Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Interview with Designer Kate Bostwick

Interview time!

As part of the Gift Along 2014, some of us are interviewing other designers. 
Kate Bostwick aka CowtownKnits, has some lovely designs included in the program. 
Gift Along 2014

Get 25% off these patterns with the code giftalong2014 during the GAL sale period - Thursday November 13th (8pm EST) through Friday November 21 (11:59pm EST).

Then come participate in the GAL - chat with designers and other crafters, play games, win prizes, and more importantly finish all the things!!!

Kate was kind enough to answer my questions about designing, her process, and more.... 
 * * *
Thanks for the great questions! They gave me an opportunity to reflect on my designing, my process, and how I feel about all of it.

1.       what makes a design work?

I think a design needs to have a two things in order to work.
1)      A point of interest. That may be an interesting stitch pattern, some colourwork, a unique shape. Just something that catches your eye.
2)      Good construction. Knitters want to enjoy working on the piece so it has to be something that comes together in a way that makes sense.
If you can take an idea and make it work within those two points, I think the design will work.

2.        what is your process like; i.e. what steps do you follow to create a design ?

I start with an idea, wherever the inspiration comes from. Then I make a quick sketch of the idea and make notes of all the important aspects of it like ease, yarn weight, shape, construction, finishing techniques, stitch patterns, etc.
After that I will start swatching, usually with something from my stash. The next step depends on whether I am going to submit the pattern to a 3rd party, request yarn support, or head to my LYS and pick something up myself. In the latter case, I will make a new swatch with the yarn I picked out to determine gauge. If I’m submitting somewhere else or seeking yarn support then I will use the gauge from the initial swatch and start doing some calculations. This allows me to make a schematic and work out whether the stitch patterns, proportions and construction are going to work. If submitting to a 3rd party or seeking yarn support, this is the point where I would put together a submission proposal outlining the idea and showing a more polished sketch and schematic.
Next comes what I think is the meat of the design process. I sit down at the computer and start crunching numbers. Once the pattern writing starts, I work back and forth between calculating and writing the instructions. I will also create the necessary charts at this time. Ideally I will have written the entire pattern before I even cast on a stitch. Once I do start knitting the sample, I do it from the written instructions, making notes along the way of where the instructions could be clearer or adding steps I didn’t think of during the initial writing.
Once the sample is done I fix and format the pattern and send it off to the technical editor. She goes over it with a fine-toothed comb and makes sure everything is correct, concise, and makes sense.
From there the pattern is off to the testers. If the testers find any significant problems or any major changes are made then I will send the pattern back to the editor for one final pass. Somewhere during all of that I will take photographs. I put it all together and then, finally, it’s ready to release to the world.

3.        how do you know when a design will be successful, or do you ever know ?

I wish I knew! I have been surprised so many times, for better and worse. My 2 best sellers were patterns that I didn’t have high expectations for, and my worst sellers are ones that I thought would do well. It can be quite nerve-racking to put a new pattern out since you have no idea how It’s going to be received.

4.        which are some of your favorite designs - ones you’re just in love with ?

Hmm… Of my own work, I’d have to say it’s the things that have not yet been published. I’m always most in love with the thing that’s in my head at the time. I have one coming out soon that I think will be my favourite for a long time though.
As far as others’ work, there’s lots. Persian Dreams by Jenise Reid is simply stunning. I wish I had more time to work on other people’s patterns because I would be all over that one.
I’m also a huge fan of both Lee Meredith and Annie Watts. They both have the ability to come up with something new and interesting that you wish you had thought of.

5.        finally, what are you working on right now that has you excited ?

Right now I’ve got one pattern in editing and another in testing that are going to round out my Powder Day Collection. They are my two favourite pieces from the collection so I’m excited about them.
I’m also mulling around some ideas for a colourful collection of sweaters I’d like to get started on after the holidays. I’ve started swatching for those and figuring out how they’ll all fit together. 
Sunshine Mitts
 Thanks, Kate, for the thoughtful replies. I really enjoyed getting to know you.

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