Transcript: Mythical Makers Episode 10: Hidden Careers in Designing

Note: Mythical Makers Podcast is produced for the ear and intended to be heard, not read. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
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 Babs Rudlin: Hi there, and welcome to the Mythical Makers podcast! These are weekly ramblings from myself, Babs Rudlin, Fiery Phoenix and…
Karen Moffett: I’m Karen Moffett, Mama Dragon.
 (short musical clip)
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Karen: Welcome to Episode 10 of the Mythical Makers Podcast. Today we’re discussing some of the different business roles available in the yarn world.
Babs: So, Karen, what is on your needles this week?
Karen: Today I’m working on the um, I’m working on an old sample. Um, I’m reknitting my very first pattern that I wrote, um, because I’m going to re-release it under a new name, and uh, it’ll stand all alone, and then my yarn…my yarn…my lace, Dragon Lace Hat and Scarf and Mitts can all be released together as a group, and then also available separately on Ravelry. So…so that’s what I’m working on today.
Babs: And what, what are you calling the new pattern? The new old pattern? The new name? (both laugh)
Karen: It’s called the Silurian Scale Scarf.
Babs: I love that. I really like that. That is awesome. Uh, that’s really cool.
Karen: I had a hunch you’d know what that was.
Babs: (laughs) Yeah, I do.
Karen: I figured it was a safe bet.
Babs: Plus I like the fact that it’s very (hisses softly like a snake) ‘sssss-y’ as well. (both laugh) Which is excellent. Um, yeah, I don’t know how that’s gonna go into the transcript, but that’ll be fun! (hearty laughs)
Karen: I’ll be creative.
Babs: Sorry, people who have to try and read through the transcript whilst I’m making strange sounds. I do apologize. (chuckles)
Karen: I’ve had to be creative a couple of times already. I’m like, ‘okay, how do I write that?’ (both laugh)
Babs: No that, that’s fine. It all works, in the you know, I haven’t read a transcript, I’ve read all, all of the transcripts so far, and I haven’t read one that doesn’t make any sense so that, that’s all good.
Karen: Okay, that’s good. (giggles)
Babs: That’s a good thing. Um, this week, I am actually not knitting socks! Ah!
Karen: Ah! How can that be?? (laughs)
Babs: Which is shocking. I’ll tell you how it is, it’s because I’ve stabbed my finger so many times with my sharp, new, new sock um, needles…I actually…
Karen: Needles…you’re taking a break.
Babs: I’m taking a break from the socks because I keep stabbing myself in exactly the same place.
Karen: Oh, oh yeah.
Babs: Exactly. It’s not even like it’s a little patch of, of dots where I’m stabbing myself around and about the spot, it’s exactly the same place, each and every time. And…
Karen: Well, you know you’re consistent, right? (both laugh)
Babs: Yeah, ‘consistency is key!’ (more laughs) So ah, I’m taking a break on that and I’m actually knitting up a sample pattern for somebody else this week.
Karen: Oh!
Babs: Um, it will probably take more than a week to knit up, but um, I’ve started it, and um, it…
Karen: Cool.
Babs: …it’s really, it’s really got loads of fabulous different techniques in there. So it’s completely surrounded by i-cord, so there’s an i-cord cast on, um, the selvedge is in i-cord, and then there’s gonna be a cast off with i-cord, so that it’s completely surrounded.
Karen: I like that continuous i-cord.
Babs: Yes, it’s beautiful.
Karen: I’m a fan.
Babs: And there’s also um, the, there’s sort of, tuck stitches involved, multicoloured and it’s, it’s really got, well, you know I like texture.
Karen: That’s a lot of things going on!
Babs: So there’s an awful lot…
Karen: I can’t wait to see it!
Babs: So you can see why it’s sort of intrigued me, and why I would want to knit it…
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: …because I just love to play, and I won’t get bored, (Karen laughs) because I’ll be doing something new every, every thirty or so rows, so that’s really cool.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Um, and
Karen: Now, will I be, will I be getting a sock pattern from you today?
