Get to know Alina

Get to know Alina

We are in the second week of the MY Make Along 2016, and it is time for the first interview with a designer! Since Alina has graciously offered her La Flor pattern as this week’s prize, I thought that it is appropriate to ask her to be the first guest. And because I want YOU to get to know her, I collected questions via Instagram and the Facebook group :) So here they are, your questions and Alina’s answers! Enjoy!

@lalrick asked: Journey is so beautiful! How long did it take to create the pattern? What did you go through in the creative process? Do you see it in your mind first? What besides the yarn inspired it?

Hi Liza (@lalrick)! Thank you so much for your questions! I am so happy to hear you love Journey sweater, this is really my favorite piece of knitwear that I've knit so far! 

How long did it take to create the pattern?

Journey' s journey, from the first swatch to hitting "Publish" button, took about 4-5 months. 

What did you go through in the creative process?

As always it's been ups and downs. The most difficult thing in the creative process was actually to slow my knitting down and take notes. I usually design "on the needles" and it is a huge challenge for me to stop knitting and start writing the instructions down. I enjoyed every single stitch in this sweater and surprisingly ripped some parts off only once, which is very very rare – I usually change my mind during the design process so many times!

Do you see it in your mind first?

I would say I saw just a "blurred" version of it, rather than a whole picture. You know, usually I don't see the final piece, but feel the emotions it should give me, as a designer, as a knitter and as a wearer, in the end. I wanted to create a modern wearable version of a classic Aran sweater that a knitter will have fun to knit and wear with pride!  

What besides the yarn inspired it?

When I touched Moeke Yarn for the first time, my mind exploded with ideas, so yarn was definitely my main inspiration. But besides that I love knitwear, words can't describe how much I love knit textile, it's really very close to obsession :) and Journey has everything that I love so much in a knitwear piece – texture and cables, my favorite technique in knitting; neutral color; folded cuffs; relaxed fit… 

@alitingma asked: I am really interested in understanding the entire process from initial idea to finished product (and how much swatching required). (@moonpurl also had a similar question)

Hi Aline (@alitingma) and Monica @moonpurl! :) Thank you for your question!

That is a great question that I am afraid can never be fully answered. What I know for sure is that every designer has its own way and there is no one "to-do" list for pattern writing. 

As for me, it's always about yarn. I start designing on the needles, always making a simple stockinette stitch first, before trying anything else. I wash and block the swatch and see how the yarn behaves. It is really important to understand at this stage what yarn can do and what it can't. I once read a very simple, but great advice from one designer – "Never try to make yarn into something it is not".

 After this stage is over I start sketching the design on a paper, and, believe me, I cannot draw at all, I am seriously the worst, but even my inadequate scribbles help me to see the final piece, at least approximately. 

Then the main swatching part starts. It is hard to say how much swatching is required… I swatch until I feel this rush of excitement inside – This is it! I've found it! And even if this "aha" moment happens, it's important for me to put the swatch aside and leave it for a couple of days. If it still feels right after that, I'll go for it, if not - I will start all over again.  Sometimes it takes several days, sometimes it takes weeks. "Journey" swatching took me about two weeks, swatches for the cardigan I am knitting right now – 3-4 weeks. 

Next step is usually to write the first draft of the pattern, just to see where I am going. It is also important to make sure that your project is "knitable" in different sizes and can be graded later. This can really change the course of your design! 

Then fun and most exciting part starts – knitting!!! Yay! And now the hardest thing is to put down the needles from time to time and write down the notes. Never ever leave it for later, because you will never remember everything. 

So, knitting and pattern writing is happening at the same time. When the piece is done, it's time to look for test knitters – amazing people without whom the pattern wouldn't be the same. Josh and Saskia, who tested Journey were so so helpful! Test knitters are very important, because they look at the pattern with fresh eyes and will see mistakes or parts that need to be explained much better than me, because I've see the draft so many times that already don't notice these things. It is also amazing to see how the final project looks on different people in different sizes.

Next step is to send the draft to the technical editor, who checks for mistakes/mistypes and if all numbers and instructions are making sense. Then I correct all the imperfections and send it back to the editor for the final approval, if everything is OK, I start working on layout, which is, surprisingly, one of the hardest things for me. I want a knitter to have all the information in the right place and in the right time, so I am playing with text/photos positioning a lot. 


Photos are also very important, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of the pattern writing, because this is the ONLY way a knitter will see the final piece. It would be great if we could all have access to trunk shows, but unfortunately we are limited to a computer's screen. So the photo is the only way to visually communicate with the knitter and it has to show everything that knitter needs to know before making a choice to knit the piece – overall look/construction/details, etc… Personally, I am absolutely in love with knitwear photography. I take innumerable amount of photos of the yarn, swatches, WIPs, details of the finished product. It fascinates me! I definitely prefer being behind the camera, than in front of it, and in my daily life I have very few photos of myself, but when it comes to knitwear, I enjoy showing the final piece. I love choosing the location and background that will show off knit texture the best. I once read on one knitting blog – "Celebrate your knit work – show it off! It deserves it". I so agree! 

Phew, I guess that is all in general… Of course, there are many minor steps in between that also take a lot of time. And of course very often things don't run smoothly and according to the plan. To be honest, sometimes I just want to give up in the middle of the pattern (it usually happens when I try to find the way to explain one thing in the best way possible and it is just not happening and I keep erasing everything for days and days!) and just enjoy my knitting, without worrying putting it into the words. But then I look at the piece I am knitting and realize how much I want others to enjoy knitting it and then I get back to my computer and try again and again until I find the way… It is so worth it in the end – my heart skips a beat every time I see somebody knitting my design… I am beyond grateful and touched when I see that a knitter chose my design among so many wonderful designs that are available right now.

I definitely have a lot to learn, but I am determined to become better in pattern writing with every project to provide the best experience for the knitter, because I want more and more people to get into this amazing craft that I love with all my heart!

@maramaakt asked: What the weirdest spot is where she ever knitted/crocheted?

In general I am very boring :) - I knit/crochet at home. For some reason I don't feel comfortable knitting in public. Fiber time is definitely "me" time. But once I and my hubby went for an amazing boat ride to see the sea lions and I got a chance to knit on the most beautiful secluded beach I've ever seen! You can see the post about it on my blog. That was so much fun! asked: Where do you find your inspiration?

As I mentioned earlier, my main inspiration comes from my immense love for knitwear. When I see a beautiful piece of knitwear, I have butterflies in my stomach. I notice knitwear everywhere – movies, streets, magazines, books… I can literally scare people on the street while staring at their sweaters and trying to decipher the stitch pattern :) To be concise, I cannot NOT knit, this is a huge part of who I am. 

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