In the course of writing a computer program, engineers typically face the same kinds problems again and again. As a result programmers have developed a way of thinking about different kinds of solutions and situations as "patterns," which provide generalized ways of talking about common problems and strategies.
> See: Portland Pattern Repository for an > example catalog of programming patterns.
When I opened the editor to write this post, I wanted to write something to connect this idea of a "pattern" with a knitting pattern, which I think is (or could be) a very related concept.
Rather thank think about knitting designs as these static instructions for constructing a single kind of garment, I think it might be cool to think of knitting patterns in the sense that programmers use the word: as a set of generalized responses to various states and situations.
This isn't revolutionary. If you've been knitting seriously for more than a couple of years, you probably already think about knitting in this way. At the same time, knitting publishers organize information in other ways: knitting "content" is either design and object centric (how to knit a "thing,") or it's technique centric (how to make a specific kind of "stitch" or "how to execute a specific kind of operation.")
Patterns are good because they are guides to become more creative and more resourceful knitters. Patterns help us understand how to effectively use resources, to execute the objects that we want to without dithering, and how to fix mistakes in our knitting when we make them. Focusing on knitting "patterns," is not only important because knitters will find them useful, but because it will advance the state of the craft.
Patterns also help resolve an ongoing "problem" in the knitting world: an online, free culture repository of information about knitting.
In the decade or so, I've watched a number of knitters attempt to create online information resources that serve as a free culture repository for knitting. Nothing has been particularly successful, and there's not a lot of "knitting free culture" out there.
While the lack of knitting free culture is due to a large number of factors, the fact that knitting content has always centered on "objects" and "techniques" is almost certainly a factor:
- objects are difficult to design, represent professional designer's only real way of generating a reputation and income, and it's difficult to divide the work of writing instructions for creating objects.
- there are a few (3-5) really, really good knitting techniques compendiums, and while new techniques emerge every now and then the books from 1938 (Mary Thomas') are as good as any of the more recent examples.
Patterns in this sense might be the best way to build an online knitting resource. Rather than store indexes upon indexes of cast on methods, full patterns for garments, and stitch patterns, we could create an index of knitting patterns, generated and indexed by situation and purpose. Example patterns might include:
- Heels for Light Weight socks.
- Heels for thick socks.
- Crew neck collars.
- How to knit sweaters in the round when you don't want to steek.
- How to secure a steek if the yarn isn't wool.
- Knitting socks for high arches.
And so forth...
I'm going to use my (admittedly sporadic) knitting blogging to begin capturing some of these knitting patterns. Then, if there's interest, we can convert these into a more robust form.