Babs: You will be.
Karen: Awesome!
Babs: You will also, if I’ve managed to do it properly, be getting um, a lace shawl pattern from me as well.
Karen: Excellent. Excellent.
Babs: Which is terrifying, but exciting. (laughs)
Karen: Yes, yes. That’s cool.
Babs: Uh, yeah, so that will all come through. Um, but that does sort of lead on to what we’re talking about, which is that there are lots of different jobs that need to be done in the world of yarn. It’s not ‘I am a designer and nothing else.’ It’s, ‘Well, I design and I also test, and I knit samples, and I’ve done other bits as well.’ Um, and so I thought it would be quite fun to go through all the different roles that we could think of…
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: …and just see how many we can come up with. Um, without getting into the business side of things. Just purely sticking with…
Karen: …the creative part…
Babs: …the creative. Not, not going into all the individual tutors and teachers and techniques, because you know, crochet is a different technique to knitting, obviously. Ah, but then so is weaving, you know, so we’re not gonna talk about weaving and macramé and crochet and cross stitch and all those different types of skills.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: This is, this is gonna be a list, if we can create one, of all the different roles that are to do with the creation of a finished knitted item or finished crochet item, and all the different jobs that have to happen, for us to get to that endpoint.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Does that make sense?
Karen: Yeah! Sounds great.
Babs: Now I’ve pulled together a list of, of what I’ve come up with, which is about twelve different roles, and it’ll be interesting to see if you’ve got the same ones, or if you can, can come up with others that I haven’t thought about. Um, because I think there’s a lot of people who are hidden behind the scenes, hidden away, that nobody really knows that they’re there, or understands what they do, or how they do what they do to help you get a finished item.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: So we start out with the farmers. (laughs)
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: The ones who grow the yarn. Whether they, whether they have llamas, or alpacas, or sheep or, um…what else could they have? Goats.
Karen: Rabbits.
Babs: Or rabbits. Or indeed, if they farm cotton, or hemp, or linen, or bamboo, or all those other wonderfully exotic natural fibres. So there’s, there’s a whole host of farmers, and then there’s the farming industry. So I didn’t really want to go into that too much, so I just sort of lumped those all together under ‘farmer’, which is I know, doing them an incredible disservice, because there’s again, a thousand roles within that, that heading. But in terms of producing a finished jumper or scarf, there’s a farmer. (chuckles) There’s someone who grew it.
Karen: Obviously we can’t do it without them, right?
Babs: Exactly. They’re kind of critical to the whole thing. Um, and then I’ve put ‘spinner’ in, um, as the next person. Um…now obviously, you need to, to shear the animal, and then you’ve got to actually comb it through, and that may be something that the spinner does…
Karen: Sometimes.
Babs: …or it may be that they buy it ready combed.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Ready combed um, fleece. But um, there’s definitely a whole set of tasks that a spinner will do. Whether that is an individual person with a drop spindle, or someone with a gorgeous spinning wheel, who I’m incredibly jealous of, (Karen laughs) or whether it’s a, a large company, where they’ve got massive machines that are doing this stuff on a huge scale, but there’s, they still come under, to my mind, the role of ‘spinner.’
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Um, and then I’ve got design…uh, ‘dyer’ not ‘designer’ yet, ‘dyer.’ Um, there’s fabulous people who play with mordant dyes, or acid dyes, or natural dyes, or chemical dyes, or the thousand and one different ways of putting color onto, to yarn. Now I’m sure…
Karen: And sometimes it’s dyed before you spin it.
Babs: Yes, and sometimes it’s dyed after you’ve spun it.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: So you could, you can have the natural spun yarn, which then a dyer will buy and use as a base, and then they’ll, then they’ll work that up. And then there are other times…
Karen: And usually the hand-painteds are like that.
Babs: Yeah, and you also get those really fat, chunky, and I can’t remember what they’re called…they’re still, they’re still wound up as if they’re a skein, but they’re ready to be spun. Um…
Karen: Oh! Um, top? Combed top?
