I know this is taking a while, but it's worth it, honestly!
...Whilst in the shop, sketching out the patterns, a very wonderful human being called Claire Richardson came in, saw what I was doing and told me to contact the publishers she worked with. So sadly Claire is no longer with us and I wish I could thank her for her advice and encouragement, she was an amazing photographer and a deeply kind person, just wanted to say that. It took me a long time to get the courage up to email them, but after a bit of research in what publishers are looking for, finally I did, and within a few weeks they got back to me. Now this is important, I sent them:
1. Synopsis – an outline of themes and features in the book
2. Contents list – of what all the patterns that would be in the book
3. Introduction – a little bit about me and what I thought it would say at the front of the book
4. Some sample patterns
5. Photographs of the finished makes
6. Links ot my blog and Etsy shop
Images of the finished makes
A couple of weeks later I was at the CICO offices with a bag of slightly bonkers stuff I’d made for my children to play in, a terribly over excited manner and a little bit of fear sweat. They were really welcoming and very professional. We chatted through the contents, ideally you need around 35 patterns for a book, I had about 20, so we went through other characters and makes and came to a list of 15 new things I could make to complete the collection.
Invaluable to this was having had an Etsy shop with a good, solid history of pattern sales, it meant that they were confident that I could write patterns that people understood and there was a market for them. The blog was also really useful, because they could see my writing style and we had the number of hits for the downloads of some of the free patterns, which were in the thousands, which again gave them confidence that people were interested in the patterns I was writing.
The publishing process takes about a year start to finish:
3-4 months to do the makes and write the patterns
2-3 months to do the pattern checking, proof reading and editing
3-4 months for the actual printing and shipping
I was still working the office job and doing the school run and all of the regular, daily stuff, and I won’t lie, it suddenly felt like a lot of work. Sure I’ve sat up late making an emergency Mr.Twit beard for school the next day, but I’ve never made 15 things in 12 weeks. It was a massive juggling act, and I learned a lot about my own creative process – I’ll sketch something out and work to that sketch, but I’m also used to having the time to take it all apart and start again, to modify and improve on things, so it was real challenge. Having said all that, I loved every RSI inducing, finger blistering minute of it.
Then there were the months of tweaking and amending things so they made sense. Now I learned to crochet on youtube using US terminology, and I only learned 2 stitches and then wandered off, very happily experimenting and making things up as I went along. It’s one of the reasons that a lot of the things I’ve made are pretty original, I’ve never been bound by any taught techniques or approaches. It does mean however, that the amazing but now long-suffering Rachel (check out her lovely blog ‘my life in knitwear’) who has done a fantastic job of proofing all the patterns, had to get in touch and tell me that some of the stitches I’d used didn’t exist, and I had to scrabble around frantically working out what they should be.
Then my part in it was done. CICO photographed, styled, designed and managed everything else. A friend asked how I could let someone else take my creative vision and make it look how they wanted it. It’s a fair question, and it is really odd because you will always have something in your minds eye that fits in with your own personal aesthetic (mine sits in a slightly 1970’s print thing), and will invariably be completely different from someone else’s. The key is to let go, AND I was confident that CICO know how to make books that people want to buy, and they really did style it all so gorgeously and charmingly that there’s no way I could have been unhappy!