Knitting designer series: I invited a few of my favourite knitwear designers to discuss their design process and inspiration and to share some tips and ideas too.
Thank you Kathreen, for inviting me to be a part of this series!
My designing process begins with finding an inspiration. Being inspired and excited about my idea is very important to me. I believe that when I love what I’m doing, it also shows in my designs. Sometimes it’s the yarn that inspires me, sometimes a combination of colors or a stitch pattern. My style is quite simple, I love uncluttered designs with little details to add interest to them. My favorites are plain stockinette, garter stitch and stripes.
When I have the idea, it’s time to find yarn for it. The weight, texture and material of the yarn determines how the stitch pattern will look. For example, Pomppu-sweater has leaf shaped pockets that need sturdy yarn so the leaf stem would hold up nicely and that the pocket would come out in a proper size. The perfect choice was Aran weight, very sturdy woollen yarn.
Sometimes when I’d like to have a very lightweight garment that drapes beautifully, I choose thin yarn and larger needles. 5200K is a good example, being made with sock yarn and US size 6 / 4 mm needles.
Also the color plays a huge role, I usually prefer lighter colors for the samples because they show off the stitch pattern better.
Next there’s swatching. I haven’t always loved swatching but I’ve learned to think of it as a part of the designing process. Some of my favorite designs are born when swatching. Baby Cables and Big Ones Too was one of them, I made a swatch in the round, combining cables and garter stitch and suddenly I realized it would make a perfect sleeve!
I always wash my swatches since some yarns tend to grow a lot when wet and the gauge can be very different between pre-washed garment and after washing it. That’s true especially with merino yarns. Pictured are my swatches for Roheline and Low Tide Ripples. It really helped to have large swatches for them.
Creating the pattern:
When I have my stitch pattern ready and I know the gauge, I open the spreadsheet and start the fun part – calculating the pattern. My sweaters usually have 5-12 sizes, depending on the ease of the garment. Some garments look better with no ease or even with a slight bit of negative ease. Some of them are at their best when worn with positive ease. It depends a lot on the personal preference too, so I always add a scematics with the actual measurements of the garment. This way knitters can choose the size that suits them the best. The ease also determines how many sizes the pattern will have. If the design is meant to be worn with positive ease, I write approx 5-6 sizes and if there’s no ease, I go up to 10-12 sizes.
When the calculations are done, I begin writing up the pattern. Also the sample knitting will take place at this point. After I’ve written a part of the pattern, for example the yoke, I will knit it to make sure the pattern makes sense. Then I’ll write the next part and knit it also. Knitting the pattern this way helps me to spot any possible errors but most importantly it helps me to add useful tips to where they are needed. After the garment is finished and the pattern is ready, I make a new spreadsheet for checking the numbers in the pattern. If there are mistakes, I correct them. Then I empty the spreadsheet and repeat the checking. I just like to be sure.