Early last year I designed a sweater. With the aid of a Craftsy course I learned how to grade a pattern (that is to say, how to work out the maths to write for a number of different sizes). I already do it for socks with little difficulty but I wouldn't have known where to start for something as complex as a sweater. I swatched, I graded, I crunched numbers with a calculator (Excel being beyond me at that point), and I came up with a sheet of figures that I could knit from. I knitted. A sweater appeared. It fit. I didn't like it. Even though I'd designed it, and the maths worked, it just wasn't my style and I had no idea what I was thinking with that particular design. I also didn't much like the yarn I'd made it with, so I donated it.
The experience put me off for some time, until a design challenge came up on Ravelry to design a sleeveless top for an adult. Since I'd already got a few baby and toddler size vests under my designing belt, I knew I could handle the basic construction, but if I was going to design it for myself, could I handle making something to fit the shape of a woman? I took a deep breath, bought Excel for Dummies, and set to.
There was a lot of muttering involved, and a lot of frogging. I'm usually one to fudge a fix to an error but this is a fitted vest and there was no room for making-do. Honestly, I ripped and re-knitted enough that I literally knitted two vests but ended up with only one at the end of it!
It has taken me several months to be brave enough to actually write up the pattern as well. What finally got it done was working out what on earth the "concatenate" function in Excel does, and it was plain sailing after that.
Next obstacle (for that read "excuse to put it off") is that my usual technical editor is currently on maternity leave, and I want an editor I trust to work with on my first proper garment pattern. However, a fellow Ravelry designer who I have test-knitted for and whose patterns I have worked is also a tech editor and was advertising space for new clients so she is going to edit it for me.
The only thing left to do is work out how much yarn yardage all the different sizes will likely take, and then the pattern will be off for scrutiny.
Watch this space!!