Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipes and Patterns

Knitted Eggplant

Oddly enough for someone who uses a food recipe so rarely, I love knitting from patterns. There’s something very satisfying to knowing fairly specifically the end result of a knitting project, selecting the yarn, enjoying the clever construction and beautiful yarn, and getting the predicted product at the end. Patterns are definitely not for everyone, though. Today at my LYS, some spoke disdainfully of following patterns, as if they jailed the intellect. “I never follow a pattern.” “I just treat a pattern as a suggestion.” Are pattern-lovers mental sheep, or automata executing the steps of someone else’s intellectual property? Now there’s a fun idea for an amigurumi.

As someone embarking on her second year of knitting, I look back on last year and see the specific lesson that each pattern taught me: the baby hat taught me knitting in the round, the Girasole (Ravelry) taught me lace and how to read my knitting, Dryad (Ravelry) taught me cables, and I continue to learn from each pattern. I’ve also observed what pattern formats I like and dislike. Additionally,  I’ve found that designing knitwear is a great small business, and discovered different venues of advertising patterns. I’ve even learned the value of swatching!

Looking ahead, I find that I’m starting to want to enter the world of designing. While I would love to be one of those designers whose every pattern is worth sighing over, my goals are more utilitarian. Firstly, now that I have a supportive LYS, I would like to be able to sell some knits. Being acutely aware of intellectual property law and custom, I’ve been looking at the fine print at the end of my favorite patterns and finding that selling products made from the patterns are generally frowned upon, even from patterns that I paid for. Therefore, I’m planning on writing my own patterns so that I have completely guilt-free baby sweaters, toys, shawls, and mitts to sell for more yarn money. Secondly, I love to teach, and have always loved to teach, and a lot of patterns have nixed that too. Finally, as any other crafter does, I love to create, and I would love to see how other crafters take a pattern of mine and treat it the way I do a recipe: take it as a suggestion and creatively re-interpret it in unexpected and beautiful ways.