Design Inspiration: Patterns

I often get asked how I come up with my ideas so I thought I’d start a series of posts about my design process. I get inspiration all over the place and the process can be a quick one, taking a week or two, or it can span many years before it finally comes to fruition. Here’s my story of one particular pattern that sparked my interest years ago and just recently resulted in several finished objects.

Our story starts with Barbara Walker’s amazing Second Treasury of Knitted Designs. One particular pattern grabbed my eye and I marked it as favorite over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, I had a hard time in my test knitting to get it work so I set it aside after a few tentative sketches of possibilities. I keep a knitting notebook, so I made sure to use that so that I could easily come back to it.

As you can see, it’s a half drop repeat. It’s called Candle of Glory by Ms. Walker, but I’ve always felt it looks floral or like the top of a peacock feather. Initially, I really wanted to combine it with some leaves at the base and get a real botanical vibe going.

Here’s little zoom-in photo of one page of my notebook. Kind of rough, but you get the idea. And…that’s where that idea stayed for a good 30 years. Too much else going on: kids, career, divorce, career, house…you name it.

Recently, however, I my interest in this pattern was rekindled when I came across it in its charted form at the website Well! Let me tell you, that made all the difference! Now I could see what was going on, knit up the sample as written and then actually start playing with pattern to make it do what I wanted. The first thing I did was convert it to a circular pattern and then I started shifting around the locations of the decreases. Such fun! Since the increases and decreases are NOT paired and don’t even occur on the same row, this is a pattern that is a bit more challenging to mess around with.

And here’s my first incarnation! No stems or leaves yet, it was all I could do to get these motifs lined up and playing nice for some circular knitting.

After some more fiddling and frogging, I designed these fingerless gloves, my first fingerless glove pattern: Eye of the Peacock Gloves. I love them! And they were such a quick knit, I decided to make them again, but shorter and smaller, which I also included in the Ravelry pattern, btw.

But as you can see, the pattern still isn’t botanical; there are no leaves at the base of the flowers. So that was my next challenge, combine a suitable leaf pattern of the right scale with a single flower motif and come up with a complete plant motif. And throw in a stem too, that didn’t get lost in the design. This was a lot easier said than done. It turns out that there’s a reason that folks don’t combine motifs into larger units: it’s stinkin’ hard!

Much sample knitting and frogging and more knitting and more frogging ensued until I finally came up with the following motif that fit the bill:

I’m pretty excited about this one! As you can see, I have a repeat going on either side and just stems of flowers behind the one in the foreground. This is destined for socks (maybe) and a shawl (definitely). On my agenda: developing more botanical motifs for a whole bed of spring bulbs!

So that’s one of my design stories! I think my final product looks pretty close to my original. Of course, not all of them take 30 years, but I thought you’d enjoy the background story in this particular one.


2 thoughts on “Design Inspiration: Patterns

  1. Nice story! I enjoyed the whole process of how your designing takes shape. Very interesting! I can’t wait for more.


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