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Skill + 1UP: Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.

When I thought over the last year’s worth of learning I realized I had accomplished quite a few “new” things, but nothing jumped out as particularly noteworthy on its own.  I began to realize the most monumental leap in my knitting life this past year was actually a conceptual and professional shift – I learned the craft of designing and writing patterns.  A year ago, I made up my mind to become a hand-knitwear designer.  I had been bouncing around from knitting, to weaving, to photography and back again, as career paths.  When the dynamics of skill, baby care and working from home settled down, the logical choice seemed to be in knitting.  As most artists find, my inspiration came from my own life’s adventure, and a special event for a very special little girl – my daughter’s first birthday. 

Almost exactly one year ago, I started the work on “Lil’ One’s First Birthday Dress“. 

Today, one year later, the dress pattern has been added to my ravelry store:  “My First Princess Dress” is now a reality. 

The pattern is named after my own childhood fancy dresses which my Granny sewed up for me every year for Christmas and were nicknamed  “Princess Dress” each year.  (More about that on Friday.)  The pattern includes all the details for lace borders, cabled bodice and darling puff sleeves.  It also includes details for a Christening Gown version, as shown below.  Click here to view all the details on the ravelry pattern page. 

What I am most proud of is taking the time, basically the whole year, to learn the craft of pattern writing and testing, and making the end product professional and well designed.  My husband is a partner in a software development company, Droidlinx, which develops for the Android Market, and had commented recently that the Market is like the “Wild West” – full of everything from total charlatans, to the best and brightest.  It can be tricky to sort out who’s who.  I have noticed that this analogy works for the ravelry designer stores as well.  I saw wonderful, talented designers whose fan mail for some patterns that was consistently great, and then some designers that seemed well intentioned, but the project notes were fraught with frustrated complaints and pattern pages loaded with corrections.  That’s why when I started out designing, I felt I had to “do it right”.  Like learning any new craft, I started with a few patterns that were less complicated, my Silk Tipped Toddler Tee for example, and then began working up to more detailed construction as in the Baby Rock ‘n’ Rollneck.  I took my time, and paid attention to all the details, and was grateful for my testers’ comments and support.  Along the way, I crawled the ravelry groups like crazy to see what can go wrong, and how to make it right.  I studied the Craft Yarn Council’s recommendations, and made sure to delve into my own pattern collections to discover what I felt was good, bad, or ugly about the published patterns I had used.  So here I am, officially a designer, and very happy about it!!

In the coming year I hope to add designing ladies sweaters and (crossing my fingers) make the leap into “official” publications such as Twist Collective, or Interweave Knits.  Oh, and I want to learn to make socks.  (I know, what knitter doesn’t make socks – I just never got around to it!)

Shirley Paden said, “Remember, a clothing designer is an artist”.  My First Princess Dress, is my current artistic “masterpiece”.  I had fun designing it, and though tough at times, I found it very rewarding to get it all organized and sized on paper.  So, to celebrate this year’s accomplishments, I have decided to do a little give-away:

Comment on this post with your thoughts on “princess dresses” or pattern making, between now and Sunday night, April 3rd, at midnight (EDST), and you’ll be entered to

Win a Free Copy of “My First Princess Dress”

Good Luck!

P.S. Special Thanks to “Wife Mom Knitter” who polished off her beautiful test knit in time to launch the pattern for blog week.