Be Your Own Designer

"Design" can be a scary word. In knitting, it conjures up visions of measuring, swatching, and ripping. 

Those visions are valid—you will have to spend time doing tasks that might not sound really fun. But you'll also spend a lot of time dreaming and planning. Want a cardigan with a cable down one side? No problem. A pullover with a Fair Isle yoke? Done. A jacket with a collar instead of a hood? Check.

A design sketch from Mathew Gnagy's One Knit Design, Many Versions: A Guide to Knitwear Pattern and Garment Making      

When you are your own designer, sky's the limit.

To begin, you need to gather some tools. Here's a list to get you started:

—Plain paper
—Pencil and eraser
—Measuring tape
—Ready-made garment from your closet, one that you like the fit of
—Knitter's graph paper if you're working on a Fair Isle design (Google it—there are lots of free downloads for this) 

When you're working on your first design, it's nice to start with an existing pattern and make changes to it to suit your figure and taste. For example, begin with a simple top-down tee and add waist-shaping and bust short-rows. Or start with a hoodie and make a collar instead.

Or make a pattern larger or smaller—that's a challenge I give myself a lot.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The keys to designing or modifying a pattern are accurate measurements and a gauge swatch. You won't get the results you desire if you don't have both. 

Here's an example:

I want to knit a sweater and the largest size is 42 inches and I need 48 inches. To change the pattern the first thing I'll do is knit a gauge swatch out of the yarn I want to use. Say it's a worsted-weight yarn and I'm getting 4.5 stitches to the inch. To get 48 inches with a 4.5 stitch-to-the-inch gauge, I'll need 216 stitches at the bustline. (The math for this is 48 X 4.5 = 216.)

Do figure out the rest of the pattern, I use the measurements on the pattern schematic and do the same math to figure out how many stitches I'll need for the sleeves, hem, etc. And then I start knitting, measuring the work and checking my gauge a lot!

There are more intense ways of adjusting patterns, and at Knitting Daily, we want you have all of the tools you need, and Mathew Gnagy's video workshop One Knit Design, Many Versions: A Guide to Knitwear Pattern and Garment Making is an essential part of your design toolbox. Here's a preview to whet your appetite.

Get One Knit Design, Many Versions today and become your own designer!


P.S. Have you successfully modified (or designed!) your own knitwear? Leave a comment and share some tips?

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