The process / by jen geigley

I've been quietly plugging away on a project for months, and I just wanted to share some of my photos of the process, before I forget.

In design school, our professors taught us that the process is just as important as the final product. Quite possibly more important. We didn't show a final project without showing our entire process. THE PROCESS, they kept saying. We were taught to draft several concepts and preliminary designs, and then draft a few more, and then they'd ever-so-kindly insult our choices and help us learn to weed out the strongest ideas for further development. Then we'd work on visual solutions and reasons behind our design decisions; everything had to have a reason. Why black and white? Why did we choose that typeface? Why did we use a grid? And everything that followed was the work. The production and the execution; the blood, sweat and tears. I've applied this knowledge to projects I've done as a freelance graphic designer ever since.

This is also how I wrote a book.

The process began with me hurriedly writing down scattered thoughts and ideas and tiny ink pen sketches in my notebook. And then crossing things out. And making lots and lots of lists. And more sketches. And crossing out the sketches.

Then came the knitting of many swatches and garments. Over and over again to test out new ideas and to get things just right. It was a bit exhausting. I threw my knitting a few times.

Knitting in the car, on a plane. Knitting until 3:00 in the morning.

I would knit in the back yard. And on the edge of my kids' beds while they fell asleep. Many rows were completed while I sat in the after-school pick-up line outside of my daughter's school.

It took so much longer than I thought it would, but I had to allow my ideas, time and energy to ebb and flow. We are all human. No one has great ideas on demand. There were times this project seemed silly. There were days I wanted to set everything aside. But I wouldn't and couldn't let myself quit.

Row by row, one experimental garment at a time, I slowly built a collection. And of course, not every idea or knitted sample made it to the final cut.

But the ones that made it earned their place. They belong.

The process sounds mundane, but it wasn't. I set a deadline and finished all of the pattern writing and sample knitting over the summer. There was so much trial and error – and sometimes heartbreak – but I loved every minute of the process. It was mine.

Then came the photo shoots. I kind of died over the photo shoots. It was such a thrill. I put together an accidental dream team of friends and acquaintances who took my Rubbermaid bin of hand-knits and turned them into living, breathing art. It was nuts.

And the rest has been that whole production and the execution thing. Choosing photos and putting together the layout. Writing out pattern notes and special techniques. Graphic design is just another thing I love, and once again, getting to do all of the design work on my own project is a very splendid thing.

I sent my final documents to print last night and I'll see my first proofs soon. In no time, I will have an actual book in my hand. So I guess this is it. I'm going to trust the weird little process I've laid down. It's a scary thing to get this far and have nowhere to go but hitting the 'print' button. But you're supposed to do the things that are scary, and I can't stop this train now. (I'll give you a heads up when I have that book in my hand.) <3