Designing a knitting pattern: The learning curve

As I had written a few weeks ago, I have started working on my first knitting chart / pattern. My hope is to be able to design a simple, knitted travel mug cozy featuring a few sheep grazing on a hill.

My test knitting has been slow because I’m using fingering weight yarn and I have been picking it up and putting it down quite a lot. I have also started over twice, of course (it’s very rare that I can get my knit right on the first try).

Even though I’ve only gotten past knitting up a few clouds, I’ve learned a few things so far that may change the way I knit this and what the final pattern becomes.

1. I probably shouldn’t wing the design as I go. Like I had mentioned in my previous post, my gauge using the fingering weight yarn for this mug cozy is much different than the gauge I had used for my initial design (based off of worsted weight yarn used on previously created mug cozies). Instead of counting my stitches and altering my color chart, I started winging it.

It seemed easy at first but now that I’ve finished a few clouds, I don’t like the way they look (not fluffy and round enough). If the clouds didn’t turn out well when winging it, I doubt the sheep or hills will.

Using a fingering weight sock yarn, I’ve gotten about 3 inches knitted. Like I said, gauge is important, even for a mug cozy. Travel mug cozies should probably only be 4 inches tall. So now that I’ve only got clouds, there’s definitely no room for sheep. I need to go back to the drawing board.

An example of puckered knitting caused by tight floating yarn
Floats are too tight in some places, causing puckering on the knitting around the cloud edges

2. I need more experience and practice in colorwork knitting. As I started making color changes that were 2 inches apart, I noticed I had a lot of yarn being carried around the inside of the mug cozy. It is a huge mess and I’m pretty sure it would be quite difficult to put this cozy onto a mug without having to push, shove and coddle the yarn on the inside into place. It’s not practical and not even worth continuing if I can’t fix this mess.

Too much floating going on in this knitted cozy
Too much floating going on in this knitted cozy, it’s a huge mess in there!

I’ve also learned that keeping your floats (the colors not being used at the time that are brought along the back of the knitting) on double pointed needles is difficult when the color break spans two needles. This article from Knitty has some good tips on how to weave in your yarn along the back if you have longer stretches of color. This is something I will definitely need to practice.

Knitted Cloud
Seed stitched cloud, with one row mucked up near the top (woops!)

3. Colorwork doesn’t need to be in all stockinette stitch. I had a few rows of clouds on my needles before I realized that some seed stitch would make for a really fluffy-looking cloud. Knit 1, purl 1, then knit the purls and purl the knits on the next row.

You can see from the picture that I mucked up one row, but since I need to start over again anyway, I guess that’s okay! I love how fluffy and textured the clouds are just by adding the seed stitch.

I was excited to be able to design in more than just a color change. I have made one hat in the past without a pattern but other than that I stick to patterns because I haven’t had much confidence in the past that I knew what I was doing enough to go out on my own.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of this adventure. I’m hoping I can finish a new chart this afternoon and re-start my test knit again tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Read more about my adventure in creating my first knitting pattern: