Building the Confidence to Release your Knitting Patterns
Lack of confidence is one of the biggest things holding new knitting pattern designers back from releasing their work. If you can’t see the value in what you do, it’s very hard to imagine that others will too.
Today, I’m going to share some of the ideas and processes that built up my confidence to start releasing my own knitting patterns. By the end of this blog post, you will feel ready to finally share your designs with the world.
Overcoming my Own Doubts
Whilst I am relatively confident in my own designs now, I didn’t start off that way. In the beginning, I had so many doubts about whether I was good enough, whether people would like my work and more importantly, whether anyone would want to buy and use the patterns I wanted to make!
Time and experience - just chugging away at it - does make a difference and whilst I’m not the most confident designer in the world, I have enough confidence to believe that there is an audience for my work and that it is valuable.
That is the place I hope you can get to! And I hope this article helps to get you there.
Learn as much as you can
It’s much easier to feel confident in your own work when you have a basic understanding of how knitting patterns are designed. If you’re lacking in a certain area of design knowledge, make it your mission to learn more about it.
Read blog posts, articles, and books on knitting pattern design. Knit a TON from other designer’s knitting patterns. Offer to test knit for designers. Watch YouTube videos and take courses (I’m working on one of my own right now - more on that another time!)
Growing up knitting Rowan patterns and later, learning how to design cut-and-sew commercial knitwear, my initial knitwear design knowledge was very flat. I thought of almost all of my designs in 2D.
Because the vast majority of knitters in my community prefer to knit in the round, I decided to learn more about how to design seamless garments. I bought countless books on the subject written by people with more expertise and soaked it all up. Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m a seamless knitting expert, but I feel much more confident in my ability to design something in the round than ever before.
You are more than capable of learning how to design knitting patterns. You’ve learnt things with little to no previous experience before. You can do it again with design.
Start in your comfort zone
I tend to advise brand new designers to stick to designing simple garments or accessories that are very familiar to them. If you love knitting socks, make your first design a sock pattern. If you knit a ton of hats, design a hat.
It can be very encouraging to work on a design in a construction that you are very comfortable with at first. It limits the possible problems and allows you to try out the process from a place of relative comfort.
That’s why I chose Rilo as my first pattern. It was a hat construction that I was super familiar with, so I didn’t face as many obstacles as I would have had I gone straight in with a sweater design.
try something new
That being said, so much confidence can be gained from challenging yourself. Once you have 3-5 patterns under your belt, take one of your tried and true design constructions and push it outside of your comfort zone.
My comfort zone is relaxed fitting, drop-shoulder sweaters knitted from the bottom up in the round. I could design those all day long! But I wanted to push myself further, so I’ve been learning the Cocoknits method of knitting tailored sweaters from the top down and it feels really great.
I’m still not 100% confident with it, but I can feel myself growing and expanding as a designer. If you want to see my first Cocoknits-style sweater design, take a look at Trust Me - a design I published with Making Stories.
Start with small changes to your typical “formula” and build upon your skills with something new. Be curious! What would happen if I did this?
Stop trying to achieve perfection
Naturally, you will have failures along the way - especially in the beginning. This is SO normal. Errata happens! Complaints happen! Do what you can to resolve it and feel encouraged that you will learn and grow from the situation.
Don’t let your goal of perfection stop you from doing anything at all. It is better to release a good pattern than to never release it because it’s not perfect! Stop waiting until you think you or your design idea is “ready” - the truth is, you will never be ready until you actually start!
Even the biggest knitwear designers out there don’t get it right all the time. The difference is that they don’t let their fear of getting something wrong stop them from actually doing something.
Don’t hold onto the outcomes too tightly
I’m not going to lie to you - most designers, especially if they have a small community, will not sell many of their first patterns. That is okay. Your goal at this stage is to do the work and build your community alongside it.
Even if you don’t sell many patterns in the beginning, you will have learned a ton about the process, possibly streamlined the process to make it fit your working practices a little better and started to build a community for your work. This is really valuable progress.
Go with your gut
I spent a lot of my life ignoring my gut, choosing to place importance on other people’s opinions and ideas over my own. Rarely did it occur to me that I might have something to offer.
Recently, I’ve learnt to start trusting my instincts. We all have great ideas and sources of inspiration and when we trust in those gut feelings, we will make our best work.
You have something unique and special to offer to the making community. Lean into your instincts and you will design knitting patterns that set you apart from other designers out there.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Do you have a particular gift for using colour in interesting ways? Highlight that in your designs - it will make you feel confident and it will allow your audience to see what kind of designer you are.
When you focus on making use of your strengths, rather than trying to prop up your weaknesses, you will feel empowered and in control. This is a big part of becoming a confident designer.
Colourwork is my weakness. I love how it looks, but I have no skill at creating patterns or putting lots of colours together. This style of knitting is extremely popular with makers at the moment, but whilst it’s tempting to try and tap into that market, I know I would end up feeling deflated and disappointed with my efforts. Definitely not a confidence booster! So instead, I choose to work with interesting stitches and special details - that’s my gift.
Find someone who can support you in your design journey
It is such a confidence boost to have someone to share your highs and lows with as a designer.
Whether it’s a mentor who is further along in their design career or a peer who is just starting out like you, having someone to help you along the way or cheer on your successes is unbelievably helpful.
Know that it is very natural to feel nervous about releasing your first knitting pattern. I think we all feel that way!
Remember that confidence is often gained by doing. You will feel much more confident about your work after you’ve released even your third knitting pattern than you were with your first. Every time a pattern sells or you see someone wearing one of your designs, you will feel that boost of confidence. It will spur you on to create more.
One of the biggest ways that we can knock our own confidence is by not committing to the things we say we want to do. If you want to design your first knitting pattern, stick to it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you - just see it through. The sense of pride you will feel when you finally accomplish it will be worth the effort you put in.
What will you do to boost your confidence as a knitting pattern designer going forward? Share in the comments section below so that we can all cheer each other on.