The majority of my shawls are listed as adjustable. If you're not used to adjustable shawls this might raise a lot of questions:
What does that mean?
What instructions are included?
Am I going to have to wing it?
Can I really use any yarn?
I love a shawl that is easy to make with whatever yarn I want to use. I personally find it frustrating to have the perfect yarn but not the right amount... either being 50 yards too short or having half a skein leftover at the end. So whenever possible I try to design my shawls so they are flexible and accomodate different yarn.
When a shawl is listed at adjustable it includes directions to make the shawl exactly as the shown sample but also to make it in whatever yarn you want. This can be different weight yarns but also different quantities. I like big shawls, but if you're a fan of small shawlettes you can still use the pattern. I prefer fingering weight yarn but you might prefer DK. The pattern still works for all these differences! So yes, you really can use any yarn you want!
Some shawls are just "repeat until you run out of yarn". Others have instructions based on using a percentage of yarn (I swear the math is easy!). To do this you'll need a scale that can measure grams of yarn. A kitchen scale works perfectly or you can purchase a cheap jeweler's scale like this one.
Here's an example: The Refraction shawl has two parts. The first section is worked until 80% of the yarn is used. When that occurs, there is a transition and then you work the second section until the shawl is finished. For the shawl, you need equal amounts of two colors. If each skein starts with 100 grams, you have 200 grams total. 200 grams times 0.8 = 160 grams. So when the shawl weighs 160 grams (or you have 40 grams unused yarn) you move to the next section. Now if you decide you want a smaller shawl, you can start the second section earlier, but as long as you don't use more than 80% you will have enough yarn to finish!
I'm not one of those folks who enjoys writing. I'm an engineer in my day job so I'm more into playing with shapes and techniques. I expect the blog to be updated only sporadically when the mood strikes me. I do know there are a lot of misconceptions about what goes into designing so I wanted to share my process.
Step 1: Coming up with and planning a design. Planning usually starts with a sketch. After sketching comes the math and swatching. Making sure the shaping works and the proportions look good. The fabric has to have the right look- not too airy or too dense and the right combination of textures. If there are multiple colors, I need to figure out how and when to swap between them.
I spend a lot of time planning because I don't like frogging for something that could have been easily avoided with planning. That doesn't mean I don't frog, that still happens a lot. Often I will start writing up the instructions so I can be my own first beta tester. For a simple design, this process might be just a few hours. For a complex design like a lace shawl or a garment this could be a whole day worth of work. A garment will also require careful grading so that the design looks the same across all sizes. Grading can easily take several hours.
Step 2: Making the sample. This often has some iterations with planning because sometimes what looks fine on a swatch still needs tweaking on the actual sample. A bulky weight hat takes about 5 hrs. A lace shawl or garment is at least 40 hrs.
Step 3: Finishing the pattern, editing, and testing. After the sample is finished, the final draft of the pattern is written and edited. The time for this varies depending on the complexity of the pattern but typically is at least a couple hours. Next the pattern is tested. This requires finding testers, working with them and then incorporating their input.
Step 4: Photography. Fortunately both me and my husband already loved photography and have reasonably nice cameras. Learning how to best show off a pattern is still something we are working on improving. Photography and editing typically takes 1-2 hrs.
Step 5: Creating web content and marketing. This includes adding pattern information and photos to websites (here, Ravelry, Payhip). Any tutorials needed for the pattern have to be created (videos, photos, and written explanations). And lastly all the marketing needs to be done which includes creating posts, advertisements, coupon codes, and a newsletter.
Total hours to create and publish a small, simple pattern like a bulky hat is around 20 hours. A lace shawl or garment is easily 3 times that.
Design Costs: Designs are not free to create. The first obvious cost is yarn. While I do sometimes collaborate with a dyer or publisher who provides yarn support, most of my designs are with yarn I've purchased. Some designs need tech editing from a professional (all my sweaters are professionally tech edited). Then there are the less obvious costs like the computer, software, camera equipment, props, web hosting fees, etc.
It is a lot of work and the pay is not all that much so I won't be quitting my day job. I do this because I enjoy the challenge and I hope you enjoy the patterns.