Make & Hue, SweetGeorgia

Behind the Scenes: A SweetGeorgia Collection

Watching a single pattern come together is fun, but the process of putting an entire collection together is magical. Producing over three seasonal collections requires the efforts of an entire team of studio production, designers, editors, photographer, graphics, web, sample knitters, and test knitters. We thought you’d enjoy the different perspectives of some team members involved for a behind-the-scenes peek.

 

Creative Beginnings: Felicia Lo, Creative Director + Founder

We’ve begun working very far ahead of each season with each collection. At times, I think we’re looking at designing twelve or fourteen months ahead of our publishing schedule. In order to stay ahead of my collaboration with Tabetha about specific design ideas, colours, and mood boards, I’m very much always aware of what is happening in the design world… but not specifically knitwear design. I’m interested in completely different industries altogether and what is happening overall in our world since it dictates our overall mood and perception of what’s happening around us.

I follow what is happening in the graphic design world as it relates to colour and texture and when I come together to discuss ideas with Tabetha, she presents her findings from the fashion and knitwear design worlds. I think together, this helps us produce a well-informed feeling of what we want to present on behalf of SweetGeorgia. SweetGeorgia has her own look, feel, and style, so it’s not something that can just be overridden by whatever trend happens to be going on at the moment. We talk about trends and see what SweetGeorgia can take and leave from that. I absolutely love that we can plan ahead and think about our own future, with the things we design and develop. But I also love that our creative process and sometimes the design of new colourways can be done very quickly, if needed, so I always feel like we are pretty agile, flexible, and able to express what we want.

It takes quite the team working together to make it all come together. Energy, communication, and creative drive are the foundational pieces that bring it all to fruition.

 

 

Development: Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director

The SweetGeorgia team starts prepping a collection about, gosh, ten to twelve months before its launch, beginning with research on fashion trends and colours before refining that research into mood boards, colour palettes, and themes. Once we’ve settled on “stories” for the collection, or themes that represent a vision we want to explore, we put out a call for submissions to designers.

Probably the most time-consuming, yet most invigorating part of the job, is taking the hundred-or-so proposals and narrowing them down into the ten-to-twelve needed for the collection, fine-tuning the colour palette, and assigning yarns. This event takes nearly two weeks as we explore the various stitches, shades, and yarns to build them together into a cohesive whole.

While it is super disappointing to have to “say no” to a particular design, the breadth of creativity from the designers is invigorating, opening me up to ideas to incorporate into future collections. Once the selections have been made, the designers and I move into the design and pattern writing process.

 

Dye Studio: Hubert Mock, Production Manager

As Tabetha’s designated “Yarn Studio Gopher”… ahem… or I mean… “Guru,” I have the exciting task of ensuring all the yarn support “Tabs” sends my way gets made! It all begins with a beautifully laid out, perfectly organized spreadsheet specifying Tab’s wish list, which gets entered into our production queue. With the new yarn and fibre bases we’re featuring for the coming season in hand, plus the brand new colourways and their formulas confirmed, our dye team sets forth to produce these brand new products. We ensure the new colours and yarns meet our product specs through our QA process and when that check out, they are shipped off to the talented designers who will be knitting/crocheting them into the new featured garment samples. It is always an exciting time for our production team when we are creating something new.

 

Design: Madeleine Windsor

It’s been more than two-years since I started designing with SweetGeorgia Yarns and in that time we have worked on 6 designs. I was already in love with their yarns before submitting designs for them and I think many designers would find it hard not to be inspired by their spectacular range of colours and also their beautiful, luxury bases.

The submission calls and mood boards from SweetGeorgia spark the creative flame in my mind. I live in Zurich, Switzerland, meaning that I cannot always swatch with their yarn, but in working with the design team I always feel that they can grasp my concept and I know that they will suggest the right yarn to bring the design to life–the yarn NEVER disappoints! If I get the acceptance letter for my submission, once the internal happy dance is done, I am immediately emailing with Tabetha about the colour(s) we will be using and waiting eagerly for the yarn to arrive. It is always a joyful process to knit up the design, and it’s always with a slightly heavy heart that I must part with the finished item (at least temporarily) so that it can be photographed for the collection and brought to shows for promotion. When finalizing the design process, in terms of pattern writing, editing and layout, SweetGeorgia is always present, encouraging, and professional. They ensure my designs are being presented in the best possible light. Working with the tech editors is a smooth process, and it is clear they have excellent attention to detail which is always appreciated.

While in a way it is not hard to create when one has such beautiful and inspiring starting materials, it is still such a thrill when publication day rolls around and we get to see how everything has come together to showcase the beauty and versatility of relationship between colour and yarn.

