Tag Archives: interview

Meet my new tech editor!

Apologies to my German readers, this post will be in English./Entschuldigung für den Beitrag auf Englisch.

It is already the end of January, and I am only now writing the first blogpost of the year! There never seems to be enough time for everything – and for me writing definitely often gets the short end of the stick. Right now I am working on a few very exciting projects. I will be able to talk about them soon, so please do check back in!

I am starting into 2016 on the blog with something that I don´t do too often, even though I always enjoy it tremendously; I have an interview for you all! James Bartley is my new tech editor and a very fascinating guy. He is a mathematician who used to be a professional dancer. Also, he has a knitting podcast that you can find as “DancingGeek Podcast” on Youtube and iTunes. On Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram he is using the alias dancinggeek as well.

James was really generous with his time and answered all of my many questions – and the best is: He is accepting new clients. So if you are a designer looking for someone to check your knitting patterns make sure to get in touch with him.

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Hi James, thank you for taking the time to talk to me on my blog. Let´s tell people a bit about you. To start things off, how did it come about that you became a knitter and when was that? I first tried knitting thanks to my Mum, who was very talented and multi-craftual! It wasn’t until many years later, when I saw my sister knitting, that I tried picking it up again. That was about 4 years ago, and I’ve been hooked since then.

What things do you knit the most often, and do you have any favourite colours? I’m pretty sure I must have knit more socks than other projects, I know they’ll get worn lots, they’re a smaller project, and the complexity can vary to suit all moods. I love knitting blankets on my giant 27mm wooden needles, but don’t do it too often as it needs a lot of yarn and then I have to find a home for the finished item!

My absolute favourite colour is orange. It’s vibrant & warm, reminding of the sunny Mediterranean, citrus fruit, pottery & clay. All earthy, warm and joyful things for me. I love to see it mixed in with blue, green and brown. Those four together cover my entire wardrobe, I suspect.

Which designers do you like? I really like geometrical patterns & textures in knitting, so a couple of designers that pop to mind are Josh Ryks & Anthony Casalena. They both do a lot of beautiful shawls that make me wish I liked wearing shawls more often! If I knit more jumpers I would make them based on their shawl designs.

Do you have a local knitting group that you attend? There is a local knitting group that I went to a few times, but I find it difficult to knit and socialise at the same time. I love to get engrossed in my knitting and the patterns, so trying to hold a conversation at the same time really stumps me. That’s why I love Ravelry, podcasts, and the online knitting community in general. That and I’m a big nerd!

You have a popular knitting podcast. What are your experiences with it, and are you planning on recording new episodes this year? I really struggle to think of my podcast as being popular, though I’m lucky enough to have meet some wonderful people who pay me lovely compliments on it. It was originally started as a way of joining the community, as I find forums difficult to engage with, and it has been such an uplifting experience. I have said this many, many times: the online knitting community is the nicest place I know.

I’m always thinking about the next episode, so I’m always planning on doing another. I always want to do more, both in number and content, however I’m learning that I have limits on what I can achieve without burning out. I’ll keep recording, even if the gaps between episodes vary sometimes.

Which part of your podcast gets the most feedback? The stuff that gets the most consistent feedback is when I talk about my personal life. The knitting side is what binds us together (who doesn’t want to look at pretty yarn, right?!) but I consistently find that it is when I talk about myself that I connect with people, who then write some amazing messages to me.

Do you have any hobbies other than knitting and podcasting, and what´s your professional background and career path, I know you´ve changed directions quite a bit? Hobbies wax and wane for me, right now I’m thoroughly obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons! Others include foreign languages, maths, dance & running. And anything online.

My career path is not a traditional one for sure; I left uni with a degree in maths, fluent in French, & time spent studying contemporary dance. I then went and did customer support for software for schools, obviously! Following that I had some time out and changed to working as a freelance contemporary dancer and lecturer. After a while, my obsession with knitting started to take over, and I have recently turned professional as a Tech Editor for knitting patterns. It may not look like it, but these jobs are all connected by a love of patterns and systems. I love to be a nerd, I just change which domain I’m in.

How did you decide to start a tech editing business? Deciding to Tech Edit came through coming into contact online with a wonderful lady called Joeli, from Joeli’s Kitchen. At some point she mentioned that Tech Editing would probably be a great fit for me and I was curious, I’d never heard of this work before. I started to find out about it, had some great conversations with her, and after working through her exercises realised that it was something that I could really enjoy and be good at. The idea that someone would pay me to do this was perfect!

Why do you enjoy editing patterns and does your math degree come in handy? Editing patterns is so natural, that I do it whenever I follow one. It didn’t occur to me at first that other people don’t do this! I’m always checking details, making sure the numbers work, and asking questions when something seems wrong. I’m a perfectionist, which has its downsides, but makes editing fun! Mathematics uses the same skills, if more abstracted. It’s about making sure every detail works, and makes sense together, otherwise the whole thing could fall apart. If it wasn’t such a fun puzzle I imagine it would sound quite stressful.

Since I am enjoying the random question section your your podcast very much, here are two very random questions for you.  What invention would you like to see happening next, knitting-related or not? Oooh, great question! I think it would be awesome to be able to teleport. I love being abroad, but I hate traveling. To be able to just appear somewhere immediately would be amazing! Spend a few hours in Kenya, a day trip to Australia, a meal in a different continent. The internet does a lot to make the world a smaller place, but there’s something special about physical presence still.

