Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What's In A Name?

I remember in my early days of knitting marvelling at the cleverness of the craft. How amazing that someone had discovered how to create fabric with what is basically two sticks and a piece of string. And even more amazing are all of the different stitches and techniques that were discovered, created and perfected, that today are combined in countless ways to create any design imaginable.

I also remember remarking to my sister on one occasion that I'd never be able to write knitting patterns. Compared with sewing, they just seemed too complicated.

Not that I can write sewing patterns - I can barely stitch straight on a machine - but my clever sister has always been a whiz at drawing and consequently she's pretty nifty at designing.
My grandmother had the ability to simply look at a garment and recreate it, and my sister can pretty much do the same thing, not that you'd ever hear about it from her. And while I'm bragging about my family, I'll just add that my sister's marvellous creativity comes from our mum.

Being surrounded by all of this creative genius, well, you' think that I would have been adventurous enough to try designing my own knitting patterns.
But I wasn't. Truthfully, the idea almost frightened my stitches off my needles!

The first time I "designed" something, therefore, I wasn't even aware I was doing so. I had an idea of a product that I wanted to create - I was at the time knitting as a small hobby-business, which I ended up giving up because I became worn out with always creating for others and never having the time to knit myself a garment.

Anyway, I envisioned a sweet little mouse softie, with it's nose tilted to the sky and it's face framed with adorable ears. I had a similar style of toy as a child, made by my grandmother. Unable to find a suitable pattern I decided I'd just "make one up" myself - if the words design had been used those previously mentioned stitches would have jumped from my needles in terror.

It was through that "making up" process that Tea Mouse was born.

She was a popular hit, and after I closed my knitting business her pattern notes languished in my knitting folder, until I was contacted by a blog reader asking where I had gotten the pattern.
I responded that it was actually my own pattern, but (lying) I was actually about to publish it....
That deadline meant a flurry of gathering the notes - scribbled onto the backs of other patterns and various scraps of paper - and organising them into a pattern that others could understand. And then making sure it worked.

Of course it was published in time and I was surprised at how popular the Tea Mouse pattern was.
I started to publish some of my other patterns - ones that I'd also created to fit a specific product idea for my business.

But it was only recently I became comfortable with the word "designer". Didn't I need a book or two of cabled jumpers and lacey shawls to call myself a knitting designer?

I realised the answer was no.

If you have designed a pattern - well then, you're a designer. You don't need to reach Debbie Bliss status to use the word.
Just like you can be a writer without being a published novelist, or without doing it as a full time job. Or a blogger, photographer, recipe creator - anything really! You don't need to be a full-time professional to claim the title.

And why does claiming a title matter?
I guess it doesn't really. But it also kind of does.
It can be empowering - it can make you hold your head up and say hey, I did that and it's pretty cool.

And feeling better about the things you do can only be a good thing, can't it?

Patterns shown in this post: Tea Mouse, Flying Geese Block, Tiny Mushroom Motif Block

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  1. Hi Sarah. What a great post! I can completely relate to this and I agree with your comment 'but it also kind of does'. It gives you confidence and strangely, makes others more confident in you. The first time I ever heard the title artist was when my daughter introduced me to someone, not that long ago. Afterwards I questioned her and she said 'well, you got into that art competition didn't you? So you must be an artist'. I guess I am. ��

    1. Hello Dawn,
      Thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. It certainly does give you confidence - it's funny how our minds work, isn't it? And I definitely agree with the saying "if you don't value your own work, no one else will" :-)
      That's lovely that your daughter introduced you like that - and you *are* an artist - and a good one too! x

  2. I'm really glad you brought up that point for discussion. I demur whenever a dear friend refers to me as an artist, but perhaps it's time to own it instead!! good call Sarah :) xo

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Kellie. It's definitely time - your work is amazing and I'd certainly describe your quilting as art xx

  3. Good for you Sarah, I think you are very clever! Those mice are adorable x


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Maira Gall