My Creative Process: Making Patterns

Yesterday I finished a prototype for a new item I’m planning to sell in my Etsy shop (what it actually is, you’re going to have to wait to find out!) It’s a great feeling, physically creating something that resembles an idea or picture in your mind. Since I began knitting, I never really liked following patterns so I naturally gravitated towards designing my own patterns.

I don’t know much about how other pattern designers operate, but each person’s experience is unique. For me, it starts with inspiration. I mainly get my inspiration from fashion (especially diy fashion) blogs, other Etsy shops and listings, and Ravelry. I like to keep a lookout for certain trends (in hopes that making trendy things will increase sales) and translate them in terms of knitting. For example, I may see a certain accessory that I like, and it will be made of some material. Then I get to thinking, what if it was knitted? That is where I begin to visualize the potential of my design. And as far as other Etsy shops go, I look through the knitting and crocheting categories mainly to see what other people are selling as to create something original. If I see something that is already listed that resembles my idea, I will tweak my idea a bit to make it stand out from the other listings. I want to know that what my shop has cannot be found anywhere else. The same goes for Ravelry. I use it as a gallery of knitted things and if I see something I like I decide I want to make my own version of it.

Once I have the inspiration, I begin to sketch, oftentimes, in my school notebooks. However, I do keep old composition books with leftover pages solely for sketching and designing knitting patterns.

Sketch and original design for my lace crop top inside my high school sophomore science fair data journal.

I make rough measurements, but I’m not one who really bothers with gauge. I know, it’s probably a bad habit for a designer. Then I begin to think about how to actually knit and construct what I want to make. I sketch out where to make increases, decreases, and all that jazz. If I’m feeling really stuck, this is when I do a little research. Say for example, I wanted to design and knit a vest and couldn’t figure out how to make armholes (I have yet to attempt one.) I will look up numerous patterns and compare how each one makes armholes and adapt and mix and match them to my liking. Once, I have a rough idea about the pattern, I just dive into the knitting.

This part is especially time frustrating. I will sometimes start a pattern over 10 times, making little changes each time in order to get the look I want, taking notes in my compositions book with each edit. In the case of my lace crop top, I ended up not having enough yarn so I had to make it into a halter. Fortunately, I tend to go for quick projects that I can complete in a couple days (despite being a knitter I have little patience for longterm projects.) After a few (or many) attempts, I finally get something that looks like what I imagined in my head. Once that’s done, I write down a clean-ish version of the pattern so I can recreate it later.

Here is the finished project after many revisions.

The process is meticulous and time consuming, but there is something satisfying about knowing you created something that you can touch, hold, and wear from a little thought in your head and a skein of yarn. Maybe that’s just the type of person I am. In middle school and even a little into high school I rarely liked to work in groups because I liked having the power to formulate and manifest my own ideas and creations. It was elevating knowing you did something on your own and you did it successfully. Even now when I work in groups on a project I put my best effort and creative energy into it and motivate my group members to do the same so that we can put out the best final product. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a perfectionist!

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