How A Crochet Pattern Is Like Great Lasagna

How A Crochet Pattern Is Like Great Lasagna

Is there a difference between a “stitch pattern” in a knit/crochet dictionary and a “pattern” written by a designer?  When my Minas pattern was released, someone noticed right away that I used a stitch pattern from a popular dictionary and asked how my design is different. Good question.  Let’s explore the answer…

A “pattern” is more than a “stitch pattern.”

A stitch pattern provides instructions for a knitter or crocheter to work a set number of  stitches in a particular arrangement. A knitting or crochet pattern tells how to use a set of stitches to create a finished object such as a garment, blanket, or toy. It isn’t unusual for designers to start with a time-honored stitch pattern. For example, the number items made with the Feather and Fan stitch pattern is far too numerous to count. After all, human beings have been knitting and crocheting for thousands of years. Even when someone comes up with something they think is new, there’s more than a good possibility that it has been done before.

Even so,  many, many other steps factor into the development of a knit or crochet pattern. A designer must come up with an overall concept, select yarn and colors, make mathematical calculations, determine the best tools and techniques for the project, draw complex charts, and write intricate instructions in a clear and concise manner. Selecting a stitch pattern is only one part of the equation. Plus, the designer may also be required to arrange for photography,  graphic design, and multiple rounds of testing and editing. All of this must be completed before he or she sees a single penny in sales or commission.


Minas by Angelia Robinson. Photo courtesy of Fairmount Fibers.

There are certainly knitters and crocheters who are more than capable of doing all of this. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most people who have practiced their craft for several years could perform most the demanding tasks involved in developing a pattern. So it begs the question… Why would anyone ever buy a pattern? Why not just buy stitch dictionaries and do it all yourself. Well, there are many folks who do just that, and they are called designers (whether they publish their work or not.)

Sometimes you just want to bake the lasagna.

Look at it this way… You could prepare homemade pasta, sausage and sauce, craft 3 types of artisan cheeses from locally sourced dairy farms, and painstakingly layer all these ingredients by hand into a Williams-Sonoma casserole dish. Sure your kitchen would be a mess and you’d be exhausted, but that’s what it takes to have lasagna, right?  Not necessarily.

What if you have neither the time nor the inclination for all that preparation and clean up? What if you just wanted to bake the lasagna? Well, you can get a pre-made one. Perhaps you’d select a brand with a gourmet pedigree, one with organic ingredients, one with a short cooking time, or whatever is most important to you. You are still responsible for preheating the oven, supervising the cooking, taking the casserole out on time, letting it cool, and slicing it up. You still get to eat lasagna — on your terms. (And you’ll have more time for knitting and crocheting!)

Delicious knitted and crocheted goodness without all the messy prep work.

That’s exactly what patterns do for knitter and crocheters. You don’t have to do a lot of math, swatch a bunch of different edgings, or test a variety of seams unless you want to. Designers do the hard work so you can just make the project  — on your terms. Select patterns you love from designers you trust, follow the instructions, get help when you need it, and you’ll have a successful project.

Knowing when to make it from scratch and when not to.

You would probably want to make your lasagna from scratch when you are  have the time to pull it off, and/or you know your audience will graciously accept any mistakes that may arise from preparing a dish on a learning curve.  Likewise, go pattern-free if you know you can handle the math and experimentation,  and you are open to countless bouts of frogging  opportunities for learning that are likely to come  up. This is how many designers became designers, and you may come up with something spectacular. Either way is fine so long as you know what your needs and expectations are in advance.


Bottom line… Stitch patterns and knitting/crochet patterns are not the same thing. The former is a resource used to construct the latter.  Are you in the market for a well written knit or crochet pattern? Visit my Ravelry Store.  And give your favorite designer, whoever he or she might be, a virtual hug today today.