If you have ever wondered how we work with designers to create our pattern collections and on their own independent releases, read on!
Miss Babs works with knitting designers to create collections of designs twice a year. Each collection is built over several months prior to being released in the early spring and fall. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at how it comes together.
If you have ideas, or know someone who would be interested in designing, please contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive future calls for submissions!
The first step is coming up with a theme or idea for the collection. Miss Babs and her team think about a backdrop or concept for the kinds of projects, yarns, and colors that would inspire knitters. A concept and mood board are created to help share theme ideas with designers. Stef from Stitchcraft Marketing coordinates the call for designs and communicates with designers throughout the selection and design development process, all the way to publication.
In the call for designs, we ask designers to digitally submit a swatch and sketch for their design, as well as details about the knitting techniques and process, garment or accessory, and yarn requirements.
Once all submissions for a collection are received, Babs and her team review and discuss designs, looking for ideas that fit with the collection, are novel, will work well in Miss Babs yarns, and will be interesting for our customers to knit.
When we have selected the patterns, Babs decides if we have a perfect existing colorway for the pattern or if she will develop a new one. New colorway inspiration comes from many places, and this is one of the most exciting parts of the process! Yarn is dyed and sent to the designers so they can knit a sample and write up the pattern. Patterns are written from the samples, to make sure they work. The designers then send the sample to us for photograph.
Meanwhile, our excellent tech editing team looks over the patterns closely and works with designers to ensure that patterns are clearly written and are accurate for all sizes. The tech editor and designer work together to make sure the patterns are clear and easy to understand, and then it’s time for test knitters! Test knitters are volunteers who knit designs in a variety of sizes to help the designers finalize the patterns. Sometimes designers run their own test knits, sometimes we host the test knits. (We have a thread in our group to collect test knitting threads--we post here and welcome designers who are testing patterns in our yarns to do so as well. There aren't any open tests at the moment, but feel free to check back periodically if you are interested!)
About the same time as the patterns are being test knit, the team and I schedule and plan the photoshoot for the collection. Last fall’s collection was photographed in a library, to reflect the literary theme of the collection. We don’t work as far ahead as high fashion, but the photoshoots do take place three or more months before each collection is published to ensure we have what we need when the time comes for layout.
Our photographer works with the model and one or two assistants from the studio to make sure the garments are styled so that all the neat details are captured.
Professional photographs of the designs capture the details as well as the theme for the collection, and become part of the pattern artwork. (Fun fact: our photographer is a specialist in photographing food and drinks, so he’s really got an eye for the details!)
Once the test knits are finished we incorporate any feedback into the pattern and have our tech editor look over it again, then combine the pattern and photos into the finished layout.
Finally we send the finished PDF to the designer, who uploads it to their Ravelry store so that our wonderful knitters can purchase and knit the pattern!
Independently Published Designs
In addition to our own pattern collections we also provide yarn support to designers for their independently published designs.
We ask designers interested in using our yarn for an upcoming pattern to send us a sketch, swatch, and description of the garment to email@example.com. When we receive these emails we review them to see if they are something that will work well with our yarns and appeal to our customers. While we don't tend to include crochet patterns in our collections, we are always happy to chat with crochet designers about yarn support for independent releases.
If we think the design is a good match for our customers and yarns, we discuss colorways with the designer, sometimes picking from the existing range, sometimes developing specific colorways, depending on the situation.
Once we have selected or developed the colorways, yarn is sent to the designer. We also ask for designers to let us know a week or two in advance of releasing the pattern, so we have time to make sure the yarn is available, especially if there are special colorways. We know how frustrating it can be to see an exciting new design, and not be able to find the yarn and the colorways you want!
It's great to have beautiful yarn in stash, but it's just yarn without beautiful and well-written designs to use to work it up! We hope this glimpse into our process helps you to understand how we come up with our collections. If you are a designer with an idea you want to share, we hope you'll get in touch!