Designing is both a skill and a creative art form. Whether the designer’s work results in a building, a chair, a garden or a garment it’s important that we respect it. Not just anyone can create a design. Today I want to celebrate designers.
Designing requires more than just coming up with a cool, innovative or creative idea. It takes a lot of trouble shooting, math, trial and error, frustration and perseverance. There are probably a zillion design ideas that will never see the light of day. And it’s because it’s a lot of work to take it from idea to item.
Truly original ideas are very rare.
Generally, anything that is designed is going to have similarities to existing items. If we focus on knitting patterns as our example (since that’s my daily focus) let’s face it, a cardigan or a sock have to be a certain way or they won’t function as required. So you have your basic structure that immediately limits how creative you can get. If it isn’t essentially a tube with a 90 degree turn in it and one closed end, it won’t be a sock. (I know, you can have a tube sock without a heel… you get my drift, though.) Obviously, there’s a lot that a designer can come up with to create a beautiful sock that is different than others. That’s where the talent, vision, skill and perseverance come in!
Recently I started looking for local knitting designers. I want to support them by selling their patterns in my store. So far I have purchased patterns from Raquel Oliveira of Squamish, BC and Knox Mountain Knit Co. from Kelowna, BC. Their designs are lovely. I encourage you to check them out on Ravelry or come and see them in my store.
© Knit It Out
Knox Mountain Knit Co.
© Knox Mountain Knit Co.
I have personally been inching away at a cardigan design for small children using a particular construction technique. After spending months of all my spare time, (obsessively) I have one size completed (using chunky weight yarn). I used three different yarns respectively, abandoned one of them, knit and frogged many, many times. I tested the pattern more than once and had another person test the pattern as well. It was revised multiple times to correct the errors we found. That was only one size. Yeah, I can “math” the others to some extent, but they still all have to be test knit to be certain that the proportions will be correct. The math in knitting is not exact. It’s a lot of work.
I already have a full time job (being a knitwear designer is not a particularly lucrative way to make a living! cough, cough… LOL) so all this happens in my down time. It takes care and focus to write a good pattern. Often when I have down time, I am too tired to have the focus needed. Often, I’ll get the bones of the design down so I can go back to it later and write it out properly. I have a collection of those, waiting to be finished. I still absolutely LOVE designing. I truly love the actual writing of the pattern every bit as much. And that (as any knitter knows) is an art form too. A well written pattern is worth a thousand poor ones. Once the actual written pattern is created, it requires photos and formatting. That takes a whole other set of skills and a particular eye.
What I’m trying to say is that designers who create beautiful patterns that we can follow to make practical and lovely items deserve our respect and support.
When you find a design you like, show that designer some love! Buy their pattern.
We can protect designers by avoiding those sites that take you down a rabbit hole for the promise of a free pattern. Those sites often don’t even own rights to the patterns they are giving away and it means that they take away from legitimate designers the means to support their creative endeavours.
Next time you are scrolling Pinterest or Ravelry take a moment to really appreciate the endless hours designers have spent turning inspiration into a tangible pattern.
Follow the designs all the way to the designer’s actual page; respect their copyright. Or purchase them from a brick-and-mortar yarn shop that purchased hard copies directly from the designer. The prices we pay for patterns are a pittance relative to what it takes to create them. If a designer is really lucky they might sell enough of each pattern design to cover the cost of producing it. There are so many designs available that competition is fierce. We need these amazing, creative individuals in our world. Let’s show them some love!