- August 25, 2009
- tags: Knit in Public
I just pre-ordered this marvelous t shirt from the fine folks over at Wondermark. You might want to do something similar. The gentleman who designed it obviously has his priorities straight.
Sock Summit was pretty much made of awesome on all levels. I can’t possibly do it justice and so won’t try to describe it. I would blather. It would be unseemly. Instead, I’m going to talk about one tiny aspect of the awesome.
As I was getting ready to go to Sock Summit, a few of the vendors working there contacted me to ask about creating patterns for them with their yarn. I was flattered. There may have been a bit of undignified squeeing and perhaps a few goofy grins. I’ll never tell. I’m still awfully new at this, and it feels fantastic when people like my work.
We talked. Plans were made and agreements reached. I got to Sock Summit, found their booths, and wandered around molesting admiring their pretty yarns. Then, and this is the part that still feels like crime, I got to pick some out and bring it home. It was all the good parts of yarn shopping with none of those pesky bills at the end.
All of the yarns will be getting made into socks over the next few months (I might have tripped and cast one on already). You’ll be seeing and hearing more about them as they go along. In the meantime, I can say with certainty that free yarn is by far the niftiest part of this designing thing. I could get used to this!
The first Bines sock is done. The second was started, suffered a small mishap, and is now in time out for a few days while I work on something else. I finished the first draft of the Bines pattern and have sent it out to a cadre of genius test knitters who are hard at work on it as I type. I hope to have the pattern out in about a month. In the mean time, I’ve got to finish the other sock, take better pictures, and put in the corrections I’m sure my testers will have for me. Perhaps another picture will tide you over till I get all that done.
The yarn is Heather by Schaefer Yarns in the color Dian Fossey. The yarn is 30% silk, which gives it a lovely sheen, and 15% nylon, which makes me worry less about walking holes in them (I’m not bad at math, the other 55% is superwash merino). This is one of the yarns I got in return for designing a sock for Schaefer earlier this year, and I’m very glad I got a chance to use it. It’s definitely one I’ll be looking for in the future.
The socks are on sock blockers I got at Sock Summit. They are basically a sock shaped wire frame with a hanger on the top. They don’t have the cute factor of some of the wooden ones but they are awesome. Socks dry almost instantly, and there are no rough edges or splinters to snag the fabric. To top it off, they were only $16.00 for the pair. I got them at the Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks booth, but I don’t think they made them and I don’t see them on their website. If anybody knows who made them I’d love to know, and if anybody has a chance to buy blockers like this I highly recommend it.
Up next, the first of the yarn reports from Sock Summit.
- August 20, 2009
- tags: Administration
I think the time has come to explain a bit about the testing process and how I approach it. I’m doing this in part because I’m still new at this and would love to find out more about how more experienced designers do it and in part because I have gotten a few messages that seem to indicate that there are some hurt feelings when I don’t pick someone to test for me.
I find testers in a few places. Some of my testers are people who have knit my other patterns and told me they particularly enjoyed them. Some are people who left comments about the sock in progress and volunteered to test them. The majority of my testers come from the testing forums on Ravelry.
I post the call for testers in the testing forum along with information about the project. I ask people who are interested to get in touch and to provide me with some information about their sock and test knitting experience. Then I wait to see who volunteers. Much to my delight, I usually have lots of volunteers. I find it very gratifying that so many people are willing to help me with my patterns. The only downside, is that I have to make some difficult choices. I generally only need two to four testers. That is usually plenty to check for errors. Working with any more than that just presents too many organizational challenges.
So how do I pick? Well, I generally give first priority to people with whom I’ve worked before. Next, I look at the volunteers and see who might be a good fit. I tend to pick people who answered my question about their previous experience over those who didn’t. I tend to pick people who have lots of projects posted in their Ravelry notebooks over those who don’t. I try to be sure that at least half of the testers are native English speakers, though I am perfectly happy to have non-native English speakers as well. Basically, the more I know about a person’s knitting experience, either from the messages they send me or the work they show on Ravelry or their websites, the more likely I am to pick them as a tester. Even with those sorting methods, I still tend to have at least five times as many volunteers as I can use, which means I have to say ‘not this time’ to some people.
So what do you do if you really really really want to test? Well, give me lots of information to use when I’m making a choice. Knit lots of socks and be sure you’ve got them listed on your Ravelry notebook. Take and post lots of pictures of your projects. Tell me about any other testing experience you have or why your past knitting experience makes the current sock a good match for you. Our communication will be in writing, and I’m asking you to check something I’ve written, so try to show me that you can express yourself clearly when you write. Finally, if you see I’m working on something you just love beyond all reason, let me know while I’m still working on it, and we may be able to work something out.
I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings when I pick someone else. I’m always flattered when people offer to use their knitting time and their yarn to help me improve my patterns. I just can’t take everyone. I do, however, have every intention of designing more socks, so if it doesn’t work out this time please come back next time!