Show Me The FO
I’ve found myself wandering around Ravelry’s pattern database a lot lately. Rav’s system makes it easy for anyone to add a pattern, thus allowing for a fairly eclectic exchange of ideas. I think that’s really cool. It’s exciting to be able to pick up patterns from designers I might otherwise not have heard of, and to have the chance to put my own work out there without turning pattern design into a full-time gig.
Of course, the other side of that coin is that a lot of people (self included, I’ll own that) who don’t have access to professional advice about how best to draw an audience to their pattern are adding content. And sometimes? The presentation just isn’t there, and I feel like it should be. I have neither the knowledge nor the time to do an in-depth article on this, but I thought it might be worth mentioning a few things I’ve noticed about photos in particular. Maybe word will get around and this will help someone. (If not, hey, at least I got it out of my system.) I don’t claim that I don’t commit these sins myself, or that I have any real standing to dictate to anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. These are just suggestions from a fellow Raveler based on my own reactions when pattern-browsing.
- There needs to be a photo with your Ravelry listing. If you haven’t made a sample yourself or no longer have access to your sample, get someone to test-knit for you and use a picture of theirs. The name “Skippy Sweater of Unicorns and Rainbows” (not a real pattern) doesn’t really tell me much about your pattern. In the pages and pages of sweaters that are returned from any given search? I’m not going to so much as glance at one that doesn’t show me what the finished object looks like. In fact, most of the time I filter out results with no image.
- Feature the photo that best showcases your FO. This is not necessarily the best photo in a more general sense, nor is it necessarily the prettiest picture. I can’t tell you how many garment photos I’ve seen in which the model’s pose obscures or overwhelms the garment. The model isn’t the point here; the point is the pattern. The model’s supposed to be selling the garment, not the other way around. Likewise, the detail of the gorgeous cabling on the cuffs of those fingerless gloves might be stunning against a backdrop of powdery snow, but it doesn’t give me any idea of what the rest of the piece is like. In this case, the detail is probably something that should be included—but maybe not as the featured photo that shows up in search results.
- Show me the whole thing. If it’s a shawl, include one photo of it in which I can see the whole wingspan: the shape, the effect of the pattern from a small distance, the overall size. If it’s a sweater, give me a full-front shot so that I can see its proportions relative to itself and a human being. If it goes on the feet or the hands, show how far up the limb it will extend. Don’t leave out the lower hem of the garment, thereby forcing me to guess how long it is. None of these things have to be the featured photo, but they should be there somewhere.
- Don’t forget the close-ups. Most patterns will have some feature that makes them interesting. Maybe it’s a texture. Maybe it’s a lace panel. Maybe it’s cables. Perhaps there’s some element of the garment itself—a hood, a pocket, the way the sleeves join. Could be it’s decoration, like beads or button bands. Whatever it is, find it, and give me a picture. This is what sets your work apart from everyone else’s. Show me why I should use your pattern.
- Bonus Round: Provide a variety of finished objects. This one’s not quite as important as the others, if only because it’s more difficult to achieve with a new pattern. As other people start to knit your pattern, though, you might consider requesting their FO photos for your pattern page. Sometimes a different colorway or a few slight alterations can make a drastic difference in the appearance of the FO. (See for example Holden, which didn’t interest me until I saw it in a long-change variegated colorway with beads added.) Give your audience ideas and inspiration. Show them how flexible your pattern can be and how varied the results are. Your pattern is exciting! Dynamic! So show us.
I think that just about covers it. I feel like a lot of this stuff is kind of common sense—what draws you to a pattern? What makes you ignore one? Act accordingly.—but perhaps it kind of gets lost sometimes. Maybe this will help someone, maybe I’m just ranting at empty air, I don’t know. But… you know what, I suck at writing conclusions, so I’m just going to shut up now.