Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pattern Writing

I really dislike writing patterns.  I've done it for wearable art jacket classes that I taught some years ago and I've written patterns for knitted accessories I've designed.   It's always the worst part of designing for me.  I've come to realize that my dislike of writing a pattern is what keeps me from designing. 

I enjoyed teaching the wearable art jacket classes at my local quilt shop.   It was fun getting to know the women and sharing a love of sewing fun garments that were wearable, but not run of the mill.  I had some students who became regulars in my classes.  Writing the patterns wasn't the entire reason I stopped teaching.  In fact I found producing the jacket patterns wasn't that difficult because I was there to explain each step.  But, I still liked to make the instructions as detailed as possible so, once at home, the student could continue working on the jacket without trouble understanding the next steps. 
This jacket was one of my first classes and one of the most popular.  I taught it several times over the course of two years.  I designed it so that each section was a unit that was then sewn together to create the back of the jacket and then the front.  The sleeves also had options for different embellishments or techniques.  That was basically what the class was about, taking the model and making it your own.  Once you had completed a section, having learned a fabric manipulation technique or embellishment technique, you could place it where you wanted it.  You could also use the technique on other garments or quilts or pillows.  It was popular because it gave the students options to personalize their work, while teaching them some new things.

Unfortunately, these photos aren't the best because, as I said, I was there to answer questions, and the model was in front of the students, so they really didn't need a spectacular photograph.  The written pattern came along with the class fee.

Well, after doing a lot of sewing and designing I began knitting again.  Since I had some success with my jackets I thought writing and selling some of my ideas for knitted jewelry would be fun.  Well, the first problem comes with my reticence to market myself.  I have a terrible time putting myself out there.  I've always been shy and marketing and shyness aren't really that compatible!  But, I also found that writing patterns that were going to be sold for people to work on on their own was another challenge altogether.  I wouldn't be there to explain how I did what they were trying to reproduce.  Well, with the encouragement of my family and a dear friend,  Terrie Voigt, I decided to go ahead with knitting patterns. They are fun, different accessories that are quick to make. But, writing, formatting, and photographing the patterns was not something I enjoyed.  My computer skills are not good, and my dear husband helped me tremendously, making a template for the patterns and photographing the pieces.  Without his help the patterns wouldn't have happened.  As it turned out we produced some nice looking patterns,  given that we were amateurs at the whole procedure.  I have to say that Terrie helped a great deal with the first pattern which was a scarf using her beautiful dichroic glass buttons in the center of the roses. 

This pattern led to five others, one of which was featured in the second issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry.  I posted a picture of that piece in my first blog post.  I was emailing Ellen Sandin,  one day about a kit on her website, Earthfaire, and decided to ask if she'd be interested in the patterns.  I was delighted when she saw them and emailed back to say she would like to carry them.  All of the patterns she has have done quite well.
The Falling Leaves necklace was the first of the knitted necklace patterns.  What can't be seen in the photo is the peyote stitched tubes that are around the I-cord.  Also, I used my history as a sewer to create a closure for the necklace.  I ended the I-cord with a leaf.  I sewed a snap to the under side of the leaf and the opposite I-cord and that's how I solved the problem of a clasp for the necklace. 
The Belle Flower Lariat pattern, on the left, is the most popular one on the site.  It's a beaded I-cord that is fun to knit.  There are many variations possible with this pattern. Color, yarn, beads, and the way it's worn are all up to the knitter.  The last pattern that Ellen carries it the one to the right.  Once again I used the leaf pattern (I love leaves!) knitted into an I-cord and closed it with a snap.  Instead of knitting the beads into the I-cord, I embroidered them on in clusters around the necklace. 
I have one other pattern, a belt, written up and a few in mind.  I don't know if I'll write them out or not.  I'm considering it.  It's gratifing to have people like your work enough to want to recreate it.  I love the act of designing the knitting or sewing and then making what I've designed.  Its the writing and producing that makes it work!

I hope you enjoy your day and have time to create something you love.


  1. It was nice to here (read) a little bit about your creative background. And pattern making and writing are difficult, I know!

  2. gah! that bell flower lariat is to die for. fabulous!!


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