Monday, 16 June 2014

Knit and handy! How my products became patterns...

This time last year, I was doing the final checks of the pages for my book that had been sent to me by the lovely folk at Cabin Creative before it went to print! I learnt a lot from putting this book together and thought I would share some of the main stages of this process with you.

HOW TO PUBLISH: I had the idea to put together a book of hand knit patterns of my designs a good few years ago, and as more and more craft books (of varying quality) filled up the shelves, I decided it was time to put the wheels in motion with my own book. I did a bit of initial research into publishing but nothing was really making sense or speaking to me, so, as always I turned to real people. I knew Suzy and Ian from their awesome counter culture magazine NUDE, which my work had featured in, also, knowing that they had released their own book 'Bare Essentials - the best of NUDE magazine 2003-2011' I contacted Suzy with lots of questions about publishing a book. Her response was great, she set out all my different options and we decided to meet for a cuppa and a chat, which was when I found out about their new endeavour, Cabin Creative, and the book went from an idea to the beginnings of a reality!

I already had the ideas, the patterns were mostly coming from existing machine knitted products so I had something to work from.

YARN: Before I could do any tension swatches, I had to decide on the yarn, I wanted something good quality but not too expensive, so went for King Cole merino blend DK. I contacted King Cole and they agreed to provide all the yarn I needed for my pattern testing and knitted pieces for the book, this saved lots of money and the yarn was perfect.

SWATCHING: Now I had the yarn, I could start making tension swatches, after I had these I worked out the patterns one by one, testing techniques as I went along. I used my sketchbook to write down measurements and the basics of each pattern as I created them and using graph paper to plan out charts for pictorial designs.
KNITTING: I then took the patterns from my sketchbook, typed them all out then it was time to knit them and see if they worked! I had a great little gang of knitters, including myself, we knitted and refined the patterns until they were good to go. It was great to have an external influence at this early stage and see what other people thought of the patterns and the outcomes, I also had a professional pattern designer check the patterns for me before they went to print. Now, it was time to start setting things in motion with the design and layout of the book itself.
PHOTOGRAPHS: When all the knitting was done it was time to photograph everything, both on and off models as well as some close-up shots, we got plenty of photos so we could choose from them. I got friends of mine to model for me, and the photographer was also someone I know!


ILLUSTRATION: I'm very fortunate to have an 'in house' illustrator, my partner Ben has done illustrations for Knit and Destroy from the very start, we work so well together and he knows exactly the sort of thing I want from the illustrations. We decided to use illustrated 'scenes' for most of the patterns, we had lots of other hand drawn elements, the balls of wool for difficulty ratings, a picture of me giving hints and tips throughout the book as well as the instructional diagrams. Ben also worked the graphs for the patterns in photoshop.


LAYOUT: When I decided to work with Cabin Creative, they offered for Ian (one half of the company) to do the layout of the book, I loved the visual of NUDE magazine and knew that Ian would be easy to work with. After a few meetings to show Ian examples of the visual style I was after and a confirmation of the size of the book and final colour palette the layouts started coming my way. 
BIG DECISIONS: Now we were almost there, but this was where the really big decisions had to be made. What weight of paper should it be on? Matt or gloss? What kind of cover? Weight of cover? What order should it all go in? These weren't easy decisions to make but I made them, then it was time for the final check through and it was sent to the printers! Here is the first photograph I took of the finished book just after they had been delivered. I was really please with the outcome, and the amount of input publishing through Cabin Creative let me have.   
If you've not already got a copy, click the photo above to get one from my shop where you will get a free bonus pattern, not available anywhere else!