Aotara Unleashed

Emily Woodhouse Extreme Adventure Knitting

Well guys, I’ve finally done it. After a surprising amount of work, I have unleashed my first pattern Aotara onto the Ravelry database.

I say surprising because, despite having written many patterns before, I’ve never done it properly. I’ve never made them other-people-friendly. Funny that it’s taken me this long to get my act together and actually publish. Anyway, I thought you might like to see my whole design process for it: from conception to release.

Where do ideas come from?

Honestly? Who knows. Brains are amazing things that can spend all day thinking actively about something else and then suddenly hit you with an answer while you’re waiting for the bus or doing your teeth. Aotara began life as a sketch on the side of a notebook.

I had snuck into the university library and was surrounded by people doing actual proper work. Okay, well there was one girl next to me on the long table who definitely wasn’t working. If you’ve been to university you probably know the type. They sit down in the gap next to you. They cover the desk with all their books, notepads and highlighters.  Carefully position their Macbook Air ontop… and proceed to spend the next 15min flicking through Facebook on their smart phone. WHY?! Why pretend to work? To paraphrase a small green philosopher, “Work or don’t work: there is no try”.

Anyway, mini-rant aside, I was merrily designing Celtic knots for knitting while everyone around me was in work mode. Well why not, eh?

The next step, as you can see from the side is to start to chart. Once you’ve got a rough idea of how the knot converts to stitches you can do the chart properly. But, personally, I like to play around a bit before I hit the graph paper…


Making a Pattern

Once I’m happy with how the knot translates into stitches, I hit the graph paper. Instead of knitting graph paper, I make my own 3×2 rectangles on normal graph paper. Sure, it takes a bit of time, but it’s actually quite therapeutic. Plus it means I have nice, big, readable grids.

Fortunately, I’m quite a visual person, so I can just read the pattern straight off the chart I draw. But, I’m also a Mathematician, so I like to keep track of the topological interlacing of the knots. Knowing whether it is one continuous band (read: homeomorphic to the unknot), or several links stops me from making mistakes when I knit it.

There is only one solution: colouring pencils.

So the result is several sheets of brightly coloured lines that makes the cable pattern jump out a mile.


Of course, you have to be pretty certain that you got it right the first time. Else the coloured smudges of attempt-to-rub-out-colour will ruin the background.

Computerify It

Okay, so I could have written digitise, but whatever. This step took me soooo long. Seriously. I scanned in all of the sheets of pattern, but I hadn’t actually knitted it with the repeat in the same place as the edge of the paper. So there was cutting and sticking galore on my computer.

Then I decided that it wasn’t really clear enough just scanned in, so I took out my tablet (archaic: ‘computer mouse shaped like a pen’ ) and got drawing. Endless lines, floodfills and dots later, I finished. It was perfect.

And then realised I’d mis-crossed half of the cables.


Actually why?

After a few moments of bitter despair, I set about flipping sections of the pattern. But here’s the problem: I’d drawn the whole grid by hand, copied it onto the computer by hand and the end result was not exactly uniform. So when I flipped small sections over, the lines didn’t all match up.

Knitter, I hope you can forgive me for not doing it all again.

Prettify It

An equally non-existent word that seems to be accepted on spell check ?! Anyway, the next step is to make this almost beautiful chart into a full on knitting pattern. I toyed with leaving it as a chart with a few basic instructions… but no. I wrote the whole lot out in knits and purls. For you.

After that it was just a case of choosing photographs and fonts. You’ve seen most of the pictures already in Apples, Gardens and Aotara and perhaps they’re not as perfect as I’d like.

But you have to start somewhere. Right?

Slap It On Ravelry

The last and most exciting step was putting it up on Ravelry. The whole process is very well documented (thank heavens) so it was pretty straightforward to do.

All that was left was to sit back and stare in wonder at my name on a design on Ravelry. I’ve been knitting and designing for years, but never have I uploaded a pattern. Why not? Well I guess it just didn’t cross my mind. But I hope you’re glad it has now.


Watch People Knit It

Well, I haven’t got this far yet, but you guys – I would be so happy if even just one of you knitted the pattern. I would love to see what you think of it and what your finished object looks like.

So here’s a shameless plug. Please please please please please at least click on this link to my pattern. Maybe even like it if you’re feeling nice (and you do indeed like it, of course!).

Thanks so much 🙂

Your excited knitwear designer,