Pick a peck of pretty patterns

I’ve never had much trouble picking patterns. More difficult is finding the time to make the lovely things I have chosen. It’s easy to spend hours browsing ravelry where you can find thousands of patterns, many of which are free. In the time I’ve been knitting I’ve noticed a change in my pattern picking habits. In the early days I went quite often for free patterns.

Thing is there’s sometimes a reason the pattern is free. Often I think it’s an inexperienced designer getting an audience so that as their designing develops they already have a bit of a fan base to buy later patterns, which makes a lot of sense and also often means the patterns are fine. Sometimes it means there are errors, but with so many users on ravelry that tends to be picked up. It must also mean that if you don’t have an army of test knitters at your disposal you can get real people to do your test knitting rather than make to sizes yourself. Sometimes a free pattern means the designer hasn’t spent the time making sure the pattern is unambiguous, which maybe isn’t a problem if you are really experienced but it can be really frustrating when you can’t figure out what it is you’re meant to do.

As I got a bit more experienced I found that I wanted patterns that do things I don’t know how to, so I’ve started picking patterns with constructions or design elements that I don’t know how to create. Or with beautiful and otherwise mystifying stitch patterns. I’ve noticed there’s a contrast in my own designs which are beginning to feature more regularly in my knitting, and bought patterns. My designs are simple and fairly basic, the patterns I buy are much more complex. When I buy a pattern I have a bit of my brain that wonders about which elements of this pattern I will learn from and will enable me to improve my own designing.

Photo of a scarf on a manequin

Photo courtesy of Anne Hanson

My latest pattern purchase is Scottish Reel by Anne Hanson. I mainly buy Anne Hanson patterns. There’s a fairly good reason for that. I love her design style but I also love that her patterns are really well written. Clear, systematic, unambiguous. I absolutely don’t mind paying for patterns because I have an inkling of the work that goes in to pattern writing if it’s done properly. But because I’m paying I expect it to be done properly. I expect to be able to make something that looks how it does in the picture. I don’t mind unfamiliar knitting terms, I can look them up on YouTube, but I do mind ambiguity.

There are several features in Scottish Reel that I’m not sure how you do, especially the slightly ruffled edge. It’s going to be a while before I make it, as there’s all the other pretty patterns to complete, and then I’d like to spin the yarn for this. I’m sure when I do make it that the pattern will be really well written and I will be able to relax and enjoy making it.

I do often wonder if I am a typical knitter in this regard. Do you mind paying for patterns? What do you look for? And who’s fantastic patterns have I overlooked in my fidelity to Anne Hanson?

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