My first pattern was Yarnshine, a triangular shawlette, which I designed when I woke up one weekend morning with a picture of it in my head. Usually in that situation I would have logged on to Ravelry and searched the pattern database for something that fit the description but this time somehow I just knew that I didn't want to find it, I wanted to design it. This from someone who had never designed a pattern in my life, and didn't have the first clue where to start.
As it turned out, Yarnshine wasn't my first release. That honour went to Speedy Snail baby sunhat, a free one-size baby hat pattern I worked up while I was getting Yarnshine ready as a paid pattern.
I know I keep saying it but I really never intended to get involved with designing patterns. I was always happy to browse the multitude of beautiful designs available, and also pretty much always followed them exactly as written. I never adapted a pattern or used different aspects of different patterns. The only slight amendments I might make would be to change the length of a sleeve or the leg of a sock to ensure a better fit, and I was in awe of (and also somewhat bemused by) those knitters who would use a pattern merely as a vague guide and end up with a finished object that credited rather than resembled the pattern picture.
Having tried it, though, it was as if some sort of creative flood-gate opened in my head. I mainly knit socks and shawlettes or shawls so it's not too surprising that those are the items I have most of my design ideas for. I would be struck with ideas for stitch patterns, or would see something in the world around me and want to knit it!
The idea for my sister's Christmas present last year became one of my most popular designs yet - Fossilised Ferns mitts and the matching keyhole scarf. I had a skein of my favourite Wollmeise yarn in a colour I loved but just can't wear myself. Golden Pear is a lovely warm gold colour, shot through with flecks of red. With my skin tone and colouring, warm colours make me look dreadful, but my sister is more olive skinned than I and looks great in warmer colours. It took me five attempts to get the fern pattern right. I just couldn't work out how to get the pattern I saw in my head to form in fabric but, much frogging and muttering later, the mitts were born, and the scarf soon followed.
It was there that I found out about the indie designer gift-along, or GAL. In its second year then, this event is about independent pattern designers coming together to support one another through a huge holiday gift make-along, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I made sure I had some more patterns out in time for the November start date, and also released Crosspatch mitts while the GAL was running.
The other thing I've been dabbling in since the Spring is submitting pattern for consideration to third-party publishers. I've had two designs accepted so far, one of which should be published at the end of the summer and the other in the autumn. It's been a different way of working, and not one which really fits with my own personal style of working, but it's been a good experience and one I haven't completely written off yet. I definitely prefer the flexibility that self-publishing has given me up to now.
So what are my plans for my second year in knitting pattern design? Well, I hope to release a couple of women's sweater patterns, maybe one or two more kiddies' items as well, more of the shawls and socks that I love, and there may be another Fossilised Ferns patterns in the pipeline too. I also plan to try more different techniques. I've noticed I design a lot of patterns where the detail is made up of textured stitch patterns, so expect more stranded colourwork and colour blocking from me during the 2015-16 design year.