Shawl Design Inspiration

Where do all the ideas for knitting patterns come from?
Every shawl design starts with inspiration. What do you want to design today? A delicate lace shawl? Or a warm, cozy wrap in thicker yarn? Inspiration can be anything – from art via nature to music. Yarn itself can be a powerful inspiration, and so can certain shawl shapes or stitch patterns be.


For me, yarn is my favourite source of inspiration. A friend of mine used to say that yarn talks to her telling er what it wants to become, and she’s right.
Take a skein of yarn and look at it.
Is it some fine, hand dyed lace weight in a solid colour? This one begs to become a delicate, airy summer shawl including lots of lace stitch patterns.
Is it sport weight yarn in busy colours? Well, a warm cozy Faroese shawl in garter stitch might be the perfect match.
You get the idea.
Inspiration for Creating Knitting Patterns
Inspiration by Yarn: Watching the beautiful skeins of hand dyed yarn by Yarn Indulgences makes me wanting to swatch for lace shawls instantly.

Shawl Shapes

Sometimes shawl shapes are my source of inspiration, too. The best example is the Faroese shawl I started creating during a flight from Athens to Berlin, Aegean Sea.
The Faroese shape itself as nothing new to me at all – I had published several Faroese shawl patterns before – but I came up with an idea of a brand new construction method. Using a combination of two vortex (cornucopia) shawls and an optional center panel created new possibilities for using stitch patterns in Faroese shawls. These new options for playing with patterns sparked my inspiration.
Aegean Sea shawl knitting pattern by Julia Riede

Stitch Patterns

I own a lot of stitch dictionaries and they are a constant source of inspiration. Lately, Pinterest seems to play a similar role when discovering stitch patterns as lots of people pin their favorites and dig out treasuries. I use my Pinterest board Stitch Patterns to collect beauties I find along my way (I’m collecting not only knitting stitch patterns but crochet ones, too). My favorite: Japanese knitting and crochet books, some are even available for free.

Music and Art

Listening to music always puts me into a creative mood. It creates a state of mind where I can see shawls themselves or their priocess of creation in specific settings. A prominent example is my Knitting in the Waiting Room pattern collection: The idea was born while listening to a Fugazi song, Sitting in the Waiting Room, and mishearing it as “Knitting in the Waiting Room”. The idea of taking knitting projects to waiting rooms of all kinds made me think about shawls suitable for these situations and inspired the whole collection.
Art inspired me to create the Plant Anatomy pattern collection. The idea evolved when I came across a book about microscopic anatomy of plants from the 17th century including lots of astonishing illustrations.
The Making of Plant Anatomy

Other Sources of Inspiration

Sometimes inspiration hits me while thinking of solutions to common problems. The Adjustable Shawls book and pattern collection is an example for creating a whole project around the problem of how not to run out of yarn in the middle of a knitting project.
Inspiration can be a lot of things.

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