Somewhere in the middle of last March I decided to enter the Malabrigo March design contest in the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry. The pattern had to be available before the end of the month, so I picked up a skein of Malabrigo, some needles, and out came The Dean Street Hat.
I wish I could say I sweated and struggled over it, but like many of the best designs it emerged with a smoothness that amazed me. The decreases for which I have been praised simply worked magically (or perhaps I should say mathematically, which is almost the same thing). This is not to say I didn’t work hard – it was virtually all I did for the rest of the month, between being my own test knitter for all the sizes (with only two weeks I couldn’t risk doing otherwise), getting the pattern written up, the photographs for the pattern and the photo tutorial taken. But somehow it flowed smoothly – everything about creating this pattern was satisfying; nothing about it was frustrating or needed the usual tweaking.
It didn’t win the contest, which – if I’m going to be really honest here – really disappointed me. Not because I wanted to win so much as I desperately wanted the skein of Malabrigo sock yarn, at that point unreleased, that came as the prize for winning. I had made the mistake of dreaming endlessly about what I would do with it before finally deciding it would be a Flared Smoke Ring Cowl by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer. So much for the best laid plans…
So now it’s 8 months later, I have a ton of Malabrigo sock yarn (but that’s another post entirely, perhaps called Malabrigo Sock Crack, or something similar), I made a Flared Smoke Ring Cowl out of it, and it turns out I won something much bigger, or at least much more important to me.
I have been lucky enough to have had some small success as a designer and knitting teacher before Ravelry, but nothing had prepared me for how incredible it is to look at photos of this humble little hat that people all over the world are making – not to mention reading their thoughts about making it! And that is the really great thing that Ravelry has given designers: even more than the ability to easily and affordably deliver my patterns to a quarter of a million people all over the world, Ravelry has given me the ability to actually connect with the people who are knitting my patterns directly. It is one thing to sell pattern out of stores – you know they are selling, but they disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again, unless you sell them locally and happen to see someone wearing something you designed. Or maybe if you teach a class using it you see people’s versions that way. If a pattern is published you know people are seeing it but….
But with Ravelry I have the amazing ability to see almost 90 Dean Street Hats that people from California to Finland have made – not to mention read their thoughts on it all. I have been able to see the hundreds and hundreds of people who are favoriting my designs or are queuing it up to make it. I have been accessible to people who want to talk about it with me, whether to tell me they loved it, or ask about something they didn’t understand. I am able to get immediate feedback on my designs and know which things I should more to the top of the design pile, and which can wait a while. And this is one of the many amazing things that Jess and Casey did when they gave us Ravelry. That I can now sell my designs directly to my customers, and interact with them directly about them is an enormous gift to a designer, and for me it all started with my dear little Dean Street Hat – the first pattern I chose to released on Ravelry as a download. It’s a free pattern, so go knit a Dean Street Hat today! As I type this there are 89 Dean Street Hats on Ravelry. I want to do something for the 100th Dean Street – maybe a contest of some sort? All suggestions gladly listened to!
I’m working on some Dean Street Mitts at the moment (because several people asked me to – see what I mean?) and Dean Street Socks, and several more items in the Faberge beaded series, and about a dozen new hats, several sweaters, and…and…
Off to knit. And to check Ravelry. Back soon!