For me, knit design is an amorphous process. Here I started with houndstooth (or a complicated variation of) and it ended up being a Fair Isle zigzag stripe.. How does this happen? There is no connection between houndstooth and zigzag.. But I probably would not have gotten to the zigzag had I not started with the houndstooth.
I will start with an idea of which yarn (weight/fiber) I want to use, from there I will sort through color possibilities, laying skeins or cones of yarn on a table and juggling them around until I hit something that feels “right”. At this point I will have a less vague idea of what I’m going to actually do with the yarn, whether it be a hat, socks, scarf, purse or something else. While juggling the colors I will also be thinking about stitch patterns or colorwork shapes, figuring how the stitches and colors might all work together.
From there, I take scraps of the yarn (if I have it, if not, then I wind down the skeins or cones) upstairs and settle in for some knitting. I will knit for a while till I get something decent on the needles, and decide if I really am enjoying the knitting or not. If the idea is too complex or simple for my current mood, I will probably end up undoing it a few times. It’s that magic combination of color, yarn, shape and enjoyment that have to come together to make the project a good one. It has to be interesting and exciting.
Once I have something that works, really works, then I will probably start over with new yarn, working from precise quantities and filling in my scribbles and notes to help with the pattern writing.
The odd thing is that I sometimes have an inkling if something will be popular down the line, and I have to absolutely be true to myself. If I start changing things to suit the market (or what I think the market will be), then it inevitably is less of a success. Now as time has gone on, some things that I designed a while ago, that I thought would be really popular have in fact become sleepers or late bloomers, such as the Lilley hat. I think this is one of the cutest things I’ve done, and it is just now “coming into its own”. Maybe the crochet revival has helped too, it’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare, some ideas just need a little extra time in the public eye.
And the complex houndstooth I started with? Well.. that is next on the needles, but I do have this one other little idea that I think I need to play with first….