DIY Knitting Design – When You Can’t Find a Pattern That’s Just Right

You may have heard that knitted vests are all the rage these days. I’ve seen quite a number of knitted vests and armless tunics featured in fashion magazines, though I haven’t really seen many in the stores yet. 

Honestly, I haven’t worn a knitted vest since around 1987. Would I wear one again? I just might. If I could find a pattern I liked….

With plenty of yarn at my disposal (my yarn cabinet overflows), I have many yarn options available. The problem? I can’t find a pattern that works. I searched high and low on Ravelry for a free pattern. But everything on offer featured complicated details, the dreaded short rows, or intricate stitching that would ruin my eyesight. The few I liked called for fingerling yarn (too small) or bulky (too large). I just couldn’t find that Goldilocks “just right” pattern.

As I’ve found many times in my knitting life, sometimes it’s just easier to make up your own pattern that works for you. In fact, unless you have EXACTLY the yarn called for in a pattern – which is rare – you might save yourself a lot of time searching through the multitude of patterns on the web by scribbling out your own design.

It’s not that hard to come up with your own design. Here’s my process:

  • Identify a favorite sweater that fits just right. It can be store bought and manufactured.
  • Measure it. Write down the width and the length of the body, along with the dimensions of the arms and the neck.
  • Knit a swatch and determine the gauge. How many stitches to an inch? Multiply the dimensions of the favorite sweater by your gauge, subtracting stitches for neckline, armpits, and so forth. If you’re off, forgive yourself and carry on. 
  • Use your favorite stitches to give your garment some zing. I usually do this as I go.

Do you need pages-long instructions and umpteen books to do DIY Knit Design? Nope. What I find most helpful are bare bones charts for top-down sweaters (telling me how many stitches to increase on top and how many stitches to put on a lifeline for the arms) and a comprehensive stitch dictionary. Here are my current go-to sources:

As a knitter, you have skills. You have the ability to make precisely what you want. Go for it!

Blessings on your DIY Designs, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

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