Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Better Together

Hello knitters!

If you've seen the latest issue of knitty, you may have noticed a (beautiful!) sock pattern called River Severn. You may have also noticed there are two designers on the byline: me, and my friend Brenda Dayne. Co-designers? This is not the norm. Designing, iterating, working, writing, and editing a pattern as a 50-50 team was a first for both of us... and man, it was FUN! Why is this kind of collaboration between geeks not more common? Oh my gosh. Everyone should do this!! Brenda and I are looking forward to many more collaborations, the next of which is already in the works.

Let me tell you a little about my friend Brenda. She is a kindred spirit. 💑 I don't say that lightly. True kindred spirits are few and far between, and I'm profoundly grateful for each one. Brenda is articulate, hilarious (often in a delightfully self-deprecating way), compassionate, brilliant, creative, geeky, and curious. If you are not already familiar with her excellent and long-running podcast Cast On, please do check it out. I love listening to her and I love chatting with her. I feel simultaneously completely comfortable and understood by her, and at the same time utterly starstruck with her. She's simply the best.

Now let me tell you how this collaboration came about. It was not exactly planned. Brenda had a lot on her plate and was also re-designing a pattern on short notice. I had some free time and hoped I could reduce some of the stress on my friend. "Hey, can I help? Want me to do some test knitting, or something?"

My role shifted from test knitter to partner when I shared some sketches of twisted stitch designs I'd been exploring. Brenda liked them enough to leverage them for the primary sock design motif. Shortly thereafter, I bought EnvisioKnit (which I highly recommend) and we were passing files back and forth, refining my explorations into a finished design.

The joint iteration process really helped each of us to recognize when we were (inadvertently) operating from within a box, and how to break out of that box. This was the most amazing thing about this collaboration. Every step of the way, one of us noticed and pointed out something that the other didn't see. Once pointed out, the other person was like, OMG, why didn't I see that?

And herein lies the magic of design collaboration. No matter how brilliant a designer you are, you will at some point develop tunnel vision. You need another mind and another set of eyes to give you those crucial reality checks.  Tech editors (like our very own Kate Atherley) are also skilled at playing this role, but if it can happen during earlier, generative phases of the design, that's even better.

So, please check out the pattern. It's available in two different yarn weights (sport, and fingering) and two different directions (cuff down, and toe-up).  Something for everyone!