Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's your pleasure? - Studying the Top 10 knitting patterns

Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox

Mulling over new design ideas, I've lately found myself thinking about existing knitting patterns: Socks, mittens & gloves, scarves & shawls, sweaters, hats... I'm also wondering what knitters (and crocheters) want more of, and what gives them that "been there, done that" feeling.

These days, one can hardly think about knitting patterns without heading straight for Ravelry. After all, it's ubiquitous, a gathering place for patterns new and old. And its pattern database is so wonderfully "searchable".

So I searched.
Harrisville Designs' New England Shetland

I searched all knitting patterns in Ravelry's database (Aug. 20, 2009), filtering out those rated less than four stars (out of five). The results? Telling, though not surprising. The following patterns comprise the Top 10:
  1. Fetching (fingerless gloves by Cheryl Niamath)
  2. Monkey (socks by Cookie A.)
  3. Baby Surprise Jacket (by Elizabeth Zimmermann, available from Schoolhouse Press)
  4. Calorimetry (headband/ear warmer by Kathryn Schoendorf)
  5. Clapotis (shawl/scarf by Kate Gilbert)
  6. February Lady Sweater (by Pamela Wynne, based on Elizabeth Zimmermann’s classic “Baby Sweater on Two Needles,” from Knitter’s Almanac)
  7. Saartje's Bootees (baby bootees by Saartje de Bruijn)
  8. Noro Striped Scarf (not designed by Jared Flood; he claims only to have written up how he made his lovely 1 x 1 ribbed scarf)
  9. Ballband Dishcloth (from ball bands on Pigsah Yarn & Dyeing Co.'s "Peaches & Creme" yarn)
  10. Swallowtail Shawl (links to page with PDF download of this beautiful design by Evelyn Clark)
Surprised? I'll admit I was, a bit...

Zephyr Laceweight Wool-Silk

I guess I was expecting a more homogenous result, one showing mostly socks and fingerless gloves, for example. Perhaps with a few lacy knits and sweaters mixed in. Mais, non! What a lovely surprise!

For the Top 10 list includes an intriguing blend of patterns for adults and babies, laces and solids, new and old designs. Most are relatively simple, straightforward knits, proving that a design doesn't have to be complicated to be chic.

And I'm thrilled to see that these are primarily classic designs -- devoid of tricks and fads -- that will last a lifetime (with good care and a wise yarn choice, of course). By classic, I don't mean to exclude the newer designs, like Clapotis, Monkey, or Fetching. Rather, these are new interpretations of generations-old patterns, garments worn by our ancestors to stay warm in cold, drafty houses.

These new interpretations, though, were created with a nod to history -- useful, yet romantic, fingerless gloves, and a scarf inspired by those famously flaunted by Parisian women, for example.

Peach Blossom Scarf ... on a non-Parisian woman.

Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury. -- Coco Chanel

Where is all of this leading? Well, I'm not entirely sure. For me, it's reassuring to see proof that classic designs are ever in vogue, as they're what I enjoy wearing and designing. How this information will affect my upcoming creations, well, we'll have to see...

But I want to know: How about you?
What do you enjoy knitting, wearing, giving, and receiving as gifts?
What turns your head when you see someone wearing a hand-knit on the street?
What would you like more of in knitting patterns?
What designs/techniques are you tired of?

Something to think about... Feel free to PM me on Ravelry or just leave a comment here with your answers. Because while I know how I feel -- I'd love to know more about you!


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1 comment:

Jenna said...

I just cast on a February Lady Sweater and was surprised to see there were over 6,000 of them on Ravelry. I felt like there had to be more than that, and at the same time, 6,000 is a hell of a lot of anything. Strange.