Friday January 18th 2019

A Good Design

What makes a design–for a garment, for the decoration of a room, a stage set–a good design?

This is a somewhat subjective answer, for the answer will vary greatly upon the tastes, experiences, and sensibilities of the individual who is answering. However, there are several key principles and elements that inform the practice of design, and these may be learned by anyone.  For our purposes here, we will skew our examination of the principles and elements of design towards how they affect the design of knit and crochet wear.

While the lists of principles and elements that go into making up a good design may vary by one or two (or more!) items here or there depending upon the person doing the answering, for right now we’ll use the following classics as our guidelines:

Principles of Design


Elements of Design


Designers use known elements of design in different ways to create designs that meet certain principles. In this way, we communicate ideas and create responses. Understanding the responses we intend to provoke and controlling that response is key to a good design in both the wearer of the garment or the viewer who sees someone wearing the garment.

Design may happen by accident, or it may be difficult to analyze why the design does or does not work. The responses called forth by the design may be strong, or may be almost subliminal.

An awareness of the principles and elements of design enables the designer to design with intention and to evaluate, correct, and develop the design.

It must also be understood that design may be somewhat cultural or sociological in meaning. (A design that highlights or reveals the legs, for instance, may denote a lack of modesty, be a sign of an upper class influence, or may simply signify that it’s summer, depending on what culture is viewing the legs.) If the desired response is to shock, surprise, or even to call forth distaste, a knowledge of the socio-cultural values of design is useful.

There are many wonderful books and websites covering this subject, and if you have not done so already I encourage you to explore these basic building blocks of design at greater depth — I will provide several resources at the end of each page of the primer for further study.  In the meantime, let’s take a brief look at these principles and elements and some of the ways in which they translate to the design of knitwear.

A note: these pages are still being worked on, so you’ll be seeing rough drafts of each page as they’re being written. When this note disappears from this first page, you’ll know that the primer is as finished as it’s probably ever going to be. :)

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One Response to “A Good Design”

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