How do you take your notes? Do you keep paper notebooks? Are you a diehard Excel fan? Do you use a note-taking app on your phone or tablet? Do you have random scraps of paper floating around your studio that you can’t find when you need them? (Guilty!!!)
I am a work in progress on my note-taking skills. I used to keep design notes in my planner – but I found I ended up using alternate notebooks or journals and losing things like all the time. So I’ve moved to a digital process for my design work.
I keep all my computer files backed up on dropbox. (Make sure you back up your files friends!) And I have a main folder setup for all my design work.
The Excel database file is a listing of every single pattern I’ve designed, with information like yarn used and weight, needles, romance text, etc. I update this regularly.
Pattern Essentials is where I keep my style sheet, my word template for my patterns, my logos, my Illustrator file set-up that I use for charts, my InDesign templates for the final patterns, etc.
Fully Listed holds all the patterns that have been listed on my own site in addition to Ravelry. I’m about 2/3 done with getting them all up on my own site, so that folks have a non-Rav option if they have issues with Rav with the migraines and such.
Rav Only is self-explanatory – it’s just a holding spot for finished designs that may need reformatting before posting them on my own site.
Ideas and In Progress is where I throw ALL the ideas. Picture of a pretty bird that I want yarn in that colors? Throw it in!
And then I tend to pull out the patterns that I’m working on and keep them in the main folder for easy access. I have a few hundred designs, so the lists get long quickly!
But what’s important is what each folder contains. I have a numbering system for my patterns – CS for Craftstar Studios and then I number them as I go along. As soon as an idea is going to happen, I give it a number – and then usually a name in short order. That way I can keep everything organized.
In the folder I have at bare minimum a word document or Excel spreadsheet holding my notes about the pattern. If there is any more than simple math work involved it’s definitely got a spreadsheet. I also like to have a picture of the yarn label – because I’ve lost so many yarn labels over the years. And then I might have charts in Illustrator format, and any drawings or sketches. I also like to keep all the pictures I take along the way – of the yarn, of the project in process, etc. so that I have it for future social media use.
So basically, I try to keep everything I need for the finished design. This is how I do things now – I used to keep things in paper notebooks, but that way began to fall apart. It is crucial that you find a way of note-taking that works for you. There is no right or wrong in this equation, only what feels natural and usable for you. Because if you don’t keep good notes or write the entire pattern before you start – trust me you will be sorry. I speak from experience. Lots of experience.
I consider myself an experienced designer and I still find myself caught without complete notes from time to time and I want to throttle myself! A while back I was finishing a sweater design and when I realized I had completely graded and noted everything I wanted to kiss myself. (I didn’t!) But to be able to throw those comprehensive notes and numbers into a style sheet and be done was heavenly!
The time you spend you spend taking good notes will make you a happy, productive designer down the road. So find the way that works for you and take good notes!