Babs: Yeah.
Karen: A lot of times, combed top will be put in a braid.
Babs: Mmmhmm.
Karen: Um, and you can buy it, ‘cause that kinda keeps it…controlled. (laughs) So you don’t have a huge cloud of floof. (both laugh)
Babs: Yeah, like ‘Poof! I’ve bought the cloud!’
Karen: Yes. (chuckles)
Babs: So, you know, there’s that. And they be either plain, or they can be dyed. And then you can either spin from them or you could use them for felting, or, or other textile arts. Um, so you can switch some of these, these roles around. I’m not trying to do them in order, I’m just trying to, to think of them all. Um, and obviously you’ve got some people that just work with natural fibres, so they don’t get dyed at all. They skip out that whole process.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: They’re just washed and cleaned, and um, and then spun, so that they can be worked with.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Um, then I’ve got ‘designers,’ ha! To us at last, hurrah! (laughs) Somebody needs to create the pattern that you’re going to make! And if you’re a hobbyist and you want to make that lovely new jumper, or hat, or gloves, socks, whatever it is that you want to make, um, nine times out of ten, you’re gonna grab a pattern.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: You’re gonna go to your yarn shop, you’re gonna pick up a pattern, you’re gonna pick up some yarn, and you’re gonna go home and you’re gonna work with them. So you need a designer in there who’s gonna take the inspiration of nature, or the weather, or something, and they’re gonna turn that into a working pattern.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Which will then be sold, at a local yarn shop, or an LYS. It took me a while, when I first got online, to realize what an LYS was. (Karen chuckles) I missed it. Is that Welsh? What’s a ‘LYS?’ (sounds the acronym out as a word) It just looks Welsh to me! (both laugh) A whole language without vowels, and lots of ‘ys’ and ‘esses’. So, I’m just confused now. Oh, no, it’s a local yarn shop. So um, so mostly, the new ones I’ve seen, seem to be set up by dyers, who, who get very excited about running their own yarn shop.
Karen: Oh, yeah. A lot, yeah.
Babs: Um, so, they’ll bring in other dyers for other stock in there. It’s just an expansion of their, their indie dying business, is to, to run a local yarn shop. And it is sad, because our shops are all closing down, and you need to have them.
Karen: Yeah, we only have one. And uh, and we’ve got, I mean, our city has um, a hundred thousand people in it.
Babs: Mmmhmm.
Karen: So it’s not a small town, but we only have the one LYS. And then we have a couple of um, like, chain stores.
Babs: Yeah. Oh, yeah. So we’ve got like, Hobby Craft, but their yarn is not brilliant. It’s all acrylic. It’s just you know, you get very little high quality yarn there, it’s just mass produced stuff. And not even the nice mass produced stuff.
Karen: Right.
Babs: And then you get some really cheap and nasty stuff in the pound shop.
Karen: Mmm.
Babs: And, you know, but it’s, it would be lovely, and even our, our local yarn shop that shut down, it’s still was mass produced yarn. Higher quality mass produced yarn, so let’s, let’s give them that…
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: …but it wasn’t indie dyers. They didn’t have a section that was for, for hand dyed or hand painted..
Karen: Oh, that’s, that’s a shame.
Babs: …yarn, which is really sad. Um, because, you know, it seems to be very, very popular, and…
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: …I don’t know. They’re closing down all over the place, because people buy it online. Um, and so finding a local yarn shop is, is tricky.
Karen: And see, I prefer, if I have the opportunity, to go and see it and touch it.
Babs: I don’t…
Karen: ‘Cause I’m very touchy-feely. I wanna feel what it feels like, to know if I’m gonna like it up against my neck or something.
Babs: Yeah. You see, this is like ‘weird Babs alert.’ I like to smell it as well. Because sometimes, yeah, I know, you think I’m really weird.
Karen: No! No, I get it!
