I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to update my pattern layout - the current one has been around a few years, and while it wasn't professionally designed (I did it!), it did the job pretty well, considering. The idea though of asking someone else to design a template - to out source the job - hasn't been an easy one to get my head round. I am so so used to doing everything myself. It's not that I don't want to let someone who's far better at these things than me handle it (although, my stubborn self likes the notion of keeping it all in house); it's more a matter of a) being a bit of a control freak (hey, I work by myself with good reason) and b) budget. And well, I guess that notion of being independent probably is a bigger factor than I'm admitting ('cos if I let that one rule my head, I'll never reach the end of what needs to be done).
Biting the bullet a couple of months back, I posted an ad on the Ravelry fourms. TNNA was coming up and if I was going to get a new pattern template, I ought to get on with it. My strict criteria narrowed things down a fair bit (being a Linux lass means that common software like the Adobe suite won't work in this corner) and I half expected not to find anyone I would be able to work with. Clare, who can be found at Yarn and Pointy Sticks, got in touch and I'm glad that she did.
Clare works with Open Source software, and when we ran into a hiccup or two with Scribus over fonts, she was incredibly flexible in that she was able to adapt the template developed so far for Open/Libre Office, which is the program that gets used 99% of the time on this 'puter. Huge brownie points. Working with open source programs is a very important thing for me and working with an editor who also embraces that quietened my fears about letting someone else take the reins.
On top of that, I found Clare very easy to communicate with. Saying yey or nay or querying something didn't feel sticky. I'd highly recommend her and infact have worked with her since on tidying up and developing other templates - my Woolly Toppers collections template (which really wasn't a template, more a buggy mess of a file) has been neatened up and straightened out. The work she's done there is very efficient and clever; Clare knows her stuff.
This is the front cover and first page of the Meret pattern. The Meret is my ambassador pattern, and it's the perfect one to try out the new fit with, as you can all download it and have a look for yourself.
There's possibly a couple of things I need to get right, such as how I fit in the tutorials or the small pattern ads. The front page leaves lots of room for those patterns (such as Mercury) that have a lot of up front info, which is most useful. I think the 3 photo layout is a bonus, as the main shot is there to grab attention, and the extras fill in the gaps on the detail front. I don't find one solo photo on the front of a pattern to be enough; the previous template had 2 photos and this is an improvement on that. The sideways text is a nod to the want to try different directions in things, and that's where the idea for the sideways banners in my TNNA booth this year came from. I used sideways text a fair bit in Going Straight, too, so the idea isn't an unfamiliar one.
Designing a layout is challenging - it needs to be compact for economy in printing, yet still needs to remain readable so that all the information is conveyed clearly, especially with instructions. It needs to be in the style of the designer/author AND have a flavour of it's own. Clean and simple is key, methinks. Clare got everything right with this layout, I'd say.
A few of the latest Playful Woolly Toppers patterns have gone into the new layout, as will future releases. It's going to take quite some time though to get the older patterns into the new layout, so I'm not making any promises there.
I'm glad I finally took the plunge and asked for help. I'm keen to hear what you think, too :)