How to give your pattern a unique, memorable name


Happy September everyone! It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. For us in the knitwear industry, though, autumn is the best time of the year. The temperatures outside start to cool, and knitters start itching to cast on for warm woolies (yes, there are apparently knitters who don’t knit in the summer).

This is also the time of year when I get flooded with beautiful new designs in need of tech editing, so I’m thinking this month’s newsletter topic will be particularly timely.

When I’m trying to come up with interesting topics for my designer newsletter, I always go through a couple of questions in my head. Is there something specific I’ve helped someone with recently that they seemed to really find useful? What are the common mistakes I see over and over again? What do my clients seem to be struggling with? Well, this month I’m going to address something I struggle with as a designer: coming up with “good” names for my patterns. Read on for some tips and tricks for finding unique, memorable pattern names.

And as always, I’ve included my tech editing availability for the coming month. Over half of my September spots are already booked up, so get in touch soon if you’ve got a pattern nearly ready for editing!

Giving Your Pattern a Unique, Memorable Name

Naming my patterns is one of my least favourite parts of knitwear design. Sure, sometimes the name just comes to me in a eureka moment when I’m creating the design. Sometimes the name even comes first! But when it doesn’t, finding a “good” name can be difficult.

In my opinion, a “good” pattern name is memorable and unique, without being overly complicated. A unique name will stick in people’s minds, but you want it to be simple enough that they can easily go search for it – and find it – if they forgot where they saw/heard about the pattern.

Sounds like a tall order, and it can be, but for me, coming up with a “good” pattern name boils down to the following two steps:

  1. Brainstorming a list of quality possibilities
  2. Deciding on one that’s reasonably unique

1. Brainstorming a list of quality possibilities

If you’re having trouble coming up with a name for a pattern, start by doing a major brainstorming session. Write EVERYTHING down. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Draw from the pattern’s inspiration. 

    This may seem obvious, but think back to what inspired the pattern to begin with. Where did the idea come from? What else were you doing, or what were you thinking about, when you were developing it?

    Example: My Digger hat pattern was inspired by a stitch pattern I saw on the sweater of a character on Gilmore Girls. The character? Jason “Digger” Stiles. I didn’t really intend to name the pattern after him, but when I thought back to the pattern’s inspiration and development, I couldn’t get away from him!

  • Draw inspiration from the pattern itself.

    Again, this might sound obvious, but if the pattern hasn’t told you its name yet, look closer. Does the stitch pattern resemble anything in nature? Does the colour of the yarn remind you of anything? What properties does the fabric or the finished object have?

    Example: My Little Heart’s Ease mitten pattern. As I was knitting, I kept thinking how the pink colourwork pattern looked like little hearts, and Little Heart’s Ease is the name of a beautiful little community on Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.

  • Browse dictionary/thesaurus websites.

    Look back at all the words and ideas you wrote down while brainstorming.  For each word, think of every related word you can come up with, and write those down, too. Once you’ve got a long list of related words, start looking for synonyms and idioms related to those words (check out my two favourite online thesauruses here and here). You might start with a relatively generic word and stumble across a neat synonym or interesting idiom related to it that would make a great pattern name.

    The Free Dictionary has a great idiom finder that I find really helpful.

    Example: When trying to come up with a name for my In a Fog mitts, I couldn’t get past the fact that when the stitch pattern was worked in a solid and a speckled colourway it looked a bit blurry, or “foggy”. “Foggy” didn’t seem like a great name, but when I typed “fog” into the idiom finder I immediately saw “in a fog” and knew it was perfect.

2. Deciding on one that’s reasonably unique

So you’ve come up with something you think will make a great pattern name. Not so fast! Before you commit, I recommend doing a search for it on Ravelry. While the name doesn’t have to be totally unique, you don’t want to end up on the 6th page of search results when a knitter goes to look it up. I like to use names that have less than a full page of results so that my pattern will end up on page 1 when someone searches for the name.

If you type in your favorite contender and end up with 15 pages of results, don’t get discouraged! This a great time to head back to the idiom finder or a thesaurus to look for less common variations.

As with most tasks, having a method and a basic set of guidelines can help make pattern-naming a bit less daunting. I hope you find my suggestions helpful.

Do you have any tricks you use for coming up with great pattern names? Leave a comment or send me a message to let me know!

Tech Editing Availability

I have the following tech editing spaces remaining for September:

September 3rd – 7th: full!
September 10th – 14th: full!
September 17th – 21st: 1 space remaining!
September 24th – 28th: 5 spaces

Send me an email at allison AT kniterations DOT ca you’d like to reserve a spot!

– Allison

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