Make way for Making Things

Make way for Making Things

I had this funny idea five years ago, it seems, to do a series of interviews called the 1-Q Interview, and then I apparently only did it once — one question to Julie Hoover about the value of seams. (An excellent and life-changing interview, I must add!) I was reminded of it the other day when I began to interview Megan Elizabeth, formerly of Wool Days yarn and now with a shiny new web app to talk about, called Making Things. I’d sent her an opening question and was planning to follow up with the rest, but in her infectious enthusiasm for what she’s doing she sent back a whole interview’s worth of an answer! So today I present you my second (unintentional) 1-Q Interview.

To find out more about Making Things, check the website and their Instagram feed @themakingthingsapp.

. . .

When you first got in touch with me … how long ago was that? … you were working on an online tool for reading patterns and tracking your progress. An upgrade to existing pattern readers, basically. But in the meantime, the idea has really morphed and grown. Can you share a short history of the app?

I’d been running Wool days (a boutique Australian yarn company) for 3 years, and the same conversation kept coming up with our community: I want my making world to fit snugly into my fast and crazy world, so I don’t have to leave it behind. So I can still be me.

And while I loved what I got to do every day (visiting local sheep farms, creating yarn, talking with our community) I sometimes struggled to see how Wool days was going to keep up with the rest of my world. There are too many of us who are passionate about knitting and crochet for us not to have the support, infrastructure and opportunities we take for granted in the rest of our lives. (Netflix anyone?) So being a typical “too much to do, not enough time” person, I started thinking about what it would look like.

I shared my ideas with others, because I know how I make, and what I need. But I can’t speak for everyone. Turns out others had been thinking this way too! I had some of the most wonderful, in-depth conversations with people I knew, and more importantly, people I didn’t.

It became a thing. So at the start of this year we built a thing.

It was simple and awkward. And people were obsessed. The first week, makers spent an average of 10 hours in using the platform.

Working with designers, we took a small selection of patterns and reformatted them so they were interactive. Which basically means knitting and crochet patterns were now truly digital. They adapted to your screen size, there was a sticky highlighter to keep track on the page, row counters, dual axle chart reader, you could make notes directly in the pattern, and there was a scrapbook page to document your project.

It was all just as seamless as using a pen and post-its. At least it was supposed to be.

Every day we’d get feedback on improvements, changes and things that just didn’t work. And every night we’d make it better. Some things were massive changes, and some things were quick tweeks. We were all learning how we make things, and what was frustrating about it. Wanting to knit on the train and not need to mark a dog-eared chart with multiple coloured markers. Wanting to keep making with friends, even when they go home. Or they live on the other side of the world. Wanting to support others who find deep satisfaction in their creativity. We were co-creating our dream tool for making.

We were also working really closely with designers (they create the patterns at the centre of our making world!), and it didn’t take long for conversations around recognition, pay, support and safety to come up. Designers build communities, brands, stories. They dream up, design, test, do maths, redesign, tech edit, photograph, format, market, sell, teach and tech support each pattern they create. So we started rethinking how we access patterns, in a way that celebrates all the work of designers, and creates a predictable and sustainable income — one of the most powerful drivers of creativity.

Yarn stores, dyers, podcasters, teachers, tech editors have joined in the conversation too, and they have some epic ideas. We are a creative people, not only with our hands but our minds. We’ve all thought “what if …” Now we’re building it. Together.

So that’s where we’re at! We officially launched yesterday, which means you can become a member of Making Things to access all the patterns (1000+ tech edited, tested and beautifully photographed patterns), and all the tools. Our library of patterns is now your library of patterns. Our community is now your community. Our platform is now your platform as we build this together.

. . .

Thanks, Megan — I can’t wait to see how it goes and grows!

And for anyone wondering, yes, you can find a few of my patterns there (which automatically makes that link an affiliate link, fyi). Let me know if you try it out!

.

PREVIOUSLY in 1-Q Interview: Julie Hoover in defense of seams

1-Question Interview: Julie Hoover in defense of seams

julie hoover hayward sweater pattern

Once in awhile, I make a point of eating a food I think I don’t like, talking politics with a person whose views are the polar opposite of mine, letting someone point a camera at me. I try not to get locked into my opinions, habits or worldview, in other words. People are changeable creatures, and it turns out vegetables are delicious! Anyway, I was stopped short recently by something Julie Hoover (designer of these recent Favorites) said on her blog, and so I asked her about it.

Thanks so much, Julie, for the thoughtful response —

.

Q: You recently posted on your blog with regard to your Hayward pattern: “The seams up the sides and deep raglan shoulder shaping help the garment to hold together structurally (just in case you’re inclined to knit it in the round — think twice!) and give you the opportunity to expose the seams during finishing for a more urban look.” I’m a top-down devotee, definitely inclined to knit this one in the round, from the top, but am curious what finesse or detail I might be missing. Stabilizing side “seams” and deep raglans are possible with top-down, so I’m wondering whether you could elaborate on your parenthetical above. Do you just find sewn seams to be more stable (or attractive), or is there more to it than that?

Julie Hoover: It’s a personal preference, for sure.  It’s also the way I was trained to construct certain garments — in pieces. Deciding what technique to use is subjective from designer to designer and from knitter to knitter, and there’s always a case to be made for making an exception to the rule.

I like to knit garments from the bottom up because I prefer the look of a decrease stitch over an increase stitch, visually. You might find the opposite to be true for you. There are other reasons as well, but that’s the main one.

Generally, I don’t object to a garment knitted in the round if the entire garment is knitted that way. A knitter’s gauge can vary quite a bit when knitting back and forth vs. knitting circularly, so there’s always that to consider.

As for seamless vs. seams for Hayward … I’d have to hear exactly what “reinforcement” technique you would use to replace a seam and give it a try in order to know whether I would find it as suitable as the real thing. That might sound a bit inflexible, but particularly when working an oversized garment that has stress points at the shoulders and neckline seam areas (as Hayward does), you have to think of the seams as you would the load beams that support your home. Over time, you want them to be as strong as possible. I understand that many people hate seaming, and no matter what, they will avoid it. I certainly am not going to argue with them! But for me, I love the change in pace it offers at the end of a project, to slow down and see it all come together. Most importantly, I know that after all the time it took to knit, my garment is going to have the professional finishing touch it needs to last over time.

.

And just like that: worldview challenged. I’m still seriously pondering doing a top-down version of Hayward (I bought the pattern) — and may have daydreamed briefly about the specs and benchmarks for an A/B test of seamed and unseamed versions — but I often think I should at least consider knitting a seamed garment, and this exchange has given me new reasons to think so. I might even learn to love it.

How about you — thoughts on all this?