Book Review: The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey

I suppose it’s only right that the first book I  review be the book that inspired me to start a blog.  I’ve had Shannon Okey‘s slim, conversational, and extremely helpful book on my wishlist for quite a while.  As I hoped, I received a copy for Christmas and immediately devoured it.  I won’t claim to have read every word (because, well, I haven’t), but I have learned a lot of useful things.

One inescapable conclusion was that if I wanted to take this new knitting design thing that I’m doing seriously, I had to embrace social media.  Over and over again, Shannon and the designers that she interviewed emphasized how critical it is for a designer to have a web presence. There’s just no getting around it.  Certainly I expect to be able to find out about a pattern and it’s designer online, and I’m frustrated when I can’t.

In short, consider this new blog, as well as a new Remily Knits FaceBook page, proof positive of “message received.” (I’ve been on Ravelry for a while now.)

Aside from being strong-armed into joining the 2000’s (yes, I realize I’m a decade late to the wonderful world of blogs et al.), I was also glad to learn that a lot of my instincts so far had been right on.  Part of being a professional is, well, acting like a professional.  This means formatting emails and spelling words correctly, it means communicating clearly and in a timely fashions, and it means being polite at all times.  It means reading proposal and pattern guidelines closely, and checking twice to make sure I’ve followed them. Being professional means being careful about committing to deadlines, doing my level best to complete what I’ve promised, on time, and if I know I can’t or even think I might not be able to meet a deadline, I must tell the people waiting on me as soon as possible.

The book also provides a good outline of the design process: from “idea in my head” to published pattern can be a long road. I have (mostly) figured out the process on my own over the last year — designing, swatching, sample knitting, test knitting, tech editing, and more — but it is good to read that what I think is true mostly is.   The book includes great lists of online resources and software useful to the knitwear designer.  The most important new thing I learned was that I should be reading contracts much more carefully, and that it’s ok to ask for changes.  (It simply hadn’t occurred to me that this was even possible.  Next time a contract says that I will bear the full responsibility if the sample knit is lost in the mail, I may ask the company to alter that part!)

I know I’ll come back and re-read the interviews at least a couple times — there will be more to glean, as I get more involved in designing.  There are several topics that don’t apply to me just yet, but maybe someday they will (a book? really? a girl can dream!).

Rating: 5 of 5 DPNs

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