I love a cocoon cardi, shrug, wrap, whatever you want to call it. They are so simply constructed and so practical. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows I am a believer that everything in my home should be beautiful or functional, preferably both! To mark the release of this new free crochet pattern, I thought I would take the opportunity to share my design process for the Heart Lines Shrug.
I have been wanting to design a cocoon shrug for a while, but was waiting until I could find a style which I hadn’t already seen. The construction of this garment is very simple so for me it’s all about the texture of stitch pattern. Sometimes I have a design in my head for months or years before I actually start work on it. It was only when I began to design this stitch pattern (initially for a poncho!) that I realised it was just what I wanted in a shrug. I love how designs so often come together by serendipity – it’s one of the benefits of lots of trial and error! The design process varies for me each time. Sometimes I’m inspired by a yarn, sometimes I have a pattern in mind first, and sometimes, like here, things just come together unexpectedly in a moment of inspiration.
The Stitch Pattern
The Stitch pattern itself was inspired by artist Camille Walala. Last summer I went to visit the Camille Walala X Play exhibition at London’s O2 Now Gallery which was a visual feast for any colour lover! The bright colours, unusual angles, mirror tricks and the general playful spirit of her installations are right up my street.
Here are a few little snippets from that exhibition to give you the idea!
I have seen a lot of Camille Walala’s work over the years, whether on a wall in east London or as part of a London Design week installation. Camille’s work is so fantastically bold and colourful, it is instantly recognisable. Here are some other snaps I’ve taken of her work over the years. A couple are from a club which she covered in her art – a Walala-bomb maybe? The stripes and simple shapes just make my brain both confused and happy at the same time!
I’ve gone a little off track there! The point I was making was that it was Camille’s work which inspired the bold stripes and colour combination in this Heart Lines shrug design. I love colour but don’t often get this brave with combinations! I love all the lines and angles this pattern creates, especially the way they change as it moves so it never stays the same. I hope you can see the connection!
I love naming my crochet patterns. It’s such a fun thing to do. Though sometimes I get paralysed by indecision! My names are generally something to do with my interest in wellbeing and psychology, for example, the Lean on Me Cushion, The Connected Cowl, Mighty Mitts or they are more inspired by a ‘Say what you see’ approach – like the Up and over Poncho or the Beehive Beanie. The name “Heart Lines Shrug” was actually a combination of both!
As I started making swatches for the design (pictured) with Camille’s art in mind, I noticed that the the pattern made by the red and pink stripes looked a little like the lines of a heart monitor.
An important reminder that life is short and we really do not need to sweat the small stuff.
That think you’re working about… will it matter to you on your death bed?
I didn’t think so!
Once I had my stitch pattern, my swatch and the garment set in my mind, it was all about sketching out the dimensions, thinking about stitch repeats, applying the gauge to work out the number of stitches and rows. There was no grading (sizing) for this pattern so this was fairly straightforward.
Basically this is the maths! There’s a whole other post (or book!) about numbers so I’ll keep it to Maths here!
Once all that is done I could get on and start making the shrug. When all that work is done up front, it makes the making of the garment relatively straight forward. Well that’s the theory anyway. So often I find that something is not turning out at all how I thought. I’ve not considered an element of the shape or yarn properties perhaps. Then there is a lot of confused face pulling whilst I work out why it’s not behaving and how I can fix it. As frustrating as this can be, this is where I learn. Every time I design something, I learn something new which I can carry forward and pull out of the bag on another project. I try to remember this when I’m frogging hours and hours of work!
Fortunately this design is based on a rectangle so the only real construction challenge was getting my stitch counts right for the sleeves. Designers do this for you so that when you come to make the pattern it looks like it just naturally fell into place. It’s amazing how much work goes into making something appear simple!
The Heart Lines Shrug is quite a large piece so takes a while to make but is prefect for a project to work on whilst watching TV as it’s an easy repeat once you get going! I binge watched Unabomber on Netflix whilst finishing this – what a show!
Next the hard work starts! Writing up a patten is no mean feat. You know how to make the garment but can you put that down on paper so someone else can follow it? This is a process which gets easier with time. My top tips are to write everything down as you go. You think you will remember what hook size you used but you probably won’t! Also, create templates. Templates for the pattern layout, for your abbreviations, your pattern notes, your stitch descriptions. That way you don’t have to spend time writing the same thing every time you create a pattern. For me these templates are still evolving as I find new ways to explain things or to make it easier for you to read.
Once this is done you can get the pattern tested and tech edited as needed. I confess don’t do this with all my patterns, largely because I of the time it takes but also because I have a back translation type process I follow to make sure the pattern makes what it says it uses and is as mistake free as possible. There will always be some mistakes. No one is perfect. This is my last top tip – leave perfectionism at the door!
Finally your pattern is ready to be set free into the world! (I won’t go into the intricacies of creating PDFs, product photography, tutorials, uploading to various platforms and marketing because that starts to get overwhelming!!)
So there we have it! I hope this has helped you to get an insight into what goes into designing a crochet pattern. I love to talk about the making process so if you have any questions then please leave a comment or shout!
It’s uses only single and half double crochet (US terms) so makes a great stitchflix project too!
I hope you enjoy!