Friday, September 11, 2015

Design Behind the Scenes, Part III: Putting the Pieces Together

This is the third in a series of posts about self-publishing knitting patterns. You can read Part I here and Part II here.

Once I have a final draft of my pattern and a completed sample, it's time to put all the pieces together to create the pattern that will actually be for sale.

One piece that's very important is the photos. I'm not a professional photographer and don't have any formal photography training, but I do my best to take high-quality, clear photos so that prospective buyers can get a good sense of what the pattern looks like. If you've looked at my shawl patterns, you'll notice that many of them are taken on a dress form, and the reason for that is because it's easier for me to get a good shot of a shawl if I'm the one behind the camera. My husband can be a great photographer, but he usually focuses on the person rather than the knitwear, so I try to use him only when I can't take the photo myself.

An outtake from an old photo shoot -- nice picture of the wall, not such a great picture of the hat

The final pattern may use only two or three photos, but to get those two or three, I might take a hundred shots (and this is where it's really wonderful to have a digital camera, because I can always delete the bad shots!). Once I've narrowed down my shots to a handful, I do some editing. I often crop out unnecessary space around the knitting and sometimes adjust the color or correct small imperfections like a strange small shadow or a piece of lint.

Another important piece to finalize at this point is my charts, if my pattern uses any. I use charting software called StitchMastery to create my charts. It is a great program because it's very easy and fast to create a chart and I can save the resulting image in a number of different file types. Once the chart is in its final state, I also finalize the written version of the chart if it's a lace/cabled/textured stitch pattern. The software will automatically generate a written version of a chart, though for me it's only a place to start; I have to edit what the program spits out so that it follows my style and format. I'm always sure to do a side-by-side comparison of the written instructions and the chart at this point, because typos and glitches do happen.

The final step is putting the pattern into a layout that combines the written instructions, the photos, and the charts. Although I've done some simple layouts on my own, I'm very lucky to have a friend who is a former graphic designer to do most of my layouts for me. She uses InDesign to create really beautiful, professional layouts (and she won't let me pay her for it, either, so I end up "paying" her in yarn and fiber, as she's also a knitter and spinner). I send her the final pattern draft (after I've done a last read-through), any charts, and a selection of photos, and she sends me back a PDF of the pattern.

At this point, the pattern is nearly ready to be published, but there are two more steps to take before I upload the pattern. I'll talk about those in the next post.

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