A Beautiful Mind: Designing Knitting Patterns


Swatching, always swatching. And this…

I am truly in awe of knitting designers who can create –and most importantly, recreate– knitting patterns out of thin air with stitch patterns beyond stockinette or garter stitch (and not I’m not being sarcastic for once) and making decreases and increases as they see fit… without writing any of it down until they’ve knit the pattern a few times. Rest assured this isn’t my method.


…becomes the Star Slouch Hat

As my sister was looking over my design notebook the other day, she remarked that it was like the film ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (yes, with Russell Crowe) from a few years back. I’m not quite making calculations on glass and mirrors, but I definitely do a lot of sketching and measuring, calculating and recalculating. And there’s sometimes muttered curses. However, I have a new found love for my old school calculator and Excel. And I don’t think there’s a coloured pen that I can pass up.


A glimpse into one of several sketches for the Edinburgh Mittens pattern

Everyone’s process is unique. I can’t imagine what anyone else – like my sister- would make of my notes with seemingly random numbers and tallies and sketchy looking pseudo-technical drawings of accessories and garments. And she’s a knitter, so she totally gets the idea about the effort of designing. She’s designed herself. But my sketchbook does look a bit like a descent into madness. But a beautiful madness, I hope!

Just like making lists, whenever I need to remember anything important beyond my name and address given my rotten memory, I sketch to visually jot down what’s floating about my brain so I can stop thinking about it. Of course, then I can’t stop thinking about the changes I want to make. And inevitably I won’t have the desired materials at hand for this, so it’s a good exercise in patience for me. At least there’s the sketch for reference.

So lately I have a stack of Excel charts and a sketchbook full of ideas and seeds of patterns. Fear not, there is plenty more to come and so very much more to learn.

x Rena


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