What are you paying for when you buy an ‘original’ pattern design?
As a result of discovering a free pattern called ‘New Day’, which references the Barbara Walker treasury as the source of the ‘chinese lace’ stitch, I was drawn back into the Knitting Fool website which has a fantastic database of knitting stitches. Trawling through the collection of lace and cable stitches I found that the pattern on my Japan Sleeves is designated ‘Lotus Flower’ and that lovely lace panel from ‘Imogen’ is the ‘Frost Flowers’ pattern – also found in Barbara Walker’s stitch compendium. I think initially I was somewhat disappointed. As a person who has done a lot of pattern browsing (and a fair amount of knitting!) it somehow made the world smaller – much of the process of knitting design seems to be a cut and paste affair. But some cut and paste jobs are more skilful than others. And just because you can read a stitch dictionary doesn’t mean you will have any sense of style. I think perhaps the random lace generator available on Knitting Fool is a helpful tongue in cheek reminder of the value of experience and the role of the designer with a good aesthetic sense (whether you do it yourself or not).
I think Japan Sleeves is a fantastic pattern – so much so that I have started a second for my little sister. And there has been a great deal of work gone into it.
The construction is ingenious and the design of the short row shaping and keeping the stranded yarn in just the right place to be picked up on the next row is explained so simply. The swatching and stitch counts for picking up along the sleeve panels are perfect. And this is something that is particularly onerous when designing clothing patterns using lace panels. While the lace looks impressive to those inexperienced with lace – in terms of pattern design what constitutes the work is the extra swatches necessary to accurately design and size for the separate gauges in play at different points in the garment. And not only gauges. There will be a different drape or structure to the garment depending where you place your panels and in a masterful pattern this will have been tried out in different yarns and then tweaked accordingly.
So this is why some patterns are truly worth paying for whereas others merely give you a gauge measurement and yardage estimate – and in something like a baby blanket or wrap this isn’t really worth paying for ESPECIALLY if you’re only going to substitute the yarn anyway.
So I am always on the lookout for more patterns like Joji’s and award favourites with a place in my new bundle: Perfect Patterns!
And for the time being, the Japanese lace on my needles will be this burgeoning baby blanket in soft and slinky (or is that slippery slidey!) bamboo viscose. (*spoilers!*)