My designing process – The Birthday Wrap

The Birthday Wrap

me, looking rather silly, but wearing The Birthday Wrap

I’ve been kind of designing ever since I started knitting, but I never thought of it as that.  I remember making a head band when I was around 17/18.  I used to just make myself stuff without really thinking.  Remember cheerful chicken – I just made him up and then there’s the tiny i-cord mice and a hot water bottle cover that I made for several friends.  It wasn’t until I made the shawl for Annette’s birthday (The Birthday Shawl) when my friends at Loop encouraged me to write it down and publish , that I thought why not!!

My mum was my inspiration for my latest design: she has always been one of my biggest supporters.  My mum cannot knit or sew, but has encouraged my sister and me to be crafty.  I knit and my sister sews.  When I showed her the birthday shawl she was thrilled and thought it was really lovely.  She emailed all her friends with pics.  Now, my mum is in her 60s and a triangular shawl just doesn’t suit her style, so I couldn’t really make her one, so I resolved to knit her a longer version using the same lace-edging.

The project starts with a provisional cast on, so is worked from the centre out consisting of mainly garter stitch with leaves growing along its main body, in opposite directions from the centre and with a knitted-on leafy edging at each end. The result is a warm and elegant (just like my mum) oblong garter stitch and lace wrap with frilled lace ends.

The design process which I go through is very time consuming.  I start with the basic idea and then swatch stitch patterns – this one was particularly hard because I wanted it to tie in with an existing lace edging, so I must’ve tried around 10 different “leaf” designs.  Once I’d decided on the final stitch pattern, I then cast on and started to knit.  After knitting around 3 pattern repeats I realised that I wanted to have the centre panel surrounded by a similar “holey” effect as the beginning of the border, so I frogged and started again!  Thankfully I liked the new version.

Once I’ve knitted a design, whilst jotting down notes, I then have to write it up so that other people can follow my instructions and knit it too.  This bit is not as easy as it may sound. I usually make a few changes based on what I learnt on the original knit, so the first one is always slightly different from the main pattern.   I like to always use a chart and written instructions and, whilst it may seem simple, getting the two to actually mirror one another is never that easy (not to mention that the chart software I have isn’t that great).  Also, I find that it’s not easy to spot your own errors, so this is often where my test knitters’ input is valued the most.

The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap Patt's Mitts by Kate Ellis for Kate's Twirl

The sunny photoshoot

As part of the writing up process, there needs to be a photo shoot.  No one wants to knit up a pattern if they don’t know what it looks like. For my first two patterns, I photographed the knit myself, but it’s much better to have pictures of someone wearing it.  This time, I asked my lovely friend Annette (of the Birthday Shawl fame) if she would help me.  It was coincidence that I was going to her home that weekend and that she has a beautiful garden.  Annette was fantastic at taking the pictures, making suggestions and arranging me into position.  We were extremely fortunate that the weather was gorgeous – the first nice day of the year!

So, once the pattern is written and has accompanying photos, I have to find test knitters – I usually post on Ravelry for this.  The test knitters have their work cut out and do not get paid.  I think this pattern has been amended 6 times during the test process – not major changes, but clarifications and corrections.  I am very grateful to Vikki and Kerry for their hard work.

At the same time as the test knitters, I also knit the pattern again, following my own instructions. This helps to iron out any little glitches before publication.  This whole process can take months.  This time I gave myself a deadline, to coincide with a giveaway on the iMake blog.  If you’d like to get one of my patterns for free, take a look at her site: iMake

Now you’d think that that would be the end of it,  but knitters nearly always find some errors too.  When they do, I like them to let me know.  Every time I discover an error, I amend the pattern and then email new copies (update Ravelry libraries) with a corrected version.  I think it is only fair when people have paid for a pattern that you keep them updated.  There is an errata function on Ravelry, but you shouldn’t have to faff about looking in different areas to knit something.

Well, that’s about it, in a nutshell.  This pattern is definitely my favourite so far.  When I was knitting it, I thought it was ok – that was it, just ok – but when I un-pinned it afer blocking, I was stunned by just how gorgeous it was.  The lightness and flow of the fabric are wonderful (even though I say so myself – whoops trumpet blowing again)!  I do hope that you’ll like it.  Please visit my Ravelry page and add it to your favourites: The Birthday Wrap

 The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap

Take a look at my other designs here: Kate’s Twirl Raverly store


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