Focus on Design: Designer Inspirations

This post is the first of a week long focus on design ideas and inspirations for new knit and crochet designers. Now things are getting close to submission for the Designalong, I thought I'd have a week where I share a post a day with useful tips for budding designers. If you've been thinking about entering the Designalong (more details here), but have not been too sure about where to start, how to communicate your ideas or perhaps nervous about next steps after publishing, I'm hoping this helps. Even if you're not entering, I hope this might inspire some of you to commit your design ideas to paper and get pattern writing!


Meet Louise Tilbrook, a British designer with a portfolio that's full of textured designs showcasing some of the best hand dyes and independent producers out there. I asked Louise to share her insights into the design process. 

  Rosthwaite Socks  by Louise Tilbrook

Rosthwaite Socks by Louise Tilbrook

What inspires you to design? 
"I love to create sock designs which are beautiful, unisex and which are fun to knit. When I first started to knit socks for the men in my life I was struck by how comparatively few designs were truly unisex. As with a lot of knitwear, in general there is an amazing choice for women and much less so for men.

What key skills have you developed? 
Focus and persistence I think. By nature I am a ‘flitter’ - working on project after project but in reality achieving very little on each of them. Designing has forced me to develop my focus - working on a particular project through to completion - and persistence to keep on going even when things aren’t going to plan.

  Silver Birch Socks  available via pom pom quarterly

Silver Birch Socks available via pom pom quarterly

Any tools you can’t live without? 
Probably my Moleskine notebook. It is my bullet journal, diary, project planner - my everything. Oh..and my smart phone.

How do you start committing a design to paper? 
I normally swatch a few ideas to start with and then the most promising gets charted out on old fashioned graph paper so that I can tinker with spacing and layout of the design elements. As I have got more patterns under my belt I have created my own style sheet and also a pattern template. The template is great for getting me started as all the headings and different sections are already there - I just need to start adding the specifics into each section. Again - it’s all about the focus for me.

Advice for designers 
Read Kate Atherley’s book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers - seriously. It is so comprehensive and contains a wealth of knowledge that you didn’t know you needed, until you read it.

Study other patterns too - work out what it is about the layout and style of particular patterns that appeals to you and also think about who you are hoping will buy your patterns. If writing a pattern aimed at beginners you may well structure it differently than if you are aiming it at the more advanced knitter. 

In the end though, the best advice I can give is just to go for it. We all have a natural inclination to censor ourselves and to negatively compare our work to others. Putting your work ‘out there’, on show for all to see is daunting but the rewards you get back from seeing your work in print and completed projects repays you many times over."


A huge thank you to Louise for taking the time to answer these questions and inspire us all. Tomorrow's inspiration will have you feeling passionate about spreadsheets and eager to swatch- honestly!