Since getting into designing large circular-style creations, I have gradually built up a library of blank charts in Stitch Map format to depict the underlying structure of the fabric, and the placement of the increases, to create a centre-out fabric. Because of the enormous number of stitches in the rows, I have to break my charts into several sections.
Using these blank charts, I start by sketching on top with a pencil, but without trying to conform to the stitch grid. Once I think I’m happy with the flowing shapes, I then interpret these in Illustrator on a layer above the chart to define the colour boundaries. I try to avoid nasty-for-the-knitter colour changes (for example: in the middle of the triple increase or the round directly above these stitches). These would be easy to draw, but a royal pain to execute.
One of the aspects I wrestle with is what the knitting will look like when at it’s at true scale, and when repeated eight times around a circle. I’ve messed around in Illustrator, but it has proved beyond my tech skills to achieve a proper representation! I just have to envisage this.
I go backwards and forwards between sketches and charts a lot. Sometimes I have an overall game plan for the whole design, such a Zinnia and Blossom, but Mardi Gras is growing organically; I just have to stay ahead of the knitting. Which, as the rounds are growing larger now, is not such a challenge! It is very exciting not to know what comes next; the patterning evolves as I knit!
Behind the scenes we are setting up a Pattern-in-Progress club for Mardi Gras if you would like to join us! We will let you know as soon as it becomes publicly available.