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Every artist, designer or musician has a process: their own individual way of getting from idea to finished project. It’s a beautiful, meandering thing, getting from Point A to Point B. As Jenny Lewis says, “There’s a little bit of magic; everybody has it.” Maybe you’ve never really thought about your process, but I guarantee you have one.

When it comes to my knitwear design process, I do a lot of sketching in ProCreate on my iPad. But there’s no replacement for real paper—sketchbooks and idea books. That’s where my exploration really starts. I love working in large, hard-bound sketchbooks which become catch-alls for anything and everything worth saving. I go back to them time after time, even years later. They’ve become endless little archives—collections of papers, drawings, scraps, patterns, fabrics and color.

When it’s time to collect ideas and put together a mood board for a knitting collection or design, I usually take some ideas from these sketchbooks and bounce back to the digital world to put photos together in Adobe Illustrator alongside my drawings. It’s where graphic design and art made by hand meet, and I love it.

There’s nothing more fun for me than turning a drawing into a hand-knit garment. Here you can see some of my process drawings for the MDK Atlas collection.

This collection was very graphic-inspired with modern color-blocking and contrasting, bold color combinations. Looking back at these drawings now, there are definitely more patterns I still want to knit and write.

The colors for Grid Hat and Cowl were inspired by a dress that I saw Kay wearing at Shakerag last summer. It turns out Ann has this dress too— go figure! I loved the colors in the stripes and when I saw color swatches for Atlas in Truffle, Peat, Leek, Seaglass, and Mallard, I knew I had to make something out of these blues, teals and greens.

A striped sweater was my first idea, and I might still write up a pattern. I ended up designing a Grid/Atlas-inspired colorwork chart for hat and cowl set with the colors from ‘the dress’ and I couldn’t help but explore other color combinations as well. This design definitely works with just two colors, too!

The Mabel cardigan was inspired by Mabel (Selena Gomez) from Only Murders in the Building. I really liked her smart sweater + skirt outfits, and thought I’d whip up a cardigan that might be Mabel-worthy. It’s also classic and very wearable for the rest of us, but might be fun to wear while solving a mystery. (Or reading about one.)

Truffle was my mysterious color of choice for this cardigan and I ended up knitting most of Mabel while watching the series. I heard there will be a Season 2 … which might be an opportunity for another sweater design.

(secret knitting)

There may be a Atlas colorwork yoke sweater in the works right now—a potential Rhinebeck sweater that I’ll share soon. The colorwork chart includes elements of all things Rhinebeck: coffee cups, pan flutes, apple cider doughnuts and autumn leaves, inspired by my trip there last fall. MDK Atlas has all the colorways to make it happen, and it’s the perfect yarn for colorwork.

See something you’d like to knit? All of Jen’s MDK Atlas patterns here are 20% off with the code ATLAS on Ravelry through midnight CST on Monday, April 11th. Happy knitting!

In case you missed it, here is our Jen Geigley for Atlas Zoom Party on MDK’s Vimeo channel.

About The Author

Jen Geigley is many things: knitter, author, knitwear pattern designer, graphic designer, and knitting instructor. There is a modern sensibility and a ton of love in everything she makes.

You can see Jen’s work in many publications, and most exquisitely in the six pattern collections she created herself, from start to finish: WeekendEveryday, Visions, Visions Kids, Luna, and Chroma. Originally trained in the arts, Jen creates her own patterns, illustrations, schematics, and graphic design for these collections. She also designs for Quail Studio and for Rowan Yarns.

Jen’s designs for MDK Atlas yarn are stunning examples of her sense for graphic design and color combinations. You can find them here.


  • I’m up early with a dog with an upset tummy.
    This article is a nice treat before I nod back off to sleep. I hope.

    • Hope the pup is feeling better soon; it’s hard to rest or sleep when the fur babies aren’t well.

  • Jen I loved this peek into your design process. You are such a smart, talented and inspirational young maker. I bought 3 of your Atlas patterns last week. Now I want them all!

  • I’d love to see a demonstration of how you actually use Pro Create & Adobe Illustrator. The process would be fascinating to watch.

  • Thank you for sharing your process with us, Jen. I love to learn how things move from brain to project!

  • Love the dress!

  • I love all of these designs!

  • Drawing out really helps. I feel connected when I draw ideas out. I’m not a Pinterest person. It just isn’t my thing. However, I love using Moodzer ( after I finish my rough sketches. I can play with my color decisions. I love your sketches. Inspiration!

  • Thanks so much for sharing. Your process of collecting in a sketch books is so permission giving. And still…..where did Ann & Kay get that dress!???

  • Enjoy being privy to the process!

  • Fascinating! Thank you for sharing your process and inspiring me to hone my own on this cold and grey Iowa morning.

  • I’d love the cardigan/jacket from Big Joy in another yarn ….

  • Thanks for sharing the process! Fun to see.

  • Wow — so many GREAT ideas!!

  • So inspiring!

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