 

Design: Emily Wood

I love designing for SweetGeorgia’s pattern collections! The SweetGeorgia team comes up with several themes for each collection and puts together a call for patterns with descriptions and intriguing pictures. The call always gets my brain humming with new ideas and I reach for my leftover yarn and start swatching. Some ideas come together really easily; others need to be worked at for a while (and I’ve been known to talk through problems that are gnawing at me while walking the dog—he doesn’t seem to mind as long as he gets extra treats).

One of the best things about having a design accepted is making the sample in SweetGeorgia yarns with their luscious, evenly dyed colours. If I have done my homework well enough for the pattern proposal (and if I’ve remembered to take good notes about how I made the swatch), then knitting the sample and writing up the pattern goes pretty smoothly. Afterward, I send the sample and pattern to the SweetGeorgia team for their turn! The tech editors go over the pattern with a fine-tooth comb to make it as readable and error-free as possible, while the photographer makes the design look its best in the pictures. A lot of hours go into making a pattern that don’t involve knitting or crocheting, but the final version of the pattern, laid out with stunning photos, always takes my breath away a little. Working with the SweetGeorgia team is such a pleasure, which is why I try not to miss their design calls—I design patterns because I love it and it provides a much-needed break from my other job, so the feeling of creative collaboration that Tabetha and the rest of SweetGeorgia offer is really appreciated!

 

Sample / Test Knitting: Deborah Dar Woon

Firstly, it is so much fun working alongside everyone at the SGY studio (and Tabetha a bazillion miles away). Making samples and testing patterns is my way of helping ensure that SGY is selling quality patterns. When I find something that doesn’t quite make sense, Tabetha, the tech editors, and the designers have all been easy to approach so that I can continue working on their pattern. Sample knitting gives me the opportunity to get a feel for every single base, usually in colourways that I would not normally work with, and gives me a starting reference for when I have to swatch in the future.

When making samples or testing patterns, I use the yarn that the pattern calls for and I swatch to meet gauge requirements. Sometimes, I will record each minute that I spend working on the item and weigh my remaining yarn after each section to provide accurate information to the SGY design team. Sometimes, that information isn’t required, so I power through the pattern.

Why do I do this? I want the patterns to be successful; I have fun with all the staff at SGY; I like having advance knowledge of what’s coming out; but really I just like to knit and having a deadline makes sure I finish what I start.

 

Technical Editing: Lindsey Stephens, Lead Crochet Tech Editor

I love working with SweetGeorgia because everyone is so upbeat and helpful. When I get the folder of patterns from the SweetGeorgia team, I partner with a second editor to focus in on pattern clarity, consistency, and accuracy. We want to make sure the instructions aren’t “just right,” but also well written. Crocheting or knitting should be fun and enjoyable, and a quality pattern is a big part of that. Throughout the process, we use the samples as a reference when checking the pattern, communicating with Tabetha and the designer throughout the process. We all work together to make the pattern the absolute best it can be. In fact, it can be a little hard tech editing all the gorgeous stuff that comes through the SweetGeorgia pipeline because I end up wanting to make everything!

 

Photography Coordination: Teresa Mock, Sales Operations Supervisor

I loved coordinating the shoot of our Holiday 2018 collection, seeing how the many months of planning, designing and knitting all come together. Tabetha sets the mood for the collection with the mood board and stories she develops early on and, in turn, we have to find a location within Metro Vancouver that best matches what she envisioned. After a date, time and location is set, I schedule an appointment with our hair and makeup artist. She arrives on site to prep our models for the day. Our models, like Joy Warren from our recent Holiday collection, are a dream to work with and know how to highlight the garment details just perfectly. And our photographer Josh Young knows the right angles, equipment and lighting to make every shot perfect. When I receive the final patterns, a couple of weeks later to post the on our website, I am always amazed by the stunning quality and composition.

 

Wrapping Up: Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director

Once photos are in and patterns are laid out, things suddenly spur into a flurry of activity. We’re taking our themes and fitting them into a LookBook, graphics, marketing pieces, and social media shares. We have to upload to web and Ravelry, emails out to everyone on our list about release dates, draft written copy, update the materials for our local yarn stores, not to mention all the checks, rechecks, and rechecks again! Those three or four weeks before launch are a whirlwind of activity.

Every collection is an inspiring process, but being able to collaborate with this kind of team makes every collection ultra-special. &

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About Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director for SweetGeorgia Yarns, lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment. And that joy is ever so easy to find when immersed in the world of fibre! When not knitting, writing, editing, or researching, she fills the time raising two girls, two dogs, and one husband in Tennessee.

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