Karie Bookish Dot Net

Introducing Mahy – Design & Writing Considerations

I have a new design coming out shortly. It is possibly the prettiest thing I have ever designed and knitted; it is also the first design that has challenged my ideas about what a pattern should do. I have been designing and writing knitting patterns for a handful of years now. I like patterns that look deceptively complicated, yet can be explained on an A4 page. I prefer to combine written instructions with charts. While I am a chart knitter myself (and the majority of my designs start out as a chart doodle), I don’t write patterns for myself. Knitting patterns should be clear, concise and inclusive. These are my pattern writing principles.

My new design is lovely. I knitted most of it whilst travelling around the United Kingdom: on trains, in buses and on underground trains. I found it intuitive to knit and the lace straightforward to read. After a short while I found I could actually work the lace without looking at the charts – the lace flows in a way that subsequent rows suggest themselves once the lace is established. So, I was surprised when I began writing the pattern and I realised that the written instructions made the pattern seem exceptionally complicated.

writtenThe intuitive lace becomes daunting and obscure as soon as you write it down. The flow turns into a Chinese Box structure of repeats within repeats within repeats. I looked at the written instructions – even as I rewrote them to fit my own style sheet – and I knew I had to axe the written instructions. I am the designer of the pattern, I knitted the sample with great pleasure in just over two weeks, and the written instructions read like a horror story completely at odds with a lovely, relaxing knit.

For the first time since I began doing this professionally, I am not going to offer written instructions but just a fully charted pattern. It has been a tough call to make (I know many people like written instructions) but I think it’s the right one.

So, having scared everybody with my tale of terrifying written instructions, I’ll share a little preview of the thing itself. It has been a remarkably lovely knit – when I look at it I still get a “gosh, that’s my work” glow in my stomach. Everything little thing about this design feels right to me – the way it was constructed, the structure of it, the design idea, the motifs, the yarn and how it feels when it’s draped around my neck. June 2015 014

Let me introduce you to Mahy. It’s the next installment in the Authors & Artists series and I blooming well love it. We’ll be doing a proper photo shoot soon – I cannot wait to share the story behind the shawl and show you just how absolutely gorgeous it is. Proper details soon.


18 Thoughts on “Introducing Mahy – Design & Writing Considerations

  1. emmajaneoriordan on June 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm said:

    It is indeed gorgeous, and I might even be tempted to the dark side of knitting lace without any written instructions! Beautiful.

  2. Shuna Marr on June 19, 2015 at 4:33 pm said:

    I’m a written instructions girl, myself, but I tend to rewrite them into my own way of expressing it in writing anyway. If I only have a chart I write them out into rows myself. So for me it wouldn’t be an issue. The sneaky peak looks interesting. Looking forward to seeing it in all it’s glory.

    • Karie on June 22, 2015 at 10:56 am said:

      And if you write them out yourself, I think that means you get a sense of how the pattern “fits together” if that makes sense? I like how we all approach patterns in different ways :)

  3. Inge on June 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm said:

    Smukt sjal! Smukt og roligt at betragte. Ikke for mange dikkedarer eller krummeluer. Jeg foretraekker et diagram! Er spaendt paa at hoere hvilket garn du brugte!

  4. Carol on June 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm said:

    The shawl looks so lovely and cozy. I am washing some Shetland fleece right now that looks like it will be perfect for the shawl. I can daydream about the knitting as I spin. Charts only are fine with me. Having recently designed a shawl for publication, I know the frustration of writing out the pattern. I think the charting took me longer than the actual knitting.
    Tusen takk for all the inspiration.
    Trevlig midsommar!

    • Karie on June 22, 2015 at 10:58 am said:

      Trevlig midsommer, indeed! It’s not so much a senes of frustration with this pattern more a realisation that written instructions would read like a Stephen King novel. Nobody should knit a horror story when they could be following clear, easy charts. Well, that’s my thinking.

  5. Jules on June 19, 2015 at 6:15 pm said:

    That is really gorgeous. Can’t wait, I prefer written a instructions but only because that is what I know, should really have a go at charts.

  6. That looks lovely! I’m looking forward to seeing more revealing photos of it.

    I do written instructions for just about all my patterns too, but there are some times when it just doesn’t make sense.

    • Karie on June 22, 2015 at 10:59 am said:

      “there are some times when it just doesn’t make sense” THIS! And I’ll revert to my usual style with the next one.

  7. Wow, that looks so beautiful!! I much prefer charts, so that’s no problem, personally. I can see what the pattern is going to do much more easily, so it makes more sense to me, that way. Can’t wait to get started on this one!

  8. Pamela on June 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm said:

    Can’t wait! Prefer charts. This looks beautiful

  9. Martha Bilski on June 20, 2015 at 9:52 pm said:

    Looks lovely.

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