Interviewee – Kerry Bullock-Ozkan
1) When did you start designing and tech editing? Could you give us a potted history of your yarny background?
My mother taught me to sew and knit when I was around 9 years old – I still have the partially-knit doll sweater I started and somehow never finished. I continued sewing all through high school, and later graduate school when I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine. I didn’t really come back to knitting until I was in my late 20s, when I was working as a research engineer, but once I got started I couldn’t put my needles down. After I had my son I became known as “the knitting mom” at all the storytimes and playdates. I published my first pattern on Ravelry in 2013, but didn’t really think of making designing my career until 2016, after my son started school. I got my tech editing certification from The Knitting Guild Association in 2018 – both pattern writing and tech editing appeal to the engineering side of my brain.
2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?
My biggest source of inspiration is the yarns themselves. I’ll get an idea by looking at the texture of a particular wool or blend of fibers, or a combination of colors. I started designing around the time that breed specific yarns were becoming more available, and I’m fascinated by the variety you can find with different wool breeds and wools from different locales. Since many breed-specific yarns, and especially locally or regionally produced ones, are not widely available, it can be a challenge to design patterns with them, but as knitters continue to seek them out and they become more familiar, it’s getting easier. I want to do more designing with yarns that are local to me, and I’m an active member of my local Fibershed group, which seeks to support a regional textile economy in our area.
3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart or chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?
It changes somewhat depending on the design. I will often get ideas first from swatching a yarn I want to use, but sometimes an idea will just come to me and I’ll do a rough sketch first, and then decide on the yarn. I’m trying to improve my sketching so I can better try out various details on paper, but when I’m submitting a design for publication it’s usually the last thing I do! I usually grade the design before writing, and then write the pattern one section at a time as I knit the sample. If have a stitch pattern I want to use I will usually chart it before I start the sample and begin writing. For colorwork I will often create the chart before swatching and play with the color options before swatching – something that is easy to do with Stitchmastery.
4) Similarly with tech editing, do you have a set work-flow or does it depend on the client?
I have a pretty standard workflow for tech editing. I usually read through the pattern in detail first to check the text, and any charts or written stitch patterns. Then I go back through and check stitch counts and schematics. I always go away for a bit and come back to do a final read-through with fresh eyes.
5) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without, or anything you wish it could do?
I chose Stitchmastery based on others’ recommendations, and because it has so many options, not only for charting but also the ability to save the chart in multiple file formats. That allows me to insert it into any type of document, or meet the requirements of any publication I submit to. And it has a more extensive stitch library than other programs I’ve seen. I’ve used it for colorwork, cables, and simple lace, but I haven’t nearly exhausted what I could do with it.
One of the features I use most frequently is the ability to convert the chart and written instructions, as I try to include both in my patterns where possible. I also love the ability to save the chart and key as separate files – I use that on every pattern.
6) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
I have a new sock pattern just out – the Winding Stream Socks (pictured below). It’s my first sock pattern since my very first Ravelry release. It’s designed for those beautiful hand dyed yarns we all have in our stash, with a simple cable pattern that can be worked without a cable needle. It also comes in sizes from toddler to adult XL, so you can knit socks for the whole family. This design has been on the back burner for quite a while due to other projects – so long that I lost my original hand-drawn chart and had to recreate it – but with the pandemic I finally had time to sit down and finish the sample and pattern.