The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Sketches and Swatches March 18, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 11:49 pm

  I’ve been knee-deep in designs the last few weeks.  Or maybe waist-deep, since I’m sitting down a lot.  It’s that time of year when everybody is accepting submissions for their summer or fall issues.  I don’t submit designs to every publication, because I don’t control the space-time continuum (yet). 


Sometimes a design will pop into my head, fully formed.  Those designs have a 50/50 chance of actually working out the way I intend or crashing to the ground in a flaming pile of rubble, never to be seen again, as they refuse to live up to my original vision.  Cabobble and Danu both happened this way.  You’ll never hear about the piles of rubble, though.


Most of the time, I start with a vague idea of what I would like, such as a colorwork glove using greens and neutrals, and work to find the rest of the design.  Chances are this design will end up nothing like my first idea, but it usually works out in the end.  The Wintergreen Gloves and Java were more in this vein.


Other times, I will struggle and struggle to force a design onto my needles.  Nothing seems to come together.  Some people say that I’m too demanding during this process, that most of what I throw out is very good, but if I don’t like it then what’s the point of keeping it?  I’d have to finish the whole project and the work of writing up the pattern, and who wants to do that if they don’t really believe in the project?  The Crystalline Socks and Emily’s Scarf fit the bill here.


Most publications ask that you submit a sketch and a swatch.  The sketch shows what the finished product will look like and the swatch shows the fabric and stitch pattern.  I used to wait until I had a design completed- or at least one whole sock or glove- before I submitted it anywhere.  Partially I was nervous about my drawing skill in the sketch department, but I was told that the quality of the sketch is less important than the information it shows.  More paralyzing, though, was the worry that if I submitted an idea instead of a finished product, then I would end up perpetually stuck in situation three up there.  I tend to change designs as I knit them; a little different gusset, a change in the toe.  I’d be struggling to put the finishing touches on a design with a hard deadline- a sure path to a struggling pattern.


I’ve come to like the sketch-and-swatch approach now though.  I know a lot more about knitting now and don’t change as much through the project as I used to.  So now, I knit the swatch and if it looks even close to being a struggle, I move on to another idea.  Even if that means that I have to abandon a publication because I don’t like the “theme” of their issue or the yarn I’d have to use.  There are plenty of other places to go and things to do!  I design as much of the project as I can before I send the swatch off.  I’m usually pretty confident that it’ll work out.


Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I sent off two swatches to Tangled for their summer issue and heard back from them today.  They liked both designs, but could only use one.  So, this summer’s issue will have a lovely twisted-stitch sock from me in it, and the other design will be tucked away for later (likely the next time I have designer’s block!)


The coolest part of this, though?  Tangled will have a booth at the Sock Summit this year and will be selling my pattern there as well as online.  Man, I can’t wait for July!


One Response to “Sketches and Swatches”

  1. Millie Says:

    The creative processes of designing are fascinating to read about. Congratulations on being accepted by Tangled and having the pattern being available at the Sock Summit. Awesome!

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