The making of a knitting pattern

The making of a knitting pattern

Today we invite you behind the scenes of our core business - namely the development of a new knit design, which eventually ends up in a finished knitting pattern that can be published to our customers in seven sizes from XS to 3XL. We have interviewed Katrine Hannibal, our chief designer and creative director, who gives us a unique insight into the process.  

The development of a new design and knitting pattern involves the entire Önling at one time or another between start and finish. It typically takes between 100-150 hours to make a pattern from idea to finish.

The good idea

We have several designers at Önling, who continually influence our design line and come up with inspiration and new ideas. Katrine Hannibal herself, however, is behind the vast majority of our over 120 patterns and she is always involved in the process without exception. It all starts with a good idea.

“I find inspiration for my new designs in many places; on the street in Denmark and abroad, in old magazines and through Instagram. But when I really have to think creative thoughts, I go away to my cottage near Skagen in the North of Denmark. Here I find the tranquility I can’t find anywhere else, and the crazy beautiful and raw nature inspires me more than anything else. Here I have made the first notes and sketches for several of Önlings designs which the names of the models also reveal; Vesterhav Sweater, Skagen shawl and Vesterhav Shawl to name just a few of them,” says Katrine.

Writing a knitting pattern is an art form

When the good idea is thought through and validated, all calculations and sketches need to be in place before the new design can be test knitted for the first time. The calculations are done in Excel and checked and done several times by minimum two sets of eyes to catch any errors and inaccuracies.

“We size ALL designs without exception in seven sizes from XS to 3XL. Based on our calculations, the patten can be written down, and that discipline in itself is an art. There is a massive difference between how we all read and understand, and a knitting pattern has to be understandable by as many as possible, while at the same time be true to Önling's style and language," says Katrine.

Now it's finally time for the knitting process

Only now it is time to get the new design knitted by our professional test knitters. This part of the process takes a long time. Both because the test knitters must knit, based on an entirely new pattern, which can be more or less complicated, but it is also here that all errors must be identified - big and small. There can also be new and advanced techniques, which we need to explain in more detail to the test-knitters during the knitting process, and this very often reveals, where we need to be more explanatory or insert a technical drawing in the pattern, in order to make the technique more understandable.   

“When our test knitters are done, the last technical corrections to the pattern are made, and now it is ready for several rounds of proof-reading by our talented language and knitting nerds. And we're not finished yet; Now the new design has to go to photoshoot, so we can showcase the whole design and all its best details to our customers. Before the pattern can be published, it must now go through a process of layouting by our graphic designer, so it resembles all other Önlings patterns in both setup and other appearance, which is important for our professional expression”, says Katrine.

It is also in this latter part of the lay-outing process that any hand-drawn, technical drawings, showing various knitting techniques, are drawn up to be made understandable to others than the designers themselves. 

Other ideas for being creative: How about drawing

Making a living from what you love

"And now we are almost finished," says Katrine with a smile on her lip. The pattern must now be translated into English by our translators, and then it is ready to go online in both Danish and English on our website and on the international knitting platform Ravelry.

"It's one of the coolest things I know - to design and think creative, new and innovative thoughts. But one should not ignore the fact that it is a long process from the first idea to the finished result - with a lot of "back and forth" and administration as well. But I absolutely love it and am so happy that I can actually make a living from my passion,” concludes Katrine.

When the finished pattern is finally ready, the marketing of the new design starts in both Danish and to our international customers, but this is a completely different matter, which you can hear more about some other day.

You can have a look at all Önlings designs here.

By Signe Kamper Kankelborg, PR and Communication, Önling