I have a new appreciation for knitting patterns. I really had no idea how much work goes into them. I have been working daily on my first pattern for over a month and am still in testing, but I'm also just about ready to submit it to a magazine for publication. I can't self publish until I find out if it's accepted - but the exposure would be so amazing.
I think the biggest surprise - and biggest don't - don't choose a yarn without really doing your research. Like a lot of research.
The first yarn I chose for my Sand Dollar Sweater had a couple of unpleasant surprises in store for me. The first, which my tech editor found, was that the yarn is actually discontinued. I didn't really see why that should be a big deal, but it does matter. Knitters like to use the recommended yarn. If they can't, they might not be comfortable picking out a substitute, and if they do, they might pick something that won't easily give them proper gauge, which means they won't be able to knit the pattern to the size they intended. I am as guilty as the next person of not swatching before starting a project, so recommending a yarn that is readily available is the best way I can help my knitters be successful in knitting my pattern. Ok, lesson learned.
Tonight I learned another hard lesson - I learned not to wash something without checking that the yarn is in fact washable.
I noticed some little marks on my sample (never noticed them before, but they might be rust from my blocking pins) so tried to lift the stains and carefully hand wash them out. When that didn't quite succeed I dropped it in the wash on cold water gentle cycle - it's a cotton wool blend, that can't hurt, can it?
A child's sweater that is hand wash/dry clean only? No thank you. Better I found out now.
Good thing I had already taken the advice of my tech editor, found a replacement yarn, and knit a new sample and swatch. Oh and also good thing the new yarn turned out to be washable, because you know I didn't check.
Things I've learned that I do recommend doing? Apart from researching your yarn, definitely hire a tech editor! I was astonished at what she turned up, not just things I should have caught myself, but things I really would not have thought of, or things that looked awkward to me, but I just didn't know how to fix, due to my inexperience. Such a great experience. My tech editor is Frauke Urban of https://urbanyarning.com/ (yes, she is mine now - I will definitely request her services for future patterns) and I highly recommend her. Not only did she catch that my yarn was discontinued, she even showed me how to quickly and easily find a substitute without spending hours at my LYS.