Design Process: Inspiration

Where do I find inspiration to design knitwear?

It may depend on personal preferences, some may find it easy to decide on a design just from their “inside” world, from what’s going on in their mind. Some need more Inspiration from the “outside” world.

There is no right or wrong, there is no better way, there is just YOUR way of doing it. So don’t think less of you, just because one specific way isn’t working for you. Try another, try different ways, until you find that path that is yours! You will find it. If you want to design your own knitwear – believe in yourself. If you can’t, I will do it for you: I believe in you and will help you to get there.

Me, in a handmade dress

To me, there was this creator sleeping inside of me for a long time. It peeked out a lot, when I designed and sewed some dresses. The one you see on the image is one, my best friend and I designed together – some 20-ish years ago.
I loved the idea of creating my own wardrobe, but I can be a lazy person. Sewing didn’t happen for me, with all the stuff I had to get out, each time I wanted to sew something. Too much effort for a very limited room space.

What does that have to do with finding inspiration, you ask?

Everything! You look at that picture and maybe you think “I want something like that, but I would do it this way…” or “I would change this… about the dress”. That’s the moment, when you feel inspired. You have the vague idea – you just have to grab it.
Maybe the picture doesn’t speak to you at all and that is totally ok, too. It could be something in the text you read, that speaks to you and sparks an idea. Inspiration doesn’t have to come from something visual.

In General

Sometimes an idea evolves in a moment most unexpected, when you didn’t really think about it. So let the inspiration come to you. If you don’t feel it by just looking at things, collect ideas and then let the ideas sit for a while, before acting on them.

The important thing for me was, that I wrote ideas down, using words or sketches – anything that helped my brain process the thought. And next time I looked at my notes, there might have been another idea waiting there to explore some more.
By now, I have lots of ideas in line and waiting to be designed properly, some are vague, some are more planned out.

Let’s take a look at visual possibilities to get inspired.

These could be:
• Stitch Dictionaries
• Fashion Magazines/ Books (doesn’t have to be about knitwear)
• Pinterest
• Instagram

Stitch Dictionaries

a blanket I designed, with combined stitch patterns

This is one of my favorite ways of looking for inspiration. Especially when I first started knitting, it helped a lot. I looked through a (German) book and searched for a stitch combination that spoke to me. When I found it, I incorporated it into a pattern and most likely changed it at least a little or combined it in a different way. Sometimes I would just take one element out of the stitch pattern.

A sweater design, inspired by the Japanese knitting bible.

Recently I have been looking into the Japanese stitch bibles and found them highly inspirational. Although the Japanese knitting abbreviations were a whole new world to me. (Not too beginner friendly.)
Also: I marked everything with post its that I found interesting and would like to explore more in the future. This way, I wouldn’t have to go through the whole book(s) every time. In the end there were plenty of markers, which made me realize, that I had enough inspiration for several things to knit.

Fashion Magazines/Books

Anything that speaks to you. It might be the colors, that you love, a color combination or the way colors are organized.
It might be the way a garment or accessory fits the person, that your eyes gravitate to.
Take all that into consideration and write it down! Write down the color combos you enjoyed, the fit you liked, etc.


Great, when you’re looking for inspiration on a specific topic. Just search for a term and see where that gets you. Currently I am not using Pinterest much, but it might the platform for you, creating your own mood boards, giving you loads of visual input.


inspired by clouds

Similar but very different to Pinterest. Use Hashtags to find inspiration on specific topics or follow profiles you find inspiring. I tend to find inspiration via hashtags or profiles that have nothing to do with knitting. The Blue sweater on the image for example was inspired by a couple of photos of cloudy skies. Again: you never know where inspiration strikes!

If you need a different approach, check out Christinas design process on inspiration to idea.

Or Katharinas example of a design process for her “sunset at the sea” wrap

Also, there are more articles coming soon, covering the different steps of the design process – stay tuned!
Leave a comment or question you might have 🙂

Love, Sarah

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