It has now been several weeks since I started at Plymouth Yarn Company. I’ve been working closely with Creative Director JoAnne. Many of my patterns have been designed and made. It has been so thrilling to see the final product! The process to go from idea to finished pattern is definitely not short. I wanted to talk about the basics of how a pattern is made.
I usually get my ideas late at night, between half awake and almost in dream land. My sketch pad is right by my bed side just because of this! Usually my ideas come from what I observe in nature and from the past. I love mixing modern and new together to form a completely new and joyous knit; a hand knit that looks as much fun to make as it is to wear. I’ll sketch several versions of the knit I have in mind, tweaking each one… perhaps changing the trim width, making the collar larger or smaller, working on the stitch details. I’ll swatch the stitches I plan on using from my sketch with the yarn I have in mind. Sometimes, the swatch I make is perfect. However, sometimes it takes practice to perfect that one stitch. Like a fellow knit designer once said, “It takes many frogs to make the perfect prince.”
Once I have the perfect stitching and the best silhouette, I begin the process of technical design. This is where the mathematics become involved. Many options and questions need to be chosen and answered. Like, how fitted is this knit? What sizes are available? Is this tunic, standard, or cropped length? Once all of these questions are answered I can get down to the knitty gritty. I calculate the gauge and work it into the sizes and stitch pattern. Next, I tweak the pattern so that if selvedge stitches are needed, then they are added… or if a particular increase/decrease is not attractive with this garment, I will research a different or more attractive way to shape. If a pattern is really unusual, say a puffed sleeve with pleats, I usually will make the sleeve just to make sure the drape is enough and the pleats/shaping occurs precisely where I want it to.
Are you still with me? After all that is done, and the math is checked for accuracy, I pass the working pattern onto my trusty test knitters. They make the prototype garment and let me know of any changes that need to be made, or something that needs tweaking. At this point, I work very closely with the knitters and it is important that we understand what the finished product needs to be. This is so important, to help keep the integrity of the design as well as the future look of the finished knit. After the knit is finished, JoAnne and I schedule a photo shoot. Then the best pictures are chosen out of each set to ensure the best look for the knit as well best definition for stitch details. The pattern is ready, the picture is ready, and they are merged into a beautiful finished product.