Who would you like to talk to if you had the opportunity and what would you say? Who to talk to? That’s tricky. World leaders, late family members, admired performers. How to choose?!  I’ll go for my future self, so I can ask if everything works out ok. Life can be hard, so a little reassurance would go a long way!

Thank you James for taking the time to answer all those questions and for making it a fascinating read!

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who´s designing here?

Brandie_14aToday I´d like to tell you a bit about my co-designer, or the mastermind I should say, of the Rivulets sweater from my previous post. That is, she´ll do the talking herself. I was lucky enough to meet Brandie through one of the very first designs I ever made, she was one of my test knitters (have a peak at her Siris scarf of Doom!). Since then we´ve become friends, and as a translater and reviewer, she´s been helping me out with quite a few tech edits of knitting patterns. She´s also one of the kindest and smartest people you´ll ever come around. So, let´s hear from her about how she´s experienced our collaboration on the Rivulets sweater:

 

Brandie, you are not a professional designer, was this the first hand-knitted design you have ever worked on?

Absolutely! I have been knitting for a long time now, but always from patterns. I have occasionally had ideas for pieces I would like to knit for myself from scratch. But I am an impatient person, so I had never taken the time to experiment with my yarn and needles. Truthfully, I was afraid of the frustration that would come from failure. My tendency was to prefer the “safety” or “guaranteed results” you get from a good pattern.

Do you do craftsy or creative work in other areas?

My craft obsession before knitting was card-making. I have an enormous collection of gorgeous papers, stamps and inks that is sitting idle at the back of my closet. But sice I started knitting, I haven’t invested much time in other creative pursuits. It seems I am a monogamous crafter: one hobby at a time!

How long have you been knitting? And what do you like to knit most?

I have been knitting for around 10 years. My knitting personality is similar to my travelling philosophy: I like to go somewhere I’ve never been. This means I’m usually drawn to projects that feature something new to me, whether it is the garment type, construction, stitch pattern or yarn. I especially enjoy making sweaters because I think they are the ultimate reward for a knitter, but lately I have been really drawn to hats because there is so much variety and they are always quick projects!

What was your source of inspiration for the Rivulets sweater?

I once owned a sweater whose shape was similar to the silhouette of the Rivulets sweater. It was my favorite piece of clothing and I wore it with practically everything – skirts, capri pants, sundresses – in the spring, summer and autumn. It was my dream sweater, but it eventually had to be retired and I longed for a replacement.

How did you come up with such a stunning stitch pattern?

I had a very specific goal for what I wanted the Rivulets pattern to evoke: drops of water that stream down and merge with other droplets. I wanted it to flow and undulate. The only way to figure it out was to start experimenting. Because I don’t do much lace knitting, I wasn’t even familiar with how to make eyelets! I browsed through a lot of stitch dictionaries at the library, and noted the stitch combinations that yielded the kinds of effects I was aiming for. Then I started combining them. In all, I probably knit about 10 different swatches in 3 yarns before I settled on a stitch pattern that conveyed what I wanted. The biggest challenge here was knitting swatches in the round because the yarn-overs and decreases simply didn’t work on the reverse side of the work.

How did you like the process of designing the Rivulets sweater?

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis has a sense of Jana’s openness and generosity of spirit. Working with her was the best part of this adventure. We communicated by email and Skype and shared lots of pictures. At every stage, Jana was very receptive to all my ideas and was brilliant at interpreting my vague descriptions of what I was hoping we could create. Readers can only imagine the laughable result of my first misguided attempt at chart writing! I love that we each tried out different yarns and stitch patterns and even sleeve types to determine what the final product would look like. The pattern repeat is big and the stitch count is not very accommodating, so to me the most incredible thing was when Jana found the perfect way to avoid the math challenges of grading the pattern!

I know that as a translator and reviewer, you are used to working closely with texts. How did that knowledge help you with writing a knitting pattern? How is writing a knitting pattern different from what you usually do?

My work as a translator and editor demands attention to detail. This means I already have the patience it takes to write and rewrite the text until it seems right. Everything I write or review must be perfectly clear and explicit. I hope that this is reflected in our pattern, because I would not like to leave knitters to fill in the gaps. Writing a pattern from scratch is very different from my everyday work. When I translate or edit a text, the ideas come from someone else. In this case, all the content was originated by Jana and me, so there is no one to blame for any faulty logic or missing information!

What does knitting mean to you?

Knitting is a way to explore the world. With all the different fibers, weights and dyeing techniques, I think I could spend a lifetime playing with yarn. I travel often and yarn is a great souvenir for me. I try to go into yarn shops in every city I visit. Although I’m trying to tame my stash, I always allow myself to buy something if it’s locally made or somehow specific to the place. My business trips cause me to spend lots of time in airports, airplanes, subways, buses and so on. There is a lot of “dead time” and knitting is my refuge in these moments. As soon as I sit down, I pull out my knitting. It’s a great conversation starter: passersby ask what I’m making or how I learned to knit or if it’s hard. Sometimes they tell me about their own knitting or their family members who knit.
Finally, I get a lot of pleasure from the finished result. Some people are about the process, but I’m all about the product. I enjoy wearing my hand-knitted garments. And I am even more delighted when I give away a hand-knitted project. Knitted items are the most thoughtful of gifts: the pattern and yarn are chosen specifically for the occasion and every stitch is worked with a thought for the recipient. It is very gratifying when a friend or loved one recognizes the time and care that have gone into a hand-made gift.
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