I ask the question "Where do you find inspiration?" in all of my interviews on this blog. I think the most common answer is everywhere.
Here's a list of potential sources:
Other fibre arts
To fill a need
To solve a problem
I’m one of those knitters with so many ideas for knitting, I’ll never be able to knit all of the projects that my ideas generate. When I teach I have found my students ask questions which show me the design process is an enigma to them. I think we are all creative but not all of us know how to kick-start the process. For some the process is so intuitive that that they are unable to articulate the actual steps that they follow.
I have a number of strategies that I use to develop my original work. I often buy yarn with absolutely no idea of what I will do with it. I'm confident I will always come up with something.
Your starting point for designing your own patterns is to become a sponge! You must start by soaking up ideas from everywhere. You need to start to see the world in a new way. You must practice by making everything into a sweater design. I know this may sound rather odd but just start looking around for colours and patterns that please your eye. Look at fine art, fashion, other fiber arts and interior design for ideas. Look at knitting patterns, especially the ones you don’t like. Look carefully at those patterns, decide what it is you don’t like, and then consider how you would change them to make them better. Look at your environment, interiors and outside. Travel is a common source of inspiration for all designers as the colours and patterns of other cultures look fresh to our eyes. All of these influences can be a jumping off point; you can make the translation as literal or indirect as you choose.
It’s as simple as looking at a sunset and imaging the colours in the horizon as a shawl or perhaps the yoke on a cardigan. Start to think about how you would go about knitting it. You would choose your yarns by colour and start to develop stitch patterns suitable to your idea.
Now play the “what if” game. When I said sunset, what colours did you think of? Was it a blazing sunset over the ocean? Alternatively, did you think of a delicate pastel sky in the spring after a soft rain? There, you just designed two different colour ways for your shawl in a matter of seconds. Now play “what if”. What if it is a sky full of clouds, what if the sunset is over an autumn forest. What if there is a bird silhouetted against the sun? The possibilities are endless. Something as simple as the colours and textures of cobblestone can lead to a completely new list of ideas. This takes practice and the more you do it the easier it will become.