Babs: But sometimes, you’ve got the smell of sheep, if it is, if it is a real wool, you’ve got that smell of sheep, and I find that quite comforting.
Karen: Yeah. Well that’s…that’s something that Tineke mentioned when we interviewed her!
Babs: As against the just plastic nothingness that you get from an acrylic yarn.
Karen: Mmmhmm. Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, there’s just absolutely zero scent from those. Unless there’s a really nasty chemical smell, because that’s the dye.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: It’s how they got the dye. Um, and when you’ve got a natural dye, and you can see the difference with Sophie [Babs’ miniature schnauzer] as well. When I get a hundred percent wool or, or we get a really high quality yarn, that’s been hand dyed, she is all over it. She’s not throwing it around the room, but she is sniffing the heck out of that new yarn.
Karen: Because it smells sheepy.
Babs: Because it smells sheepy, and it’s got all these natural different scents built in, and, you know, whilst I’m not a schnauzer, I…have a nose.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: And so, I don’t just like to squish, and of course, I love to squish yarn, because it is…
Karen: Because, who doesn’t?
Babs: Exactly. It’s a very satisfying, comforting thing to do. And um, and it’s just this extra layer of that, is, do I like the smell of it? Because, I don’t particularly want to take it home and run it through the washing machine, with you know, really strong smelling fairy type detergent…
Karen: Right.
Babs: …you know, and then I’ve got something that isn’t remotely wool, I’ve just got a felted mess. So, I will want it to smell pleasant enough that I’m going to want to be wearing it.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: So, a local yarn shop is incredibly important for all sorts of reasons.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Not least, um, raising your awareness of the fact that people do enjoy knitting, and yarn, and all those other crafts.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Um, another, do you wanna come up with a role? I’ve still got my list that I’ve been ticking off.
Karen: Well, we, we’ve talked about several, um, I mean obviously, you’re gonna want a tech editor to go over your pattern, um, as a designer, that’s something that’s really important. Um…
Babs: And I think that is definitely a hidden role, that people just don’t even appreciate.
Karen: Yeah, that one’s definitely not out in front, so people who don’t go through the designing process sometimes don’t even know that that’s a thing. Um but, but uh, yeah, it’s um, most reputable tech editors have gone through at least some sort of training, um, to, to know what to look for, and you know, how to help, how to help the designer put out the best possible pattern.
Babs: Exactly. I mean, if you are going out to buy your pattern with your yarn, you expect the pattern to work. You expect the, the number of stitches to add up, you expect that it will fit, when you’ve finished it, and you expect that, that all of the instructions are gonna be nice and clear and don’t have any missing instructions.
Karen: And just because you’re self-publishing a pattern, doesn’t mean that it should be rubbish. You know.
Babs: Exactly.
Karen: Whereas, I don’t know, I think there’s less of um, there’s less of a negative attitude towards people who self-publish knitting patterns, than there is towards people who self-publish a book, per se. You know what I mean?
Babs: Yes.
Karen: Um, it seems like there’s that negative kind of, ‘ugh, you know, they couldn’t get an actual publisher to do their book, so they’re self-publishing.’ But it’s very, very common for knitting designers to self-publish.
Babs: Yes.
Karen: Um, so, but just, just because it’s self-published doesn’t mean that it should be garbage when you put it out there. So it needs to go through that tech editing step. And then, um, following right on the heels of that is the test knitters. Some people do it the other way around, but I prefer to send it to the test knitter first, or, to the tech editor first, and then send it to my test knitters, so that hopefully the tech editor will have caught, you know, some of the really obvious stuff. So my test knitters don’t go, ‘ugh, okay, what happened here?’ (both laugh)
Babs: That is, that is what I, that’s what I prefer to do as well. If um, since actually using a tech editor, I much prefer them to pick up all my, all my mistakes, and my silly idiosyncrasies, and you know, anything that I have miscalculated. I’d much prefer my tech editor to find that than, than my public, which is basically what testers are. They are an, an arm of your public, your, your audience. And so I’d rather not…
Karen: Yeah, they’re usually followers.
