I gave up patterns.





I’m bored with ‘em. I have always felt guilty about using them – I don’t qualify it as an artistic endeavor if I am simply copying someone else’s work. I see the need for them in the beginning stages of knitting, but at this point I have learned enough about the craft to do some freestyling. Besides, I would NEVER consider using any kind of pattern or guide in any other art medium. Paint-by-numbers? Copy-and-paste.

I think this may be what separates the artists from the crafters.

Hmmm… so I agree with you on a variety of levels and disagree on others! The thing about knitting is that while it is absolutely an art form, it is also a science.

Knitting requires the skills of dexterity and coordination of your hands to physically create a garment. There are some who would argue that the development of these skills is artistry.  Now that being said – I think there is a difference between a knitter and a designer, designing for sure takes more creativity.  Think about music for an example – I learned to play the piano as a child and I can play Bach, Rachmaninoff, etc.  Because I have the skills to play the piano, I am considered a pianist -a musician.  However – I am playing music that someone else wrote, therefor I am not a composer.  I don’t think it is fair to say knitters aren’t artists just b/c they are not all designers.  But again, that depends on how you are defining artistry.

I think you are right that using a pattern is a crutch of sorts – it doesn’t allow the same amount of freedom – and yes you are using someone else’s ideas. BUT there are some things that you need a basic pattern for.  Socks for example – you can always change the stitch pattern used – but it would be very difficult to ad hoc a pair of socks and end up with a left/right the same exact size and shape.  You would have to count in there at some point.  Also – if you are knitting things like sweaters and hats for people not near you, it is good to have a pattern as a gauge on sizes.

Which brings me back to the whole science thing :).  Unlike painting where a stroke can go anywhere on a page and not cause any harm, your stitches have to be formatted properly.  You have to know your right side from your wrong and how the basic knit/purls interact.  One mess up can be a hole in your sweater… yes, it might add ‘character’ and art, but it might just make the whole thing unravel or be unwearable.

OK… so I know that is a lot of rambling from me… but this is one subject on which I definitely have an opinion.  There is so much value in creativity when combined with knitting, the possibilities are endless and that can absolutely be an art.  I just think that when I see a beautifully made knitted object, the first thing I think is not ‘oh they used a pattern, crafters!’ but ‘wow! someone spent an incredible amount of time creating that piece from nothing but a ball of yarn and two needles, and my gosh is it a work of art!’

I maintain my stance on this. I am not demeaning the amount of effort required to successfully create a garment, that is certainly an accomplishment. But following a pattern is NOT art, it is craft. If anyone is unclear about this, Oxford English dictionary can help:


noun 1 the expression of creative skill through a visual medium such as painting or sculpture. 2 the product of such a process; paintings, drawings, and sculpture collectively. 3 (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, and drama. 4 (arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with human culture (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects). 5 a skill: the art of conversation.

— ORIGIN Latin ars.


noun 1 an activity involving skill in making things by hand. 2 skill in carrying out one’s work. 3 (crafts) things made by hand. 4 cunning. 5 (pl. same) a boat, ship, or aircraft.

verb make (something) skilfully.

Many use the term “art” loosely, and I appreciate this opportunity to draw the distinction. Again, I do not mean to undermine any skills one has – there is a lot of credit to be applied to someone who is an adept knitter, a proficient computer software user, a fine piano player. These consume a huge amount of time and dedication to master. But not all of these people are artists.

Art is “the expression of creative skill through a visual medium,” meaning it is a creative idea that is being channeled through whatever medium chosen. Craft is “making things by hand.” I still admire people who make things, but that does not distinctly qualify them as artists. There is a reason why “art” and “craft” are two separate words.

I understand the point made on needing a pattern for sizing and such. Knitting is unique from other media in this way – there are specific methods to learn, and a sense of mathematics and spatial recognition helps. I would not know where to begin if I had not consulted patterns the first few months.

This illustrates another distinction. Is one knitting to relax and create an item, or is one using knitting as a creative medium for a unique idea? Either is fine – both activities have merit but the end result is vastly different. When I knit without a pattern, I make the technical decisions as I go along and I am not concerned about the proportions or the end result. Knitting with a pattern is necessary if a specific project is in mind.

Have I sworn off patterns forever? Probably not. Copying someone else’s work isn’t all bad (if they agree to it). Knitwear designers far surpass my understanding of knitting, and if they have designed something I love I might as well use their pattern!

I felt like my imagination was being supressed when I used patterns, and I have a good idea of what sizes to make hats, mittens, scarves, so why not try to invent some new stitches? If I ever dare make a sweater on my own, I can consult this non-patterny guide from Knitty.


I will agree to respectfully disagree :).  I don’t really do semantics or wholly intellectual arguments. It isn’t my thing. I deal in emotion, visual aesthetics, and numbers.  Words – eh – not so much.  To me that definition of art isn’t a gross contradiction to the product of knitting by a pattern… but hey – to each to his own.  I totally respect your work and opinions, and can’t wait to see what you come up with next!


This isn’t simply an argument of semantics, but also of mere principle.  Someone doesn’t like the actual definition of a word?  Tough luck, I say – the creation and structure of language was in the hands of those far more adept than most of us and for that I am grateful.  People manipulate terms to their liking just as they manipulate traffic laws and common social courtesy so that they may have the most convenience in a particular situation.  People grossly misuse terms and blend them into other meanings which only further dilute the original sentiment behind the word – would we all be happier with fewer words that mean a large variety of things for the sake of simplicity and also our own personal convenience and manipulation?  It smells a little too much like 1984 to me.  Although languages certainly evolve over time with word sharing and new concepts, simply disregarding an actual definition and meaning so that one may appease their own perceptions is just wrong in my opinion.

There is a vast difference between being an artist and having a personal view and opinion.  Is Lady PooPoo (I refuse to say her name), the wreck of a singer that she is, an artist?  She doesn’t write her own music, she has stylists dressing her, and others to guide her every move.  Yet, she sings.  She has a “good” voice (debatable, but some seem to think so), as knitters have dexterous hands, and bees have incredible skills with gathering and creating honey combs.  I’m sure she has an opinion in the things she does, but she is not the creative mastermind behind it.  Are they artists, or simply following protocol?

Now, I can say with much certainty that two items knit from the same pattern will never look the same.  The knitter can choose different colored yarn, they may inherently knit tighter despite using the same sized needles, etc.  There is certainly personal thought that goes behind producing anything, which includes also an ability to problem solve – thoughts that we may never even see visually in the end product. However, I hold the title of artist to a high standard, and Oxford English dictionary or not, an artist creates a visual representation through the expression of a personal creative idea.

When I took art classes in school, we certainly learned some foundational concepts and guides before we began our creation of artwork.  We were all given guidelines on where to place the dominant object, the proper use of negative space, etc. We were directed to paint the same still-life assortments, draw the same trees outside the window.  However, I became an artist when I took those principles and ideas of art and used them as a guide to my own creation.  We all have influence in everything we do – it’s when we take that to create something that makes art.  Art is a performance, the absence of a performance, a visual representation, an aural representation, a textual representation – ANY medium – of an imagined thought.  I give anyone that uses a skill props – many skills go unused and unnoticed.  However, just as anyone that goes to war is NOT a hero, despite how everyone misuses that term (another discussion for another day), there’s a difference between just doing your job and going beyond that (in a few words).  Both are acceptable and admired.This reminds me of my post a long time ago about food photography.  I say stop trying to make everyone special – skills are good, put them to use, but give credit where it’s really deserved.

I didn’t want to digress into that branch (too much to be said on the topic), but I’m glad you did.


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