5 Surprise Observations Revealed by Knitting Someone Else’s Design

Filed in Out of Our Head by on May 28, 2015 1 Comment

You may not have ever thought about it, but as a knitwear designer, it is often rather rare for me to just sit and knit purely for the enjoyment of it – let alone follow someone else’s pattern.

This is not at all to say that I don’t enjoy knitting. I absolutely still do! But almost all of my knitting has purpose beyond enjoyment or relaxation. As a professional in the knitting industry, knitting time is often used for creating new designs, prepping for class, trying out techniques. Occasionally I will cast on something “just for me,” but that only happens once every year or two. But knitting from someone else’s pattern is such a distant memory, I can’t tell you the last time it happened. That is, until now!

As Kellie and I were considering design ideas for next month’s EduKnit topic of lace, we discovered that our Virtual Assistant, Jess, had a fun design we would like to feature. So we negotiated for shared rights to the pattern so it could now be published under the 2S2P pattern line. This gave me the opportunity to knit our sample and thus work from someone else’s pattern.

In the process I was able to make a number of revealing personal observations. Some are more surprising than others, but each taught me a little more about myself, my knitting style and things to consider in designing in the future.

Observation #1: I can never do it just as it is written.

When I launched my entrelac book years ago, I asked my knitting teacher friends to knit up a pair of the slipper socks and wear them to the PJ Party that weekend. At least one friend struggled. But then she pointed out that designers would rather write directions than follow them!

I always thought I was good at following instructions. What I discovered is that I do read the instructions. But once I have processed them, I am more than happy to make adjustments to specifics based on my own experience and preferences!

Observation #2: The designer hat is always on.

Although Jess had written a very good pattern, I immediately wanted to make (and did make) several subtle changes to the design to make the whole thing a bit more balanced. Because the socks have a left and a right, I really wanted each sock to be a true mirror opposite of the other. In my version, the second sock will start a half repeat up the pattern to create mirroring. Also, I altered the stitch pattern slightly so all decreases would be mirrors of one another.

I have never considered myself to be that detailed oriented, but I guess I am. If you would have asked if this is the kind of thing I do, I would deny it, but evidently I would also be mistaken!

Observations #3: Too many words make me extremely uncomfortable.

In her original version, Jess has given very detailed instructions for every aspect of the design. When I first looked at the pattern, I panicked a bit thinking it would be too complicated. But as I delved in further I realized that she had included lots of white space as well as quite a bit of supplementary information.

As someone who is not really attracted to reading as a pleasure activity combined with the need to read all the instructions first, too many words scare me. I didn’t actually realize that I had such a strong negative prejudice, but apparently I do.

Observation #4: It takes longer to memorize a pattern that is not your own.

I have always been able to rather quickly get a pattern repeat memorized. I am sure it is a combination of my ability to read my stitches, unique gift to quickly discern patterns, and love of rhythm and counting. However, it took quite a bit longer to get this fairly straightforward pattern lodged into my brain.

As I considered it further I realized that the time researching, swatching and designing all are part of the memorization time. It just isn’t quite as obvious as the knitting time. So although it felt like it took longer than normal, I really don’t think it did. I just didn’t have the extra time that usually comes with my own design.

Observation #5: Tighter knit socks are better….I think.

I may have mentioned before I have not really been a fan of knitting socks. Not for any real reason that I can identify other than I don’t get the satisfaction from wearing them that most people seem to enjoy. These socks I knit to gauge (as any good sample knitter will do) and that created a tighter fabric that I have used in the past. I think this might help me enjoy my socks more.

However, I have a serious cankle (calves that extend all the way down to the ankles) issue. So typical crew length socks are never as comfortable as I would like them to be. They are either too tight, slip down, or both! The jury is still out on this pair, but I am holding out hope.

Doing Something Different

The most important observation wasn’t actually a surprise but more of a reminder. It is important to step out of your routine and onto unfamiliar ground from time to time. Learning and new experiences only come from doing something new and different. I will be returning to my world as a designer, but hopefully bringing along some new insights along with me.

What is something you have learned about yourself when you stepped out of your box and did something a little different?

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