Skyscrapers and String

Is There Such A Thing As A New Design?

I have been quite intrigued with a particular train of thought over the last few days.

Firstly, I saw a notice calling for new patterns for for their Fall edition. I have been following Knitty since it started. I think it is brilliant, and it has been the launch pad for many designers, who are now major names in the world of knitting.

Many years ago, when I had been made redundant from a job, and actually had some time to myself, the owners called for designs for a book, and I submitted my design, but it wasn’t selected. The book became Big Girl Knits.

One of my ambitions for this year is to publish a design. I knit at a rate of knots and love to be different. I have turned out hundreds of knitted articles since I was a child. It is literally my life blood.

But I came to thinking this week, can there be such a thing as an original design anymore?

Another notice was published, this time calling for designs for a new shawl, for a competition. I started then to think, can there be such a thing as a new shawl? That is even more restricted for a designer surely!

Ravelry has 18479 shawls listed as of this evening. I found this number quite staggering.

Knitting is just knit one, purl one. Basic binary.

Formulas for shawls then add variables such as yarn overs and decreases of different kinds. Then there are short rows, pi formulas, spines and steeks. Then I could go all Numb3rs on you and start writing on a chalk board.

When will the new simply become the re-hash? How new and original do you have to be to be considered new as most things must be done to death by now?

Then I wondered, how much money is there in it if you design a really cool new shawl? Assuming there is still an appetite for new shawls amongst Ravellers.

I looked at the pattern database again and asked it, what is the paid for shawl with the most projects? The answer was the Ishbel.

According to my math, 12079 users @ £3.75 each nets the designer, so far, over £45k.

This is a serious market!

If only inspiration would strike. If only I could turn out a completely original and fabulous shawl for the competition in three weeks flat. Where is my fairy godmother!!! Or am I looking for Rumpelstiltskin instead?


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  1. * andresue says:

    Love this topic! I’ve wondered the same thing. There are hundreds of thousands of patterns on ravelry at this point. But, I guess knitwear is bit like art or music? There are still tweaks and twists in your basic formulas that make each piece its own unique work.

    I took an online class with a fairly popular knitwear designer who basically said that you don’t get rich designing knitwear. There are a handful of patterns that have made a small fortune selling on ravelry but the vast majority don’t sell nearly as well. However, I think a lot of people can and do make a living out of it. Which is an awesome way to make your living- doing what you love to do!

    And, doesn’t it seem like photography is almost more important that the design? Even on, their submission information says that they’ve turned away fabulous designs because the photography was substandard. If you can produce a pattern in the required time frame, I’d make sure you get beautiful photographs to give yourself that edge.

    🙂 I love your blog!!


    | Reply Posted 5 years, 5 months ago
    • * jengolightly says:

      Thankyou! What lovely feedback! And the points you make are terrific! Xx


      | Reply Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

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