Babs: I’d rather not proclaim to the world I can’t count to ten. (Karen giggles) Um, I’d rather my tech editor, who’s kind of on my side, would realize that I can’t count to ten, and will very tactfully point it out to me, or indeed laugh hysterically while telling me for the fifth time. (Babs laughs) So, I’d much rather it was done in, in that way round, so that I look slightly more professional for my testers, than I might otherwise if I just threw it straight at them. And then you’ve also got um, not following on from testers, but they’re sort of like testers, and that’s sample knitters. So if you’ve got a designer who is incredibly prolific, and they’re just cranking out patterns, at a rate of knots, there’s no way that you can keep up with knitting that many things.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: At the same time. I mean, I’m fast, but I’m not that fast. I’m not superhuman. And if you try to knit samples for everything, plus test everything, plus write new designs, plus launch your patterns, plus having a life of any sort whatsoever, (Karen laughs) you can’t do all of that…
Karen: Oh ho, we can’t do that.
Babs: No, you can’t be having a life. No, if you’re, if you’re putting out patterns every other week, for example, then you’ve got to have things as every single stage simultaneously. And you cannot, in a two-week time frame, knit a jumper.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Or, you know, you can’t knit multiple pairs of socks.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Which is basically, well, that’s the quickest thing that I can make. Actually no, that’s a fib. But the quickest pattern for me to turn out, in terms of…
Karen: Designing.
Babs: …it’s a…designing, it’s a set pattern for me to follow, the quickest way for me to get a professional pattern out, is through socks. Um, I’ve really managed to, to tighten up on that process.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: But for me to be able to do two patterns a month, or one every other week, which is perfectly possible to do, but you have to use sample knitters.
Karen: Yeah. Now see, that’s something I haven’t done before. I haven’t, I haven’t been a sample knitter.
Babs: Ahh!
Karen: And it’s, it’s something that I would like to try, ‘cause I feel like um, it’s a little bit closer working with the designer than, than it is with a test knitter.
Babs: Yes. I think it is. It is.
Karen: Is that right? ‘Cause you’ve done sample knitting before, right?
Babs: I have. I’ve done sample knitting. I have to say that I’ve done sample knitting for the love of doing it, rather than being paid, and generally sample knitters would be paid.
Karen: Right.
Babs: Um, and I think they are normally paid by, I think it’s by the yard.
Karen: By the yard, mmmhmm.
Babs: So depending on how much yarn you’re going to use is how much you would pay. And, and that’s quite strange. It’s quite a weird way to think about things, the first time you’re exposed to it, as a designer. To try and work out how much it’s gonna cost you to have somebody knit up a sample of work.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Especially as I used to, historically, I would charge my time by the hour, or by the fifteen minutes.
Karen: Right.
Babs: At the very, very smallest amount. So then, when trying to work out how long it’s gonna take me to knit certain patterns, and how much yarn. It’s just, I can’t be bothered, I can’t work that out, it just sounds too complicated, I’ll just knit it because I like knitting and I want to knit that thing. It’s like testing, but not. Um, and, and it’s just, it’s just a different part of the process.
Karen: So is there more back-and-forth between the designer and the sample knitter than there is…I mean, how do, how do you feel sample knitting is different from test knitting? The process itself.
Babs: Well, sample knitting, you’re not actually expected to do anything other than produce the thing.
Karen: Right.
Babs: So, you’re not really expected, it’s not part of your role to then go back through and say, ‘well, there’s a typo here, and that pagination’s wrong, and I think it would be nicer if you put it in this order.’
