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Knitting it softly with InDesign: Part 2

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In Part One of this post, Midlifexpress interviewed Kelly Vaughn about her InDesign pattern making. In Part Two, Kelly tells us how she came to use the InDesign software and how her interest in history grew when she learned how intimately it intersects with fashion.

In college, I started out working toward a degree in dietetics.

After five years, and several dismal attempts at chemistry and physiology classes, I decided to change majors and get a degree in whatever would get me out of college the fastest.

I had already completed quite a few food and nutrition classes, and so I changed my major to Home Economics. Of course, right after I graduated the school changed the name of the major to a more politically correct “Family and Consumer Sciences”.

Home Economics was an interesting degree because I had already taken a couple of art and design courses to offset the stress of chemistry class and it really built upon those.

One semester, right after becoming a Home Economics major, I took a course in Fashion Design History, and soon after, a course in garment construction.

I really enjoyed the Fashion History course. It was the first time I ever enjoyed a history class. When the professor showed how the garments change over the centuries and decades, I suddenly had a visual correlation to give me a context for understanding how politics affected societies.

I learned about how Southern soldiers during the Civil War often died of heat stroke because of their too-thick wool uniforms.

And I learned that swimsuit skirt panels were done away with and the bikini was invented during the fabric rationing of WWII. And how full skirt of Dior and lower hemlines of the 1950s were in response to the lift on the fabric rationing and drab colors of WWII.

I could suddenly recall dates and events much better, now that I knew how the people were dressed. It was like the missing link to my understanding of history.

Prior to that class, I disliked every history class I ever took. After that class, history courses were much easier for me to understand.

I find that fashion and patterns also offer us an insight into how people migrate around the world.

When people migrate, they bring their patterns and clothing with them. Then those patterns get integrated into the native patterns of wherever they end up settling. It’s a really fascinating anthropological study.

After graduating college I had no job skills.

I ended up working as an assistant manager in a fast food restaurant. It was a horrible job and I would cry myself to sleep at night. After about 6 months of me making tacos, one of my mom’s accounting clients gave me a job in her publishing business. I’m  confident that she was desperate, as the only recommendation I could offer her was from my mom, who said I was “good on the computer.”

So I worked there for a couple of years doing technical manuals.

My first day on the job, my boss introduced me to PageMaker by showing me how to use paragraph styles and master pages. Years later, I realized that’s not a normal thing to learn on the first day of learning the program. So very early on, I was creating long technical manuals and interactive PDFs.

We travelled around the country, visiting clients and doing field documentation, then returning to the office and creating manuals from all the information we had collected. I didn’t know that some of the work I was doing was considered by others to be very dry and tedious. I just enjoyed sifting through pages and pages of documents and transcriptions, putting order to the random mess of information.

After about a year, sometime around 2002, we switched from PageMaker to InDesign. I’ve been using InDesign ever since.

I’ve worked in printing, marketing, engineering, and technical writing. It’s been a hodge-podge of jobs, but it’s given me a really broad understanding of a wide variety of software applications. I’m now self-employed with my own technical publishing business. I know the software very well, so I know which is the right tool for each part of each job.

When I was in college, and for a few years afterward, I knitted seemingly constantly.

I subscribed to all the magazines and read every knitting history book I could find.

The university librarian would bring in knitting books for me from all over the country. One book was so obscure that there was only a few copies in the country, and the closest one was in Kansas, which was about 2000 miles away.

In those early years as a young 20-something, I wanted to learn everything I could possibly learn about knitting. I would open the Barbara Walker pattern books and choose the most complicated patterns, just for the challenge. I once made a Spanish lace baby blanket. I think it was called Frost Flowers. It took me a year and a half to memorize the pattern repeat, to get to the point where I could knit the lace and still carry on a conversation.

All those years of knitting and studying knitting has given me a good understanding of what types of yarn and pattern stitches work well together, and for which types of projects they would be best suited. I have ripped out more knitting than I care to admit. I will give this piece of advice: don’t knit lace in cheap chenille, or any chenille. Don’t use chenille. And definitely don’t knit an entire lace blanket in cheap chenille.

These days, my work is very technical, so by the time I sit down in the evening or on the weekends to do some knitting, my brain needs a break. I just want to knit, not spend too much time thinking about it.

I mostly do garter stitch now. I can knit it in the darkness of watching a movie, and even while carrying on a conversation.It’s much harder to mess up garter stitch than it is other types of pattern stitches. It’s a very forgiving pattern.

Kelly’s Blog

Related post:
Knitting it softly with InDesign Part 1

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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