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November 2016

The three stages of knit – or my motivation for design

As part of the Indie Spotlight section of Yarnporium, I had the opportunity to talk to lots and lots of knitters which is always a lovely experience.

Because we were in a separate room from the main stands, I often asked them about the yarn they’d bought so I could do a bit of vicarious shopping. It also gave me a great overview of the wide range of beautiful yarns, colours and fibres on offer.

20161105_112954The lovely Elaine wearing her version of my Ardmore dress
Knitting magazine in front of an array of my samples
at Yarnporium

Chatting to people made me realise that something about my attitude to knitting and why I create patterns.

For me there are three stages to a great knit.

  1. Finding a yarn I want to work with. That could be a matter of feel or colour, it could be to do with a  combination of fibres or some other aspect of the yarn.

    _MG_6386The yarns I came home from Yarnporium with destined for new
    Top from Whimzy is intended for a shawlette, the other
    from Third
    Vault Yarns will be socks

  2. The pleasure of the knit. I want to enjoy making the object. For me that means there is always some colourwork, texture or interesting shaping in my patterns. I like challenges and I don’t like doing exactly the same thing on every row. I also enjoy seeing lace patterns and shaping develop or ticking of progress cable twist by cable twist.

    Wingspan1 Salmon Net shawl combines lace and cables -typical of my ideal knit

  3. Wearing a finished item. The aim is a finished object that is loved and worn/used lots showing off the yarn, the pattern and the work. Something that makes you happy on an ongoing basis.

That’s why my patterns are designed to be enjoyable to knit and lovely to wear, they are intended to share the joy of that lovely yarn and our individual skills.

Of course that will always be based on what I think it is enjoyable but I home at least some of you share those tastes.

Accessory collage


Vslb 1 blob

My stall at Yarnporium is about much more than selling patterns on the day

I have a stall in the Indie Spotlight section of the new Yarnporium yarn show this weekend.


As I prepare pdfs and head to my local printers, steam samples and weave in the ends of new additions, I have been thinking about why I am doing this.

The answer is about so much more than standing at a table encouraging people to try the knitted samples and hopefully selling some patterns.

It is about me pushing myself forward, forcing me to share the fruits of my teeming brain and exposing my ideas to public view.

“Exposing” is the right word.

I recently read a blog by someone who said they would find it hard to be a knitting designer because it took her time to come up with ideas. I am the opposite – if see inspiration everywhere from picking up a skein of yarn, visiting museums, to just colours or shapes I see as I am walking down the street. I have no problem (at least most of the time) of turning the inspiration into an item, I am always itching to be making. Of course, I generally want to be making a dozen items at once and would like another three days a week.

As an experienced tech editor and pattern writer putting the patterns down on paper and sorting some test knitting aren’t issues either.

PicMonkey Collage

My problem is getting the patterns out into the world in finished state where other people might see them and judge my creative outpouring. I will be exposing part of me.


Some patterns are inspired by memories so they can feel v personal

However, when I am working on a magazine commission the pattern gets written up and sample completed on time and oddly I don’t seem to have any anxiety about my work being seen – perhaps because the magazine staff have already liked my idea.

One thing I have realised is that I work best to deadlines, probably because of my background in journalism.

So why not set myself a massive, exposing deadline and book a stall at a yarn show to share my patterns? Hence I will be at Yarnporium.

Booking for the show meant I needed a plan both for the day and in terms of getting myself ready.


The first decision was what to focus on. Having worked at Yarn Shows of various sizes as well as visited many, I know one of the regular conversation goes along the lines of:

“Look at this wonderful skein of yarn I’ve bought”

“What are you going to make”

“I don’t know but it is beautiful.”

So I decided to concentrate on finishing (and revamping) accessory patterns that would work with those lovely skeins – so shawls, cowls, hats, gloves and mitts etc – and on the day doing something I enjoy ie chatting to people about lovely yarn and how it might be used. I believe that the ture joy of that wonderful skein is finding a pattern that is a pleasure to knit and results in an item that brings you some joy when you wear or use it.

The next stage was to look at the samples and yarn for new samples where necessary and check what would be feasible in the timescale. From that I had a list of patterns to work on, samples to complete and pictures to take – a set of deadlines that were real. And it’s worked, there many more patterns in my Ravelry shop and a bulging bag of samples at my side as I type. I did have to narrow down the plans slightly which mean I have plans for two gorgeous shawls to start soon.

Accessory collageI'm determined to keep everyone cosy this winter

The success of the weekend will not just be measured in whether I sell X number of patterns. I have already scored a success in terms of letting go of these designs and ideas.

I have also worked on a process of building relationships by making sure that I have samples in yarns that will be available at the show and talking to those yarn producers and dyers about what I’m doing. Those connections include Travelknitter, Third Vault Yarns, Eden Cottage Yarns, Easy Knits, Whimzy, The Little Grey Sheep, Baa Ram Ewe and Debonnaire. So if you come along you can match the patterns to the lovely yarn.

And it is about me saying I am proud of my work and that’s a big step in itself.