One of the hardest thing that I find to do is to look back at my older patterns. While part of me is very proud of the advancements I made in creating pattern packets, there is another part of me that looks back to when I was just starting out and wishing that I could do them all over again.
There have been so many advancements that I have made in the past fifteen plus years. I have different software, learned new skills and have spoken with many customers directly and learned of better ways to explain things so that everyone can fully understand the process needed to build the items that we are designing. It isn’t just drawing lines.
Since Jim Barry from Woodworkers Workshop became a distributor of our designs and patterns in August, we have been going through quite a few changes internally. In some ways I feel like I haven’t really been able to do design work because of all the organizing that has been required to share and distribute the files with Jim. But in the bigger picture, this has really been a great way to force us to clean house here and get all of our files and patterns in tip-top shape. It is really a good thing and it will ultimately make things better for everyone, including our customers.
We all know how quickly computer software advances. By the time we learn one program, it seems that they are on to a new and ‘improved’ version and we need to learn several new things all over again. While this is exciting and fun at times it can be somewhat frustrating trying to keep up with things. I found that I look for the features that I am using myself, and as long as those keep working fine, I am good to go – at least for a while.
But after several years of this, it is inevitable that at some point upgrading is necessary, and with upgrades come compatibility issues. While improvements may be a positive thing, the more changes there are from program to program, the higher chance that your documents won’t convert properly.
This happened with some of our older designs.
When I started using Adobe software, nearly fifteen years ago, I used a program called ‘Pagemaker’ which was the program used to integrate the text, line graphics and photographs into one place. Ultimately once our pattern packets were built in this program, we were able to convert them to the PDF files that we use for distribution.
Several years ago however, Adobe replaced Pagemaker with a program called ‘InDesign’ which basically did the same thing (plus some other features). While this was a good thing in the long run, for some reason the Pagemaker files don’t always behave properly when opened in InDesign. There are many ‘glitches’ and formatting errors that need to be addressed to make the files look proper. Sometimes it may be a small thing, but other times it would be more annoying (like in one file, it decided to place a space after every ‘i’ – even in the middle of a word!) You can imagine the time and picking it takes to work on these.
As we are giving patterns to Jim for distribution, we are for the most part going over them to see if they need to be ‘upgraded’. It is a difficult thing to decide where to draw the line, as our first inkling would be to just rewrite everything and start from scratch. But with approximately 500 patterns in our library, it would probably take both of us a year or so to do that. And that just isn’t possible. We need to keep moving ahead, as well as fixing some of the things that do need fixing and find a balance between the two.
I suppose I am rambling on here because I am really torn at what to do. On the one hand, many of these older patterns have served us well and are really good patterns. I also want to make it clear that there is nothing incorrect or wrong with them, they are just formatted a bit differently than what we are making today and perhaps I explained things a bit differently. They certainly have worked well for us in the past. We just feel that we have advanced and gotten better in recent years, and in comparison, we do see a difference.
I think that there comes a time when I have to stop looking back and move forward with these. While my early designs may not be presented in the format that I do now, they have served me well and have been a good stepping stone to where we are now in our designing. While any obvious errors or typos will be fixed and updated, I think that we need to stop the urge to dissect them and rebuild them. We need to move ahead to new things and trust that what brought us to where we are today is good and look to new things.
It is so hard to look at something we did years ago and feel the same way about it. While we know that we did our best back then, and were very proud of it, it is only natural that over the years we have advanced and gotten better in our craft. By comparison the early patterns may not be as good as today’s work, but I think that is part of the learning process and in itself shows just how much we advanced in what we do. And that is a good thing I think.
So I have come to the resolution that I will move on from here and stop looking over my shoulder. I’ll still be proud of those earlier designs, but I will know that there are even better things to come. And everyone will benefit from that.
“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” – Denis Waitley
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"