Behind the Scenes of Knitwear Design: Sample Knitting

Ranger Headband wideI’ve just recently submitted two patterns to magazines, which was a first for me. The first one was not selected, and the deadline for the second is not until tomorrow, so I haven’t heard yet. I have four more patterns I want to have written up by the end of the year, and will publish those on Ravelry if they aren’t chosen for the magazines. It’s a little nerve-wracking, submitting to magazines, but it’s not as bad as I had anticipated. I was disappointed of course, to discover that my first design submission was not chosen, but I’m still determined to finish the pattern and publish it myself. I’ve also recently gotten some very positive feedback from people who love my stories that go along with the patterns, so I will definitely continue to do that.

If you’ve never tried to design a pattern before, whether knitting or crochet, you may not realize what a ridiculous amount of undoing and redoing is involved. You may have an idea in your head and find that when you start knitting it, it’s just not going to work out the way you intended. Or you may find that the balance is not quite right, like in the headband above. With Rob’s help, (one of my primary design consultants) I decided to have fewer color changes, so the headband wasn’t quite so busy when compared to the Half-Elf Ranger Scarf it was designed to complement. The designing and knitting of the sample can take many, many times longer than it will for someone to complete the pattern after it is written in its final version.

Once your sample is finally knit, you have to finish writing the pattern. Hopefully you took very good notes about all the changes you made during the process! I’m usually fairly good about that, but it would be even more important if for some reason I wasn’t able to finish writing up the pattern right away. In addition to written instructions, many patterns also include charts, especially if they incorporate lace and/or cable elements. There are a couple of great programs I’ve used for this: Stitch Fiddle, which is free, and Stitch Mastery, which is purchased but much more powerful and versatile.

At this point it’s time for the tech editing and test knitting stage, but we’ll talk about those in a future post. 🙂

Have you ever considered designing your own patterns? What’s holding you back? If you’ve ever designed a pattern, what were your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?


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