Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How Not To Design A Knitting Pattern

Over Christmas I started knitting something new. Not just a new project. Not just a new yarn. I started to make up a new pattern. Obviously (I say obviously - turns out this was only obvious to me in hindsight) this hasn't been as straight forward as just knitting from someone else's pattern; I'm trying to design some gloves, and am pretty sure I've gone about it all the wrong way. There are plenty of guides out there on how to write a knitting pattern, but from my limited experience I give you:

How NOT To Design A Knitting Pattern

1. Guess

If you're trying not to design a knitting pattern then guessing is a great way forward. Need to know how many extra stitches to add as you work the base of your thumb, and how many rows you need to increase those stitches over? Don't take any measurements and definitely don't work out your gauge. Guess! That way you can have the joy of knitting your thumb many times over.

2. Be Indecisive

You may have a rough idea in your mind how this might look and that's plenty to get you started. By no means should you swatch variations on your pattern to see how it affects the look before you start knitting properly. When wondering whether the pattern would look best over 30 stitches or 40 its best to not decide until you're part way through making the finished article, and then to go for 35 instead.

3. Design purely for you

Because if it fits you, of course it will fit everyone else. No thought at all is needed on how to produce different sizes or shapes to suit different people.

4. Just Start Knitting

There's nothing more conducive to getting the design right than thoughts of "I've just come up with a new way to do this, but that would mean undoing what I've done". Having a half finished project on your lap will always inspire you to stick with what you've got rather than making the right decision - perfect for the non-designer.

5. Don't knit at all

Finally, ignore your new pattern design. Don't think about it for months at a time. That way the fairies will come and design it for you. Guaranteed. Knit a jumper instead.

P.s. Yes, I've done all these things. Yes, it could be a while before this is an actual pattern. I now have a glove that might one day have a matching pair, was reworked many times in getting this far and is wonderfully soft and warm. It might also one day resemble the final pattern. I'm now going to take some measurements, knit some swatches and remember that I have an engineering degree - logic should be my forte, not an afterthought (I blame Christmas)! Shame it's no longer really glove weather, maybe I'll just knit something else... just for a little while of course...


  1. Hilarious! In spite of all the drama, it is a nice glove. The descending cables are quite clever.

    1. I'm glad you could make out the pattern. I almost added point 6: "use handspun wool that hides the pattern you're trying to develop"!

  2. It's a lovely pattern, I hope you get a matching pair one day x

    1. Thanks Jo, I'm sure I will... one day! I'm glad you like it.

  3. They are so warm, I'm certain. I wonder whether you continued to knit without patterns. Is it easy really? I just can't imagine that something tolerable could be made by me in such a case.


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