How long have you been designing?
I taught myself to knit during my senior year of high school in preparation for the long commute from my hometown in southern Colorado to college in Boston. I've been "designing" ever since.
I grew up in a rural farming area without a LYS, and Ravelry didn't exist yet, so I had no idea there were so many patterns and resources available. My choice was either to knit garter stitch scarves and dishcloths forever or make it up as I went. Do you know how many cool things you can make (should I say design?) with just a rectangle and a seam or two?! Purses, pillow covers, sachets, table mats…
Eventually I happened across one of the Stitch'n'Bitch books and learned read patterns. However, I never developed the discipline to follow patterns as written. If I hadn't grown up in such an isolated area that forced me to be creative, I may never have started designing.
How did you get started publishing designs?
While in school, I got a job part-time at my LYS and was finally introduced to the endless array of yummy yarns, magazines, patterns and talent in this industry. It was consuming (in a good way) and I wanted a way to combine what I was studying at school (advertising) with the craft I loved. I already had original designs, so it felt natural lay them out and offer them to the online world.
What's the first piece you ever designed (not necessarily for CEY)?
The first piece I set out to design was the Soft Linen Beret for Web-Letter 135 in April of 2010. I knit two at the same time, one to practice the stitches and decreases, the other to confirm the design was working. It was comically difficult – the lace panel up the side was my solution for a double decrease that would have required moving the beginning-of-round marker. Now I know that moving the marker would have been no problem, but at the time it seemed like an impasse.
However, I didn't feel like a real knitwear designer until finishing the pattern for the Soft Linen Wisteria top from Perennials. Designing one sweater was easy. Designing a yoke, top-down sweater in six sizes was a feat! That was for CEY's Spring 2011 collection, and I haven't slowed down since!
What pieces did you design in the Fall 2011 Collection?
In the CEY Fall 2011 collection, I have one sweater, Watercolor in Magnolia, and accessories: Delicious in Chesapeake, Painterly in Magnolia, Crystal in Ariosa, Sheaf in Woodland and Adorn in Wool Bam Boo.
What is the time line for one of your designs, from swatch to pattern to sample?
I like to sketch, swatch early and let the design grow in the back of my mind for a few weeks. Then I write a tentative pattern and begin knitting, modifying the pattern as I go. Recently I wrote a cap pattern and knit the piece in two days, all based on a few swatches from months ago. An upcoming wrap pattern took me three weeks of swatching and charting before the pattern was ready to be knit, then the knitting took a few more weeks.
Do you use test knitters?
Normally I do all of my own knitting so the design can evolve. Occasionally when the stitch and not the shape is the feature of a particular pattern, I will swatch until it is just right, then pass the pattern on to a test knitters. Watercolor was knit by a test knitter and she did a beautiful job!
What is your "design process"?
When a design comes to mind, I sketch first and write a few important design notes with the sketch. Usually I sketch with a yarn in mind because what makes the yarn special is often the same thing that makes a pattern work. Then it's on to swatching, swatching, swatching. I put the sketch and swatch away to ripen for a few weeks. Then I write the pattern and only after that, do I cast on. While knitting, I tend to make a few more changes the pattern – another reason I try to do most of my own knitting.
Where do you do your design work? What does your "creative space" look like?
I keep my notebook in my purse at all times, just in case inspiration strikes. For pattern writing, I have a desk below a skylight with all of my tools at arm's reach. My home is I decorated with yarn that is organized in cubes, just like at my LYS, with swatching yarns in bowls. I also have lots of plants, light and one very interested kitten.
Recently I started a blog to be my online space – www.my-meg.tumblr.com. It's just a place for my daily musings, inspirations and random photos. Like my real space, it's simple and full of fiber.
What is your favorite design? What was your inspiration?
"Whatever is new" tends to be my favorite, only to be replaced by the next new design. This week I really like the Kumara Filigree Cap, but I still think the Magnolia Healthy Heart Hat is pretty great. I just finished a lacy design for the Web-Letter and it might be my favorite design ever, stay tuned to see the whole thing!