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To Draw or Not To Draw?

There are some thoughts on Woolly Wormhead at the moment, about the design process and Ruth explains why she prefers not to be limited by the disadvantages of drawing sketches of designs before submitting them to publishers to acquire work.

I have to say that although I do sketch (badly, childishly but informatively), on the whole I agree with Ruth on this matter.
I do start with a sketch, but that is just something to keep an idea 'floating' in case I don't have time to make the thing until a year or two later. However, let me add a word of warning about these 'sketches'.

Publishers who 'accept' these as submissions, are often mistaken in thinking that we designers jump straight from sketch to finished written pattern with no stages in between, and so when we complain that deadlines don't give us enough time to complete, a publisher actually fuses the 'design' and the 'make' of a project, they only pay once a combined fee for both and so assume that the 'idea' is finished. A publisher will often say "I know someone who can knit it up in time, just hand over the pattern to them and they'll do it"

I want to say Whoaaaaa! Hold your horses there publisher, I made a series of sketches/drawings for a submission idea only....I do not have fully finished garments and written patterns in a range of sizes with instructions for someone to knit up magically appearing on paper as a 'pattern' yet!!"

This is the danger of sketching or even talking to people about a 'design idea', they think the 'idea' is what we designers are credited with, and that the idea is fully developed as a pattern and ready to go the moment the publisher says "Yay" or "Nay" to it. Are they mad....? Yes, generally they are, they only understand a finished object and a printed pattern not the stages that need to be worked to get there.

Ruth is so right to make her piece, to go way beyond swatching to have something developed.
My sadness is that I do not work fast enough, so I have the idea then get pressurised to write up a pattern without having even knitted anything. This takes out firstly the fun, and also the huge relief of being able to iron out problems as I go. It limits me, because I can only write down instructions I know to be safe, when perhaps I might have tried a new technique to see if it worked in those materials, but too risky to hand over to a 'knitter'. My happiness though, is that with my drawings, I can make a multitude of them and distribute them, and get work without wasting my time in making them all to have 90% of them rejected. As I keep saying, I submitted 13 ideas to the anticraft for their book, only 3 of which were made, and if I had made say only a couple of those ideas and submitted as FO's the chances are they might have been OK in their own right but not actually have fitted in with their stories. However, publishers should realise that my drawing is a mere wisp of an idea, hinting to them in their own language, and is in no way a finished and fully formed piece with which to run.

Also, if I finish a piece independently of any brief, and am totally happy with all my design choices, and then it gets accepted for publication, I know it is all mine and somebody approved of my ideas. If I submit an outline of an idea, to a specific brief, and then the publisher makes all the choices with regard to style, yarn, and shades and actual design of the piece, then somehow it knocks the excitement out of me, and I don't always agree with their choices but have to go with them anyway.

Often I have found that a choice someone made for me, was actually the wrong thing to do and I end up wishing I had chosen all the elements myself including the making of the project, and that is the only way designers can keep artistic control and quality in check.

Other times, I just change my mind, or find that a particular shade I had envisaged just doesn't exist and cannot be bought even as a custom dye, but a promise to a publisher for that shade can make them feel another would be inferior when in reality, if I presented them with a finished object of my own choice they might be just as happy anyway.

In conclusion, a drawing can be liberating in not being constrained by the materials in front of us and in striving to make the project we promised, we can stretch ourselves and that is a good thing.

However, in some circumstances, it can limit us to the 'promise' we made to make something look exactly the way we have drawn and it doesn't give us room to improve or go off in a better direction on the actual make.

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