is that your patterns be clear and correct, so that more knitters will want to knit them, and that your patterns reflect who you are, and what you want to share with them. 🙂

A style sheet is a great tool in helping you get it right every time! But as I said earlier, don’t stress if you don’t have one, just take your time and be sure you’ve included it all, and it’s all consistent.  And if you are sending a design out for tech editing, you can include another pattern of yours, that is exactly correct and how you like it, and the tech editor can use that as a guide. Conversely, if you don’t have any style reference to send, most tech editors can edit your design by checking for consistencies in style and format, and making sure your intentions are clear.

Happy styling and designing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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