All makers are different. We all like to work in different ways, and have our own approaches to planning and executing projects. I'm excited about how Making Things is changing my making experience.
With all the different ways to make, most people will also have a preference for how they access their patterns. There are so many options out there from physical books and magazines, pattern folders in yarn stores and baskets of vintage patterns sold second hand, digital patterns found on blogs or purchased online. Now there is another option, and I’m pretty excited.
Confession time: I make bad purchasing decisions. My closet is full of shoes I’ve only worn once, I have an inexplicably large collection of empty notebooks, and my laptop and bookshelves are full of patterns that are never going to be made. Don’t get me wrong, they’re gorgeous patterns that I bought with the best intentions in the world. But then I found another pattern that I needed to start NOW. Or I couldn’t find the right needles to cast on immediately, and obviously had to buy another pattern to satisfy my casting on craving. Or maybe I started the pattern and I just wasn’t feeling it. It happens. Sometimes you have the prettiest pattern and loveliest yarn but you still find yourself wishing you were making something else. I’m sure there are people in the world who are better than me at this. Who check their stash BEFORE they purchase a pattern, or are willing to wait until they can get into their local yarn store on the weekend to buy the correct needles to get started. Sometimes that person is me; but often it is not. I know that there are also people out there who only make one pattern a year, and spend weeks choosing their patterns and yarns to make the most of it. I also know there are people who love to make the same pattern time and time again and don’t feel the same impulse as me to start something new. There are going to be people in the world who a pattern membership model just isn’t suited for, and that’s ok. Physical books are lovely, and downloading a single pattern is convenient. But for other people, like me, the the flexibility and spontaneity that Making Things (MT) allows for is ideal. If it stops my impulsive pattern purchases then the value is there. Of course there is more to MT than just the library, so let’s break down what I love about the MT making experience.
Ok I know I said this was about more than just the library, but the library is pretty great. As a long term crafter- a store employee- if there is one thing I know to be true it is that finding the perfect knitting or crochet pattern is hard. Sure there are plenty of pretty things out there to make, and I have wish lists, bookmarks and post it notes throughout various websites and books of things that I like the idea of. But when I want to make a nice, modern worsted weight vest? Suddenly I am looking into a void. Or I am looking at an untested pattern in a blog post that also has a great recipe for beetroot brownies. Or a pattern that is only available in one book that has been out of print for seven years and will cost 38 euro to buy online. Also it is written in Norwegian. Having one place where I can go and know that there will be a variety of attractive, well written, tested patterns waiting for me is huge.
This is the feature that first got me excited about the user experience MT offers. It’s a pretty simple idea- two coloured bars that can be placed and moved throughout a pattern to keep track of your place. But sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Of course ticking off rows in the pattern margins or using a pdf annotator works just fine. But having purpose built highlighters right there in the app is just so easy and refreshing. Plus with the “jump to row” feature it is possible to place two highlighters in different sections of the pattern and jump directly between them with a single click. As someone who curses patterns that require frequent scrolling and magnifying between sections this is basically a dream come true.
Like the highlighter, most makers already have their preferred row counting method. There are apps, gadgets and good old fashioned notepads. But again, the convenience of having the counters right there in the same place as my pattern is wonderful. No more having to remember to pack my notepad or counter when I go out. No more worrying about whether or not my counter will fit my needle size, or work with my circulars. No more going between my pattern and clunky counter apps on my phone. Just simple, easy to use counters right there at the bottom of my screen. Plus there’s not just one counter- there’s five. So I can count my rows, repeats, increases, sections and CPP (cookies per project) all at the same time.
I know charts can be a divisive topic for some people, but I am huge chart fan. Knitting or crochet, I’ll take a chart over a written pattern any day. But, of course, I’ve had my frustrations. Like scrolling between the pattern instructions and charts at the bottom of the pdf and having to refined my place each time. Or remembering to screenshot my charts before I take a new project out of the house. Or the chart that has been sitting on my desk for the last few weeks- scanned, taped together, folded, crushed, water-stained and covered in tick marks up the sides. Forget about taking this project out and about. Enter MT. In MT patterns, the charts can be opened alongside your pattern as a split screen, so you can still scroll through your written instructions while the chart is open. They can be magnified or made full screen for those of us with less than 20/20 vision. Plus the two way (vertical and horizontal) highlighters once again make keeping track of your place so much easier. Charts were already pretty great, but now they’re even better.
As someone who rarely makes a pattern twice, notes aren’t really my thing. But I know plenty of makers who love to repeat, and customise, their patterns so notes are a pretty big deal. This is another simple one, but good things don’t need to be complicated. Click on a row, make a note, it stays there. Pop into the pattern drawer and find all of your notes compiled into a handy list. Quick, easy, excellent.
Technology has offered us so many new and exciting ways of doing all sort of things in our lives. Why shouldn’t our making enjoy the same digital benefits as our music, movies, books, shopping and, well, everything else? To me innovation is exciting, I love to see the new ideas that blossom when different worlds of expertise combine. Of course there will always be a special place in my heart for a beautifully published magazine, or a book filled with wonderful ideas and wisdom. This probably won’t be the end of my single purchases or my notebooks full of row counts. But this will be the beginning of an exciting new way of doing what I love, with the support of a platform built from the ground up by people who are passionate about giving my community the experience we deserve.