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Now, you could share that information, if that’s the kind of person you are, um, and I have to say, I have gone back and said that there’s a typo here, and there’s something else that your tech editor didn’t pick up there, and you know, there’s a couple bits that probably would benefit the pattern if you just tweak them slightly. And I’ve gone back with different questions. Um, because that’s what I’m like as a person. But as a sample knitter, it really is just a matter of, here’s the yarn that we’re using, here’s the pattern that you’re using, put them together and give me the thing at the end. Make the thing and then send it to me. They don’t have to do photography, they don’t have to share works in progress, they don’t have to do any of that stuff. They literally just have to knit up or crochet up the thing.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, so it, it’s generally expected that a sample knitter would be a fast knitter or crocheter, they would be fast at what they do. And test knitters have a window to, to test in, um, but sample knitters get a much smaller window, where they’re just expected to sit there and you know, crochet or knit their little hearts out until they’ve got the finished piece done.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, you know, there is no sharing, there is no linking up of projects after the pattern goes live, there’s none of that post stuff that’s to support the designer. It’s just literally, I gonna pay you by the yard to make me one of these things, and then they will make it and then post it back to the designer, so the designer can then photograph it…
Karen: And crank it out as quickly as you can.
Babs: And crank it out. Absolutely, that’s what it’s all about. Because some designers cannot complete the pattern until they’ve got their sample back.
Karen: To make sure that everything’s right.
Babs: To make sure that they know the sizing…
Karen: …and the yardage…
Babs: They can do the final weights, calculate the yardage, they can then actually accurately map out, once they’ve blocked it, the (tap, tap, tap) the dimensions.
Karen: The finished measurements.
Babs: Yeah, that it actually needs to be. And again, I would suggest that the sample knitter doesn’t block it, because the designer knows how they want it to be blocked.
Karen: Yeah, I didn’t think of that!
Babs: There’s a new Halloween design, there’s a new Halloween design that I’m working on, which is a spider in a web, for a shawl.
Karen: Awesome! Yeah.
Babs: Which is really cool. I’m really excited about that.
Karen: That sounds really cool!
Babs: I’ve just spent a couple of days making just mini shawls with bits of spider on them (Karen laughs) to work out how to overlay the spider…
Karen: That’s fantastic, I love it!
Babs: Until that’s made up, I won’t know what the finished size is. But, I don’t want it to be blocked evenly. I don’t want it to have even spikes coming off the bottom of the um, off the bottom of the web. I want it to be random and, and unexpected, because the, the stitch that I’ve chosen for the web is actually random and unexpected. It isn’t. It does actually follow a proper chart you can replicate and repeat, but the way the chart’s been written, it looks really random. And so that’s what I want the finished piece to be. So it will be blocked to a triangle, but then it will have bits pulled out to different depths, to give a more ‘webby’ look and feel to the whole thing.
Karen: Yeah! That sounds cool!
Babs: So I couldn’t actually ask a sample knitter to do that for me. I would have to block the piece myself.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: So I’d need to have it sent back from the sample knitter, if I was doing that, um, and then, then I could finish up the pattern and then get it over to the tech editor and then get it out to the testers.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: So, sample knitters are very important um, if that is something that a busy designer decides that they want to do, to free up some time.
Karen: Yeah. And that definitely is a behind the scenes thing.
Babs: Yeah.
Karen: Because at least with test knitters, you know, like you were saying, they have the uh, the work in progress and finished, finished object pictures that they share, a lot of times, on Instagram or Facebook.
Babs: Yeah. And they get thank yous and they get shout outs from designers.
Karen: Sure.
Babs: And so you know, that’s, that can be quite cool. Another hidden role is that of a ghost writer. Um, and so they will take a sample, and they will take your scribbled notes, and they will turn them into a pattern. So if you’re…
Karen: See, I didn’t even know that was a thing.
Babs: (chuckles) It’s a thing, yes! It is a thing. Um, so if you are nervous about creating your own patterns, or if you are busy, and have the budget to be able to pay a ghost writer, in the same way that you can pay a ghost writer to write your biography or your story, you give them outline notes and then they go away and create the finished thing. You can do the same thing with a ghost writer. So if you, if you can make the piece, and send your notes to, it’s generally tech editors that offer this as an additional service, or as a, a different type of service.
Karen: Oh, okay. That makes sense.
Babs: And then, then they will take your notes and your sample and they will work out…
Karen: Write up the pattern for you.
