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

New Knitting Books for Summer 2019

Greetings, Knitters! I hope you are having a wonderful summer (or winter, for friends Down Under) and getting in some good knitting time. 

Do you get patterns from knitting books? Personally, I get my patterns from a variety of sources – online patterns sold individually, magazines I pick up in the grocery store, and a handful of go-to and much used knitting books. I know online patterns bought digitally from Ravelry, Etsy, or other websites are all the rage, but believe or not, some good knitting pattern books are still being published (and you can keep them all in one place on your bookshelf).

Sycamore Cove Knitting reviews the new ones in advance of publication and gives you the scoop on what’s new and worthwhile. Here’s what new and just published in knitting books for June-July 2019:

Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits by Barbara Benson. A very nice pattern book for the coming cool weather season. The concept of this book is lace knitting with larger sized needles and bulkier weights. The results? Quicker projects with more intricate, showier designs than you normally see with bulky yarns.

The Art of Circular Yokes by Kerry Bogert. This book of yoke sweater patterns give the advanced knitter plenty to sink her teeth into. The designs are lovely and intricate. Most of them are designed for small needles and fairly fine yarn. These are projects that will take a lot of skill, time, and concentration.

 One Stitch Baby Knits by Val Pierce. This is a nice collection of baby knit patterns. They are intended as “beginner” level patterns, but I would rate them as more “advanced beginner” or even “intermediate” level patterns. This is by a British knitting expert, and I appreciate that she took the trouble to translate some of the British knitting terms into American English. However, many of the yarns listed are those available in Britain; I only recognized one yarn readily available in the U.S.

 A Year of Creativity by Petra Hoeksema, Lidy Nooij, Miriam Catshoek, and Bregje Konings. This books is all about “craft dates” for knitters and other crafty people. The idea is to get friends together, share some snacks, have fun, and everybody makes a craft together. I quite like this idea, and it’s a beautiful book. Coming July 23.

And now time for the shameless plug:

The Prayer Shawl Chronicles by Cynthia Coe: Set in an Episcopal parish in Tennessee, hear the stories of women who knit and donate prayer shawls and the remarkable and remarkable connections with those who receive them. A fairly quick read of short stories, this book is great for taking along on vacation.

Enjoy your Summer Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles: Stories of Unlikely Connections & Unexpected Gifts. Available worldwide exclusively on Amazon and included in Kindle Unlimited. Paperback edition coming very soon.