The great Knit Design in Time experiment has come to an end with the publication of the Soundside pullover and brought with it all kinds of useful data on pattern design, earnings, etc., so let’s jump in and take a look!
First, though, a few notes:
1. I was really pressed for time at the end of this project, so I rushed through a few elements that I would usually spend more time on, like photography and photo editing.
2. There were occasions where I just forgot to start the stopwatch before I got to work. :-/
3. A drop shoulder is pretty much the easiest sweater style to design—there’s no waist shaping, no armhole shaping, no sleeve cap shaping…it’s basically a square with sleeves. This one does have a little neck and shoulder shaping, but comparatively, it was simpler to design and grade than, say, a set-in sleeve cardigan, and so logically probably took less time.
With those caveats, let’s start with the grand total: 44.32 hours from concept to publication.
What does that include, exactly?
Knitting the sample
Grading (calculating the measurements, shaping and stitch counts for all sizes, in this case, 6)
Writing the pattern
Drawing the schematic
Running the test knit
Tech editing (that is, time spent revising the pattern after my editor has reviewed it)
Final pattern layout
Publication (creating the pattern pages and uploading the pattern on Ravelry and Loveknitting)
Promotion (newsletter, Instagram, creating promotion codes, advertising, etc)
What’s not included?
Time spent creating and revising the initial sketches/concept for the design
Time spent scouting yarn and arranging yarn support
Mostly because I did those things before I decided to do this experiment.
For anyone who’s ever wondered exactly how long it takes to knit a sweater, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but I can tell you that this one took me about 32 hours to knit, at a gauge of 6sts/inch (although I was not knitting at what you would call an enjoyable pace; more like hand-cramping breakneck speed) . That’s 72% of the design time on creating the sample.
That leaves about 9.5 hours for everything else, pattern writing and grading being the largest chunk of that—70% or 6.75 hours.
Is it more or fewer hours than you thought? I’ve always estimated 40 hours for a sweater design, so I wasn’t far off (although, as I said, this was a pretty simple design to grade and knit and I was rushing through some of it), but it’s still a bit shocking to see it all down on paper. I was surprised to see that publication and promotion—setting up the pattern on Ravelry and Loveknitting, creating ads, doing Instagram and Facebook posts, writing the newsletter, etc.—took nearly 2 hours of time, since those are elements I sometimes consider tangential to pattern design. They are really a big chunk of the work.
I’m not surprised that the sample knitting took the vast majority of the time, but something to consider is how much time I could save if I could somehow outsource all of my sample knitting.
But of course, sample knitting isn’t free—at the rate I pay ($.15/yd), this sweater would’ve cost me $195 to have knit. We’ll get into the money in Part II of this post, but suffice to say, I definitely can’t afford it!
Thoughts or questions? Share in the comments!
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