Babs: And write up the pattern for you.
Karen: Nice!
Babs: Um, so that is a wonderful complimentary, not free, but complimentary as in, it matches, merges well with other services. That’s a, a brilliant role…
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: …that people have. And so again, if you are cranking through a lot of patterns and you’re just this bubbling pot of inspiration all the time, (Karen laughs) and you just scribble out notes, make up a sock, scribble out notes, make up a hat, scribble out notes, make up a scarf, and then you just send them all over to your ghost writer, who will sort and wade their way through your mad notes, and your finished piece, and then send you back a completed pattern.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Uh, which you can then take through the rest of the processes that need to be done.
Karen: That sounds like, I saw a meme a couple days ago that said, that moment when you’re cleaning, and you pick up your yarn to put it away and you suddenly have accidentally created a hat. (both laugh)
Babs: ‘I don’t know how it happened!’
Karen: Yeah, you know, so then you just send it away to the tech editor and say, ‘Here, write up this pattern!’
Babs: Exactly. Now make a pattern. I did this, now make it, make it real. Make it a thing. (more laughs) So again, a very hidden role. There are quite a lot of hidden roles that people just don’t think about. Um, of course you’ve got people who make finished items, and sell the finished items, not just hobbyists who um, who make for themselves and you know, their aunt and uncle and cousins and nephews and nieces and little babies and all that. You, you’ve got people who actually turn up at church fairs and at the hospitals and all sorts of other places with finished items, whether they’re for charity, whether they’re donated to zoos, because you’ve simply got no more room. And did you know that was something that zoos always love to get? Is, if you’ve got any crochet or knitted, knitwear? Because they give them to the ah, the great apes.
Karen: Somebody has to keep the snakes warm? (both laugh)
Babs: No, no! The great apes! I don’t care about keeping snakes warm. Yeah, they can get warm, get cold. They’ve got lights. No, they give them to, give them to the gorillas, and orangutans…
Karen: Huh!
Babs: …and they give them crochet blankets to play with. And, and jumpers. And it’s amazing! Because they get close to actually putting the jumpers on!
Karen: They should teach them how to knit!
Babs: It’s quite bizarre. Now I don’t know that you want to give a three-hundred-pound animal, that you know, can break you just by looking at you, really sharp pointy sticks.
Karen: Yeah, maybe not.
Babs: But, you know, they really enjoy playing with…
Karen: Well, that’s cool, I didn’t know that.
Babs: So ah, so if you have a huge abundance of, of things, and you can’t give any more to charity, or you can’t give any more to the homeless shelter, um, zoos will always take it, because they’re always looking for interaction and inspiration, enrichment, is the word I was looking to use, is they’re always looking for enrichment for their guests, their animals.
Karen: I know, our local animal shelters like to get blankets and things a lot. Um…
Babs: Absolutely.
Karen: …and even the uh, even the vets occasionally like to have those for, just to put in the cage for the ones that have to stay overnight for something. A procedure.
Babs: Exactly. I mean, there is always someone, somewhere, who can benefit from samples that you’ve knit up that you don’t want any more, or um, things that you’ve made that you just don’t like any more, they’re really old, but you can’t bear to just throw them away, but you don’t think anyone’s gonna buy them, purely because they’re really old, but there are so many other places that can make use of them. They absolutely can make use of them.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, and of course you then have people who create the most gorgeous things, and then sell them, at craft fairs and, and so on. Um, and they’re finished object makers. They’re FOMs. (both laugh) So many acronyms, it’s insane. But um, yeah so, they, they make the, they make the bags, they make the hats, they make the gloves, they make the sets, they make the blankets, the baby sets, and all this kind of stuff, and they thoroughly enjoy themselves, but it just isn’t for me. To make five of the same thing is just not for me.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: So to be able to make a living at making enough of everything to be able to have a stock and to sell it, I’d just go off my nut. I just can’t do it. Um, you know, I can probably make one or two of a thing, and then I’m like, I just need the next one now. I don’t wanna do that one thing again and again and again.
