When I dreamed up the idea of a Designer in Residence program for SweetGeorgia, I wanted to teach an up-and-coming designer some things I wish I had learned at the beginning of my career – some grading, proposals, working with teams, scheduling, etc. And while I did that (I hope), I found a renewed zeal in my work. I found myself re-reading old patterns and proposals, re-investigating grading techniques, exploring new silhouettes, and expanding my skills in editing. The curious, open, and creative questions, insights, and determination of the Residents pushed me into learning new things right along with them.
We started the year off with two residents, Matt Akers and Ruth Nguyen. Unfortunately, life played its topsy-turvy-ness and Matt had to withdraw from the program. But not without all our love for him and delight at what he did with us while here, including a pair of socks and the Advent 2021 shawl, In a Twinkling.
You can find Matt and his work here:
Ruth might honestly be the most charming and inquisitive person I’ve ever known. Some key things to know about Ruth –
- She asked a million and one questions and absorbed the answers like a sponge. She thought she was annoying, but her questions were like a fire of inspiration.
- She’s a perfectionist who always wants to do things the right way. I had the great honour of showing her wonderful it is to fail sometimes. Wink.
- She has an incredible eye for dark sultry colours and pairs them with just the right amount of texture. It’s fascinating to watch her mind put it all together.
- I just KNOW she’s going to be a designer to watch as the year goes by.
I have loved every.single.minute of being her mentor, but I’m savouring the way we became friends.
Being in the Designer in Residence program was like being Tabetha’s understudy, but an understudy that gets to go out on stage a whole lot! During my time in the program, I released 3 patterns for SweetGeorgia, including the 2021 Mystery Knit-Along Quiet Bay shawl pattern, filmed several video tutorials and a full course for the School of SweetGeorgia, and released several indie patterns featuring SweetGeorgia yarns. These projects stretched me in a variety of ways—working in tandem with multiple people on a single endeavor, managing the design logistics of a large knit-along, filming professional-quality videos, grading garment patterns for an inclusive size range, and even building up my use of color.
I’m excited to have lots of new skills in my designer toolbox to apply to future projects. Tabetha really urged me to try the things that intimidated me and walked me through every step of the way. After completing the program, I’m a far more confident designer than I was a year ago, and the kinds of work I can tackle are much more diverse. But the best part of the program, beyond a doubt, was all the cheering, support, and love from the SGY team backstage. The team welcomed me with open arms, and they excel at making a safe, joyful space for everyone to work and create in; designing knitwear can be a solitary pursuit, and being part of a group was something I didn’t even know I was missing. I already miss them like crazy, but I’m looking forward to staying in touch and working together in the future!
Don’t forget: Ruth’s patterns are still 20% off through the end of March with the code RuthRocks2022. Good on the website and on Ravelry for Fireside Lace, Quiet Bay, and Thaw.
It might be the end of Ruth’s official Resident Term, but it isn’t the end of Ruth with SweetGeorgia. You can find her in all these places in the meantime:
I am so grateful to have been able to bring designers into this unique world of teamwork, long-term planning, and growth. The Designer in Residence program just might open up again in the near future, so keep an eye out. Wink.