Guest blog – Susan Elizabeth, designer and knitter
Meet Susan Elizabeth, designer of knitting patterns
Susan:Hello! I am very flattered to be interviewed for your website. My name is Susan, and I design knitting patterns as Susan Elizabeth. I go by the name stormarela on Ravelry and my knit.cat blog, although I sign blog posts at Crescent Moon Collective as Feather. More important though, is that I love to knit, and by love to knit, I mean I knit everyday. All this knitting happens wherever I am at the moment. This includes my home, here in Calgary, coffee shops, parks, airports, waiting rooms and National Parks.
How did you start designing knitting patterns?
Susan: Several years ago, I said I would never design a pattern, and that I just wanted to knit without concerning myself with all those details and measurements. This all changed when my daughter suggested I create a shawl in memory of dear friend. In March, 2014 I released my first pattern, River Shannon, a one skein fingering weight shawl. Luckily for me, there are lots of expert test knitters available to help ‘guide’ new designers. Since then, I have published 9 more knitting patterns.
What is your general process?
Susan: It seems that ideas come blasting into my mind, interrupting progress on some other project, and consume my attention until they are brought to life. I am often inspired by what my friends are talking about, or an interesting event or time of year, or nature herself. Usually it is something very specific, and then I work that idea into a knitted item. For instance, I wanted to make something with Oak Leaf motifs, and now have the Moonlit Oak Cowl in the works.
Once I have the idea in my mind, I choose yarn from my stash and start knitting and making notes. Lots of changes happen during this process. When I have the finished prototype in front of me, there may be even more changes. At this point I choose the perfect yarn for the finished item, and start knitting it again, clearly writing the steps down. Next, I type out the instructions and get pictures of my item.
At this point, I can call for testers in the Free Test Knitters forum at Ravelry. Any knitters who want to try out the pattern and can meet my deadline, sign up for the test knit. I like holding my test knits publicly on the forum, but not everyone does it like I do. During the testing period clarifications are made to the pattern. It is amazing how many details need to be addressed to ensure a pattern makes sense to the widest possible audience.
The StarPainter shawl, inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s
“The Starry Night”.
So you want to design a knitting pattern
If someone wants to design a pattern, what kinds of skills should they have?
Susan: This is a great question. Whether they start by knitting an idea and then putting it on paper, or by drawing it on paper and writing the instructions before knitting it up, they will need to be able to logically organize the written instructions. Needed skills would include creativity, knitting ability, imagination, organization. My advice is to start with something simple, and work through the process.
What tips can you share about posting a pattern on Ravelry? Are there resources you can recommend?
Susan: Ravelry is very user friendly for designers. There are all kinds of resources on the website, once you switch to a Pro account. (I believe it was free) There are YouTube videos, blog posts, and even a wiki on how to post patterns on Ravelry.
What kind of feedback have you received on your patterns?
Susan: I have had many nice comments and messages about the designs, met yarn dyers, expert knitters and other designers since I started publishing my patterns. It is always exciting to receive notice that a pattern was purchased! I really like seeing pictures of my designs knit up and modelled by the people who buy the patterns knit with different yarn. It is very rewarding and worth all the effort of getting those pdf patterns put together.
I now say thanks to Susan for bravely being my first guest. My thanks go deeper than that – she helped encourage my own creative growth by suggesting that I start making postcards. As a Postcrossing member, she had specific ideas that she wanted to see on postcards, and it has been fun coming up with new designs based on her suggestions.
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