Twist Collective Blog
The Twist Team: Mary Joy Gumayagay and Irene Vandervoort
When we go to trade events, talk with customers and do shows, people often ask us what we do, what our titles are and how we work together. At the end of each edition is our Masthead, which lists everyone on staff and their title, along with the many people we are thrilled to thank for their contribution to the edition.
In this series of blog posts, which you can read, in its entirety, here, we'll be introducing you to some of the people who help make this magazine possible. As always, we would love to continue the discussion and get your feedback on this or any other blog post, over on Facebook.
MJ and Irene make us look good, literally. Irene styles and designs many of the articles in the magazine, updates our media kit, creates postcards and buttons and other swag for events and generally handles all the non-pattern layout design responsibilities. MJ creates every chart, schematic and, when necessary, helpful illustration in patterns and does all the pattern PDF creation. If it weren't for their expert eye for design, we wouldn't look half as spiffy for all of you.
Since there's so much overlap in their respective roles, we decided to combine them into one post with two interviews, but don't let that fool you, there is enough wonderful about each of these women, to fill an entire blog. Hopefully I'll do them justice in super combo 2-for-the-price-of-one combo post.
MM: How did you and Kate meet?
IV: It was the summer of 1998, and I was recruiting the summer intern position at the design firm I worked at, WBMG, Inc. (Walter Bernard / Milton Glaser). Kate and the rest of her class showed up en masse one afternoon--there were over a dozen students! I managed to meet all of them over the course of the next few days, and it was Kate's energy and talent stood out from the rest. Kate wound up interning for us that summer, and in the fall began working for Milton's company, MGI. We would spend lunch hours going to the few knitting shops in the area while she worked up baby sweater patterns she was designing for friends. I wasn't a knitter at the time. My role was to pick up the craziest novelty yarn and say it would be PERFECT for the job, driving Kate slightly insane! It wasn't until Kate lived in Paris that I got the urge to learn how to knit.
MM: Can you tell us a little about your experience in desktop publishing and how you use that experience for your role here at Twist?
IV: WBMG was a design firm that worked mainly on magazine and newspaper redesign and development. Working on existing publications as well as prototypes. In the six years I worked there, I honed my layout skills. Those years definitely helped train my eye for creating the pattern prototype for Twist, as well as creating the layouts and design spreads for the articles. I learned geek-y things like how wide is too wide for a column width (anything over 4-inches wide and your eye will read the same line over again).
MM: You're a knitter, yourself. Do you have a favorite Twist pattern?
IV: It's hard to choose just one Twist pattern to call my favorite! I've queue dozens and knit a handful so far. I've knit a Sweet Pea Coat for my mother, and Little Liza Jane for a friend's daughter. Being an avid sock knitter, I have knit a pair of Piton socks, a pair of Sweetgrass socks, and two pairs of Licorice Stick socks. I would love to have the GMS yarn I've set aside become a Gwendolyn for this winter. I better get to casting on!
MM: How does the work you do for Twist differ from working for a big publishing company? Are there any things about working for Twist that surprise you?
IV: It's a blast working on Twist. It never feels like a chore. Some aspects of working at a corporate publishing house are just that, a chore. And the work can feel very isolating. At Twist, working together with friends collectively on something creative is wonderful and energizing. It's kind of funny that it feels less isolating, because Twist is largely worked on by the team remotely! I still get that Dorothy opening the door to Oz feeling with each launch.
MM: You work as a freelance designer, and travel the world, can you tell our readers a little about that?
MJG: As long as I have an internet connection, I'm able to work on projects, travel, and climb to my heart's content. Freelancing gives me the flexibility to schedule my work hours any way I want, so I've been able to deliver projects while holed up in a converted train depot (Cellers, Spain), a fantastic apartment opposite a palace (Prague, Czech Republic), and a wood hut in the mountains during a freak snowstorm (Geyikbayiri, Turkey), among others. I did manage to stay put in one location (Drome/Vaucluse, France) for the better part of 2 years, which was marvelous. And I've had insane moments where I left a USB key at an internet cafe, or severe winds cut the internet, but it's all part of the adventure. The key is open communication between me and my clients, and realistic expectations. And great clients!
MM: How has your knowledge of knitting helped you in doing the layouts for our pattern PDFs?
MJG: Knowing pattern writing styles, garment construction, techniques, and knitting lingo gives me an advantage over other graphic designers because I can organize layouts to flow with the pattern. I'm always conscious of the end user and format all the information for the best possible user experience, so a chart may require extra notes, or a schematic a different format, or a diagram or tutorial may require my own interpretation to get it *just* right. Sandi and her team do a fabulous job when it comes to tech editing, so I need to deliver on my end, too.
MM: In Winter 2010, you published Antalya, your first pattern with Twist and have since published two more patterns. What got you interested in doing your own designs and do you think this is something you want to do more?
MJG: For me, design is about trying new things. Most of my patterns have started with the question, "What if?" and developed from there. I don't necessarily design with an audience in mind; sometimes it's about answering that basic question, and it's always gratifying when I end up with a pattern in the end. Antalya and Samsara dealt with alternate methods of construction (sideways and diagonal directions, respectively), and Muguet was about multiple versions (garment type and texture). I'd like to design more patterns, sure; maybe something in Stockinette stitch for a change!
MM: What is your favorite part of the work you do for Twist?