How To Design Knitwear for Men

How To Design Knitwear

Many of my knitting friends are fine with knitting the designs of others. But others seem to want to design. They often ask how to design knitwear.

QueerJoe’s Method of How To Design Knitwear

When I first started knitting, I was quite happy to just follow others’ patterns. Then I’d start to make minor changes to the pattern. Shaping, neckline, etc. But then I found I had a yearning inside of me to create new designs.

I started to gain an understanding of color theory that worked for me. Understanding gauge, and drape and fiber content started to become second-nature. I understood the basics of garment shaping. And also the limits of knitted fabric.

First Forays Into Design

I was first inspired by color. Yarns that were vibrant caught my eye. So, I started to be a collector. I also started to realize that some really talented yarn dyers really didn’t know how to best showcase their yarns.

I started with simple pattern stitches. Linen Stitch, Feather and Fan, Old Shale. It was interested to turn stitch patterns lengthwise. To combine multiple colorways of yarn in alternating stripes.  My first written pattern was an Old Shale scarf made with two contrasting colorways of Koigu KPPPM. It certainly wasn’t a “new” pattern. But I loved I could blend very differing colorways of a variegated yarn in a very beautiful way.

Then I started making garments lengthwise instead of widthwise. Especially scarves.

How I Start Now

These days, a new design usually starts with an interesting stitch pattern. Stitch dictionaries (promotional link), Pinterest and Ravelry supply me with most of my design ideas.  My yarn stash has plenty of different yarns with which to experiment.

Sometimes, I will be inspired by a great yarn. Finding just the right stitch pattern to show off the yarn without hiding it’s colors and beauty can be a challenge.

Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’ll be running out of design ideas anytime soon. A few ideas I have right now are:

  • Notched collar pullover with an intricate placket colorwork
  • Primordial sworls scarf
  • Mesh and Blocks shawl/wrap

How do you design? What have you got coming up that new and fresh and hot?

Current Knitting

The Subtle Striped Cowl is complete!

Subtle Cowl 10-11-20 01

The completed cowl ended up being 79″ in circumference and 10.5″ wide.  After light steam blocking, the drape of the fabric is luxurious, warm and soft. Though I think I will wash it to see if it will get even softer.

Subtle Cowl 10-11-20 05

While I modeled this beauty to show scale, this garment is not for me. I will either sell it, or give it as a gift.

This is a really great, mindless project. I will refer people who want a pattern for this to Susan Lawrence’s Striate Cowl pattern. I used a different weight yarn (DK), different needles (US7 or 4.5 mm) and a different stitch count. But the design idea was this pattern.


5 comments on “How To Design Knitwear

  1. Nice to hear about how you design. Lengthwise is really interesting! Susan Lawrence’s cowl looks wonderful. Great yarn color too.
    Best wishes for the week.

  2. Very good looking cowl! I guess I change things in patterns all the time, as I have knit for a while and know what I prefer. Haven’t been brave enough to try a “design”, yet, although I keep looking at a pattern that is… Okay… And think, I could do *something* with this. Who knows. Color is a great reason to collect yarn!!

  3. I’ve been fiddling with designing a knit jacket from a sewn pattern for quite sometime.
    I think I’ve finally perfected it with the help of Leslye Solomon; am off from work for the next 3 weeks so will start swatching.
    Looking forward to the challenge and getting rid of pandemic brain.

  4. Lovely pattern, and color-great job, after 45 years of Crochet/knit, still not brave enough to design…I applaud you!!

  5. Hmm…. before reading this, I would have claimed “design? not me!”
    I have tweaked patterns, combining one with the other. And I AM fascinated by cool stitches and yarns… never thought about how to show them off –
    THAT gets my attention – I love texture and color… mua hahahha!
    I. Must. Design.

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