WIP Wednesday: Making Patterns

Happy WIP Wednesday! Today I am going to talk all about making your own patterns and how to balance the frustration with satisfaction.


Inspiration must come from somewhere. Where you find your inspiration may be different from where I find my inspiration.

One way I get inspired for knitting projects is: seeing a picture of something (usually not a knitted something) and then dreaming about the object again later (usually knitted). Then I think, “is this something that I could feasibly do?”

Another way that inspiration often comes to me is just by looking at yarn. I have gone to the store and just looked at yarn, picked it up, felt it, looked at the sample projects made with it. I just breathe and take it all in. Then I go home empty handed. (Note: empty handed only works at chains like JoAnn Fabrics and Michael’s. Take me to a local yarn store and I will spend all the money in my wallet). I then imagine what projects those yarns could make.

Alternatively, I will look at some yarn in my stash at home and think about how to combine colors and make something new. I think about what naturally occurs in those colors. Most recently, I purchased four skeins of yarn intending to pair black and white and blue and yellow. However, when I received the yarn, I looked at the black and yellow and went, “oh I know what would look EXCELLENT with you.” Note: this is the second time this has happened. Same four colors, same intention (almost). However, this time my ideas were completely different from last time. That’s what happens when you use a different yarn and the shades are slightly different.

I also recently received yarn as a gift. I knew what the final product of these yarns would be, and I knew that I wanted to make my own pattern for them. But until I saw the yarn (purchased online at KnitPicks), I had no idea what that pattern would be. I plopped it down on my desk and just looked at it, and got ideas for each color within minutes. I then did some annoying math to figure out what needles to use, how many stitches wide it should be, and how many rows long. Then, I made my chart. This entire process took maybe 90 minutes. Simple right?


Wrong! Nothing is that simple! First of all, I made a chart for a pattern that I intended to use garter stitch to make the pattern pop. The problem with this is, I didn’t label which rows were right side rows and which were wrong side rows, so by row 6 I was already confused. I also neglected to double check that the pattern I intended to make as a mirror image was in fact equal on both sides. Spoiler alert: it was not. I went back and restarted the pattern about five times in one night. I eventually just set it down, took a deep breath, said goodbye, and came back the next day.

When it was time to decide what to do, I realized that I had memory of what I wanted the pattern to be. However, this was resulting in me looking away from the pattern and just knitting. The problem with that was, I wasn’t at all knitting what I thought I was knitting. Additionally, if my chart was a true mirror, it wouldn’t matter from which direction I read the pattern. However, because it wasn’t, this absolutely mattered. Cue more mistakes for which I could not figure out the cause.

Once I sat down and just looked again I realized all of my mistakes. I realized how to make it easier, and I did that. I improved upon what I already had, and made it better. Then, I went to work on another project that I have actually memorized the pattern for, and that was quite relaxing.

Testing your own patterns

It is generally accepted in the knitting world that you should not test your own patterns. I have always understood why; it is the same idea as writing a recipe or any kind of set of instructions. You know what you intended, therefore you will not catch any mistakes. However, it wasn’t until I started using my own pattern that I realized how true this is. I was making mistakes by testing my own pattern. I definitely needed to walk away and try agin later. I needed to give my mind a break in order to start fresh.

I also taught myself with the help of one (just one!) YouTube video the art of continental style knitting. I was working in seed stitch and I hated the way it looked and I needed to do something about it. I noticed over the weekend that I was starting to hold my yarn a little more loosely in my right hand, and that I was holding it closer to the needles than usual. I said to myself, “you might be ready for something new, but don’t you dare try it on this pattern because you will be so angry if you screw up.” Screwing up in this case includes changing the tension, which definitely would have occurred. Anyway, my seed stitch cleaned up very nicely and I am happy to have picked up a new style so quickly. Now I just need to work on my speed!

Finishing the project

Currently, there is nothing on my needles for this project. I will probably start again tonight, but I may also save it for the long weekend. I learned a lot for this project and I cannot imagine going back on any of that by jumping in too quickly- again. Right now, it is all about doing what it takes to make sure that this project is in fact completed. Don’t worry, there will be progress photos on Instagram, perhaps another blog rant, and much knitting love from my friends.

Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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