My Crazy Process


A long-ago colleague of mine, fiction writer Lori Ericson, contacted me recently and asked me if I wanted to be part of a blog tour on different writers’ processes. I said sure, not really thinking about what it would mean to share how I work, because it’s a little crazy. Oh well, too late! I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about the knitwear designer side of me and how that process works for me.

What Are You Working On?

Lots of things, as usual, but the main consuming thing right now is a knitting book. It will be my second with Stackpole, which published my Quick & Easy Baby Knits last year.

It’s a book on colorwork knitting, and will have five different projects (hat, scarf, socks, sweater and mittens or gloves) using five different kinds of colorwork (yarn that makes stripes, stripes you make yourself, slip-stitch knitting, stranded knitting and intarsia). If you can count, you’ll see that’s 25 patterns.

It’s due in September, and I should probably be more freaked out than I am. If you need me, I’ll be knitting.

brick stitch scarf
This is one pattern that came out just right, because I knew what I wanted and love this stitch pattern.

How Does My Work Differ from Others in its Genre?

I really like for my books to be skill-building and encouraging, so a knitter of almost any skill level can pick it up and feel like if they don’t already have the skills they need, they can learn them from the book. (That’s particularly true of my baby book, because it has all the instructions to learn how to knit, too; the new one will not have all that.)

Why Do You Write What You Write?

Because people pay me. I got into writing about knitting because About.com hired me to do so, and from there it has blossomed into a passion for craft in general, sharing knowledge and making sure these skills are available to the next generation and others to come, even if their own family members can’t teach them.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

When it comes to knitting, the writing process is really the design process. I think about the skills I want people to come away from the book with. I start thinking about the kinds of garments that are going to be included and what I might want them to look like.

slip stitch knitting
This project ended up different than I expected, but I love it.

Then I start thinking about yarn, and about color. I try to make choices that will look nice together in the pages of a book, but not use the same colors too often (there’s still a lot of blue, green, yellow and magenta in this book, somehow).

When I see the yarn in person it may change my mind about exactly what I want to make with it. Or when I start swatching a stitch pattern it might not look the way I expected so I’ll make a different plan.

Swatching gives me an idea of how the yarns look and behave, and I’ll start designing in my head. I usually have a pretty good idea where the garment is going at that point, but I do a lot more designing on the needles than I probably should, which means I probably do a lot more ripping out, swearing and reknitting than the sorts of designers who write it all out on paper and then knit it.

This means I also have to do most of the knitting myself, which is why I should be freaking out more than I am. There is still a long way to go. But it’s fun, and it makes me feel smart when I get it right, so there’s that.

Next week a few of my blogging buddies have offered to share a bit about their process, so go check them out! Alex Fittin, Jaclyn Washington-House and Jacqueline Wolven are all very different bloggers who have lots to say, and I hope you’ll enjoy meeting them.

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6 Comments

  1. Sarah, I love this peek behind the curtain and I can’t wait to read more of these. It’s making me excited for our weekend in April — and inspiring me to more consistently consider myself a writer. I may just steal this!

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