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Learning from my process errors

design learning swatch

Figuring out your process, in any creative endeavor, can be frustrating. Especially when it feels like it works…but just not quite how you want. Maybe it’s slower than you’d like or it seems disjointed or you feel that you have to go backwards in order to keep moving forward. I had the same issue with my design process. It took me a few months to finally figure out, but I have learned (not too painfully, but slightly begrudgingly) that I do, in fact, need to swatch before starting a design or pattern.

I had been hitting…process blocks recently. Work flow just wasn’t there and I couldn’t seem to hit a rhythm, project to project. Reflecting on what was frustrating me, I realized that in an attempt to figure out my workflow I was actually making it all harder for myself. Let’s dive in.

I am not always a patient person when it comes to knitting. I want to just start projects and get going, which means I usually skip swatching. Sacrilege, I know. I’m fortunate that most of the time (whenever I do swatch) my natural way of knitting is the right gauge, so I don’t think this helped form a swatching habit. In designing, I have found that when I pick up the needles and just start knitting, making the pattern as I go (while taking detailed notes), feels really good and I’m happy with the garment. However, this method makes writing the finished pattern difficult. Why? Well, because I didn’t swatch or make a gauge. Now, I have to go back, make a swatch and figure out the gauge after I’ve already made the garment. It’s a little backwards.

Having gone through the process that mostly works, but not quite how I wanted, I now have a better understanding of what was missing and how the process needs to change. So now I know that I need to make swatches. But, at least I know now what the main cause of my process blockage was. Am I upset that I might have to redo some of the projects? I certainly was when the revelation was fresh, but now I’m viewing it as an opportunity to test the patterns and I’m much more happy with swatching. I think had I forced myself to swatch from the beginning, I wouldn’t have the same appreciation or understanding that I do now; that’s the benefit of learning from a process that doesn’t quite work.

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