Get to know Susanne
We are in the fourth week of the MY Make Along 2016, and it is time for the next interview with a designer! This week, Susanne has offered a free pattern of your choice as a weekly prize. Susanne has designed the Elena Half Hap shawl, a beautiful oversize hap-shawl that feels like a woolly hug. Beside this, she has an impressive range of designs, dedicated to both knitters and crocheters. Take a look at her work on her website and on her Ravelry designer page.
Marieke van Huet asked: Where do you get your inspiration for a new design? And which habit helps you in the design process and writing new patterns?
Hi Marieke, thank you for your questions! Inspiration for new designs can really be anything. In general though, there are two areas in which they can be grouped for me. The first one is very technique or construction based. I crave variation in the things I make and rarely make the same thing twice. This is also the reason I am a fan of 2-at-a-time knitting when appropriate and don’t do socks and gloves. I think my last pair of socks in-progress has been languishing since May 2010, although I would have to check my project page on Ravelry to be sure. Gloves are even worse, I mean, *10* fingers in total to knit? Not going to happen for me.
Anyway, I digress. New techniques, stitch patterns or types of construction keep things exciting for me and often form the start of a new design.
The second area in which I find inspiration is yarn. You have probably experienced it yourself, in a yarn store or when receiving a woolly package in the mail. The colors, the feel, the smell of a new skein of yarn, just calling out to you to drop everything you were working on and cast on something new. This urge was particularly strong when I received my first package of Moeke Yarns Elena, this yarn is just so wonderfully sheepy and textured! I was already toying with the idea of designing a half hap using a traditional Shetland construction. When I received my Elena though, the idea truly came alive, everything just clicked into place.
With respect to my design process and writing new patterns, I find it really helps to write down and work the numbers of what I intend to do, before I even pick up my needles or crochet hook. This way when I finally start knitting I work from a draft pattern, which makes making corrections during the process way easier. This also makes it possible that even when an certain idea doesn’t work out with that particular yarn or technique, I already have it written down, ready to revisit it in the future when I want to.
Brigitte Verhaegen asked: How do you choose your colors every time, on the mood you're in, or on the season, or on the pattern you are working on ?
Now that is a very good question Brigitte! When left to my own devices I tend to go for the ice-blues, bright reds, pinks and turquoise. From a design point of view though, this presents a rather limited selection of colors. Also, the bright reds and pinks are really hard to photograph, which makes these colors a tricky choice. Because of this I have changed my tactic for the past year or so: I made it a goal to pick those colors of the spectrum that were not already present in my design portfolio. This really challenges me to go outside my comfort zone and to think my color choices through. I really have to make sure the end result is both balanced and has the right amount of contrast. I also use an app to convert an inspirational photograph into a color chart, this can be helpful as well to pick a color scheme.
goddess_anna asked: How does she commit to designing a pattern with all the inspiration...
Hi Anna, the short answer is that I don’t!
At any given time I have at least several designs in the idea phase, about 5 in the “working out on paper” stage , around 10 designs on the needles or hooks and several more in post-sample phases of finalizing the pattern, editing, photography and testing. It is true that some ideas don’t make it to the end. Possibly because I lose interest, or because it doesn’t work out right away as intended. Some ideas are on hiatus because I get distracted with something new and shiny.
A prime example of that is my Linea design. I got the idea for this design in the beginning of 2014 and started knitting the sample in May of that year. I encountered some challenges in the design, put it away for a while and then got thoroughly distracted by other design ideas. It wasn’t until May 2016 that I returned to it, finished the sample and pattern and finally got it published. It may seem a fairly inefficient process , but I guess the creative freedom is what makes me tick.
Ioana asked the following two questions:
- you have a background in Industrial Design Engineering. How does that influences your designs?
As an industrial design engineer I’m not a specialist with specific expertise in a certain area. Instead I’m more of a generalist with a relative small amount of knowledge on a wide range of subjects. More importantly, I’m trained to find any knowledge I require and make it my own very fast. This combined with my tendency to get bored easily is very much reflected in my designs. You can bet that every single one of my designs contains something that I haven’t done before. Something that required me to go beyond my initial skill set and expand it in some way.
I’m also pretty certain that my education trained me to work very structured and in such a way that the results can be shared with other people easily. That is something that comes in pretty handy when designing crochet and knitting patterns!
- what advice would you give to aspiring knitwear / crochet designers at the beginning of their career? Something that would be a game changer for their careers.
Of all the advice I could give aspiring knitwear and crochet designers, this is probably the most important: approach a technical editor for assistance as soon as you have something down on paper that you think deserves the label of “pattern”. A good editor can help you create a style sheet, a tone of voice in your pattern and make sure that any work you publish is as good as it possible can be. I really want to emphasize the importance of starting out as you intend to go on. This means that if you really want to start designing and selling patterns, then take the time to get it right. The assistance of a tech editor is essential for that in my opinion. Do whatever you need to have the pattern be the best that it can be and charge for it. The fact that it is perhaps your first pattern doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a fair compensation . It will be worth it in the long run!