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…)

kristina

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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!

kristina

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!

kristina

 

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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.

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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. 🙂

kristina

 

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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!

kristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Exactly Does a Tech Editor Do?

Lots of new designers may be unfamiliar with what a tech editor is, or how it can be indispensable to the success of their patterns.  And simply, a knitting tech editor is the person who goes through your pattern with a fine tooth comb, checking every word, every number, every line, to be sure they are error-free, clearly stated, and include all the necessary information that the knitter will need.

They will check that the gauge given matches up with the dimensions provided; they will look at all grammar and spelling and check for any typos or errors, as well as any inconsistencies with the style of the pattern, to be sure everything is a clear as it can be.

A tech editor will double check all the math involved in determining stitch counts and row counts to be sure it is correct, and all numbers given are accurate. They will look to see that all necessary components of a pattern are there, what skills are needed, what materials are needed, and any glossary information the knitter may need.

As well, they will scrutinize any pictures you give, to be sure the pattern matches exactly what is shown. Any charts or schematics included will be checked by your tech editor to be sure that they match up with all the written instruction, also. And this is all done for every size given, and every line, every number, every word of the pattern.

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Tech editors use spreadsheets, and graph paper, note paper, online editing software, different pens and pencils, lots of different books and online resources, as well as any ideas or comments you have, to do their job right. Tech editors work very hard to be sure they don’t make any errors; after all, you are counting on that! Errors may get made, but are usually caught and corrected long before your pattern goes to publish.

Most tech editors, after sending the pattern back to you with their edits, will check it again a final time once you’ve made corrections, to be sure you are good to go.  And most tech editors will give you an estimate cap when you first submit your pattern, so you don’t have any surprises about what the cost will be. A lot of new tech editors offer lower rates, and are happy to work with brand new designers, who are just starting out, like they are.

Without a doubt, a designer should be able to find a tech editor that they can work with easily, who is friendly and helpful, and above all, accurate, and adheres to their style.   And this is why a tech editor is indispensable: Consider that if a knitter buys your pattern, and it’s a struggle to knit because of errors, they aren’t likely to buy more of your patterns, and that would be no good at all!

To read more about whether or not you really need a tech editor, click here. 🙂

kristina

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Do I Need a Tech Editor?

If you’ve seen my patterns, then you know that when I rarely do design, I do not design complicated things!  I love tech editing, and go over my clients’ patterns again and again with a critical eye, making sure to catch any mistakes lurking there, and find them! But it is amazing, that with my own very simple patterns, it is all too easy to miss errors in my own work.  Most tech editors I know, if they design also, always hire fellow tech editors to edit their own patterns; because it is always a good idea to get a fresh pair of eyes on something you are too close and personal with. Someone else will always think of something you didn’t. And a professional knitting tech editor is your best choice.

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When you’ve lived with a design long enough, and spent a lot of time building the pattern, it’s tough to catch every little thing.  Your eyes are just too used to seeing it all, and it looks just fine.  And bottom line, it is very difficult to come at your own work in a completely objective way, allowing you to see those mistakes, even if you are a whiz at proofreading and editing, reading patterns and math. If you want your design worked the way you want, so knitters can get the result you intend, hiring a tech editor to go over it first with a fine tooth comb, even before you send it out for test knitting, can assure that you are putting out the product you want, and that the knitter can easily reap those rewards.

kristina

 

 

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Punctuation Points

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One of the things we check in tech editing a pattern is style and format, including consistent and complete use of punctuation. Punctuation isn’t knitting.  It isn’t the stitches or the design, or the method or the math, and it’s not exciting; but in a knitting pattern, it is essential that it be present, and above all, consistent.

These marks are like background noise – we don’t really notice it, and it blends into the pavement (yes, I totally got that phrase from Luigi in Cars), but when the sound is shut off, it’s really obvious. Same with punctuation – we don’t really notice it, but if it’s wrong, it’s very confusing, and that is especially true in a knitting pattern. Normally, if a comma is misplaced, or a period forgotten, most times we can figure it out based on context clues, but in a knitting pattern, that isn’t always possible at all. It’s like that thing you don’t notice, but when it’s gone, you’re like, “Huh? What do I do?”

For example, when placing commas between directions within a row, forgetting any can be confusing to the knitter: k1 p2, yo p2, k1. (“Huh?”) It might make you think the instruction is different than the last, and it’s also harder to read.

And in a pattern, there is a lot of room for individual style, so all designers use punctuation differently. How do you use your commas, periods, semi-colons, colons, brackets, parentheses, dashes, asterisks, and even, spaces? Some, most, or all of these are usually present in a modern knitting pattern, and using them consistently will exponentially ensure that there is no confusion to the knitter.  So, however you choose to use them, and most any way is fine, be sure to use them in the same manner, and for the same purpose throughout the pattern. It is a huge component in a clear pattern, and a clear pattern is what we want.

For example, if you are using a * in one line to denote where a repeat begins, then you wouldn’t want to use brackets for that in another line, or the knitter may not know   what you want them to do.

If you have your measurement in inches in parentheses, and then your measurement in centimeters in brackets, don’t reverse them later on in the pattern, or the knitter may end up with some interestingly sized garment!

Even how you use spaces makes a difference, and if it is the same throughout, it is easier to read, and that makes it easier to understand. And having our patterns easy to understand is definitely a top goal in writing them! We may not realize how important punctuation is in a pattern, but then if we knit from a pattern where style and format are inconsistent, their importance becomes very obvious.  Background noise can be a lovely, welcome sound. 🙂

kristina

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