One of the reasons that I've been so quiet on here recently is my recent second-career is a knitter for hire. When I started creating my own knit designs, I would knit up the samples for photos myself and try to come up with creative ways of taking pictures of my own feet (although my husband did an excellent job with my last sock pics). It didn't really occur to me until I saw a posting for somebody needing a sample knitter that designers didn't always knit up their own stuff.
In the last few months, I've become involved in a couple of sample knitting projects - one for an independent publication, and also for a larger yarn company. They send me the yarn and the pattern, I knit it up and send it back. While that sounds ridiculously easy, I've discovered that there's a lot more to it. If you happen across an opportunity to knit for hire, here's a few things to keep in mind.
- You are providing the final image. Generally, when you're working from a pattern you have a photo to give you a general idea of what the item is supposed to look like. My first sample knitting project, I kept on looking for that photo to give me guidelines...and then I'd realize that I was knitting the photo. The whole knitting "blind" thing is a total trip and leads to nerves that you will accidentally create a knitwear Quasimodo of sorts.
- You have to pay a lot of attention to what the designer may have missed or miscalculated. They haven't necessarily knit up the piece, or it may not have been tech edited yet. Sometimes the math doesn't add up, or they forgot to put in a step. If you're not sure, ask! I'd rather stop knitting for a couple hours and wait for confirmation than have to rip back something later. The designer is relying on you to help them release the best pattern possible.
- You're on a deadline. I'm a serious offender when it comes to half knit items hanging around the house in a variety of bags. Sometimes I lose interest, sometimes I forget about it completely. Either way, there is no "I'll get to that later" when it comes to sample knitting. If they need it for a photo shoot on whatever date, you have to get it there on time!
- You don't get to keep it. You may have to put aside personal projects for a while (see aforementioned point, I'm good at that anyway) to get the samples done and no matter how much you love whatever it is you just made, you have to send it away never to be seen again. OK, well I should say that it will be seen again when the pattern is released, and then there will be the pride and excitement that accompanies that.
- You may develop callouses on your pinkie finger. That's just a fact that I had to share seeing as my right hand is currently sporting one.
I realize that doesn't all sound super fun but I have had several knitters say to me since I started doing this "that sounds like a blast" and don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying it. There's always the other side of the coin though and sample knitting is a serious business that does take a good amount of dedication. On the upside, it's a great opportunity to try out and discover new yarns that you may not have come across before! Of the 3 things I've knit up, there's 2 yarns that I would definitely use again (will post more once the patterns are released) and one that I loved in the hank but really didn't enjoy knitting with. If nothing else, I'm getting the aspirations to be a designer that can have others knit up my visions when I grow up!