Karen: A new pattern. Yeah. Yep.
Babs: So yeah, that’s not, I considered it, for a while, I thought about doing that, but it just, it just was not a fit for me. So, um yeah.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: Then there are other people that absolutely love it. They find the thing that they make, whether that be bunny hats to put on eggs, boiled eggs… (Karen giggles) There’s a massive market for bunny hats to put on boiled eggs! I mean, who knew, but there is! And you know, so there’s loads of other quite bizarre things like that…
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: …and you can just make, you can just knock out loads and loads and loads of them and just sell them at craft fairs and fun, fun days and school fairs and things like that.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, so there’s a whole, a whole industry for, for creating finished things, and then there’s creating bespoke things for somebody who doesn’t have the skill to knit or crochet something themselves. I want something for my baby, can you make it? It needs to be this, this, this, and I want these colors and I want this yarn, and uh, and someone goes away and makes it for them. Um, and then the last thing I’ve got on my list, are notions makers.
Karen: Mmm. We need those! (both laugh)
Babs: We absolutely do! We need our jewelry for our yarn! I mean, come on! But there’s, you know, again, it’s not just stitch markers.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: You know, you’ve got beautiful crochet hooks, you’ve got custom knitting needles, you’ve got circular knitting needles, you’ve got stitch keepers, you’ve got cable needles, you’ve got project bags. And we all know I love a project bag.
Karen: Mmmm.
Babs: And, you know, and it just goes on and it goes on. And having a decent wool needle as against an embroidery needle that’s got a fat eye. The difference between a big eyed embroidery needle and actually a wool needle can make when you’re trying to weave in those ends, you don’t want to be cutting through all the threads with a sharp embroidery needle.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: You want to be weaving through with the gentle point of a wool needle.
Karen: Yeah.
Babs: And so, there’s again, a huge industry around notions, for the various bits and pieces that we need to, to be able to make the things with the patterns that we’ve created.
Karen: Yep.
Babs: So yeah, I think we’ve hit quite a few jobs and roles, and…
Karen: Lot of stuff. It’s, it’s surprising how many of those things are really behind the scenes.
Babs: Yes.
Karen: So people don’t, people who aren’t part of the designing process don’t necessarily think of those roles.
Babs: Yeah. But they are really important.
Karen: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.
Babs: So I hope that people will have enjoyed this little discussion, (Karen laughs) and it may have given, may have given somebody an idea for a job or a role…
Karen: Something they might wanna try.
Babs: …that really, you know, takes their fancy. So if that’s the case…
Karen: I actually would like to try sample knitting sometime.
Babs: Oh, it’s fabulous. (laughs) I’m sure…
Karen: ‘Cause I love test knitting. I love to test knit for other designers.
Babs: Well if, if you put it out there that you want to do sample knitting, I’m sure you will have people biting your hand off to be able to say, yes, please do this for me. (Karen laughs) I don’t wanna do this anymore, just knit up my sample. And um, yeah. So that will be really cool. Because the whole point is that they’d send you the yarn, they send you the pattern, and then they’d say, just make it.
Karen: Do the thing!
Babs: Make it so, make it so.
Karen: (chuckles) There ya go.
Babs: So um, yeah. Please, drop a note in the, the comments, if there is something that’s piqued your interest, if there’s a role that you didn’t know about, or that you’re, you’re intrigued to find out a bit more about. Um, I’m sure we could actually get interviews with somebody who does each and every one of these roles.
Karen: Mmmhmm.
Babs: Um, if that’s of interest. And let us know who you’d like to hear from because, yeah, there’s oodles of people doing all these jobs. So ah, let us know, and we will book somebody in!
Karen: If you enjoyed our episode, um, please let us know in the comments, like, and share with your friends so we can get some more um, yarn-obsessed people joining our group, and we’ll talk to you next time! Buh-bye!
Babs: Bye!

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Bye for now,

Babs    &  Karen 

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