Choosing a Pattern to Learn How to Knit a Flower

I’ve thought about knitting a flower for years, literally.  I’ve looked at lots of knitted flowers and I’ve been tempted so many, many times.

This time, I’m going to do it.  I’m going to learn how to knit a flower.

I found 3 very different and very appealing flower patterns, sort of.  So, which one should I pick?

The Intellectual Choice

I bought a book of flower patterns, Noni Flowers by Nora J. Bellows.  It’s a lot more than a bunch of knitted flower patterns. The designer and author is very dedicated to creating beautiful knitted flowers that capture the beauty of the real flowers. In addition, her approach to knitting flowers is unique.

The book begins with an examination of the anatomy of a flower, real anatomy depicted using knitted flowers. You’ll end up learning some botany here. (Any older kids in need of a science project?)  If you’re a gardener, it will be easy for you to identify the species in each pattern.

It’s an interesting book, not because it’s about knitting flowers, but because of the approach it takes to knitting flowers.  First, gauge is everything (as always), but in this case, there aren’t any different “sizes” for the flowers in the written directions.  The only way to determine the size of your finished flower is by the weight of the yarn & the size of the needles you choose to use to make the flower.  In other words, you choose your gauge when you choose your needles and yarn.  That will determine the size of your flower.  The pattern never changes.  It’s unusual for designers to give this decision to knitters.

To illustrate how this works, Ms. Bellows shows one flower made in 12 different sizes/gauges starting with lace weight yarn and 000 needles, going all the way up to what looks like a flower knit with roving rather than yarn, on size 50 needles.

As the author puts it, “…every flower pattern can be used, just as written, to make a flower that will fit in a thimble or one so big it would need to be suspended from the rafters of a stadium.  This is the power of gauge.”

It also gives knitters a really fun way to play with gauge.

But, because you’re making flowers, does your gauge really matter?  I don’t think so.  We’re talking about knitted flowers here.

What’s more important for first time flower makers is the section on Special Techniques.  These include:

  • circular knitting, with dpns
  • making i-cord in different sizes – for the stems
  • using stitch holders, some non-traditional
  • weaving in ends – not the casual weaving in that you might do for a knitted garment
  • making stamens  – really contributes to a life-like result!
  • wiring stems and blossoms

Finally, there are a variety of flowers in the book, some are easier to make, others more difficult.  They are clearly marked and a general description of the skills required for each level of technical difficulty is described in the intro section of the book.  I was surprised at how intimidating the descriptions were.  Skills like intarsia, felting, overstitching, embroidery, beadwork, etc. are mentioned.  Which doesn’t mean I won’t dive in and do it anyway.

While there are a few complete project patterns in the book, any of these flowers would look so great on it’s own that it could go straight into a bud vase.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Hmm, I wonder.  If I’m able to master the patterns in this book, would I find it easy to recreate other real flowers I might want to knit?  Lots of potential here.

The Easy Choice

Which brings me to my next choice, the cabbage roses adorning the Londonderry Rose Coat in Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on Top of the World.  I love the effect she gets by using a lighter color on the edges of the petals.  They really do look a little frosty!

However, this is a more traditional pattern in the sense that yarn weight and needle size are predetermined, with the usual caveat to check your gauge before you begin.  Still, these flowers are being appliqued onto the outside of a garment.  Some variation in the size is desirable and would make the flowers look even more true to nature.  It won’t have any effect on the fit of the final product.

Skill-wise, the roses require the usual increasing, decreasing, and a minimal amount of sewing.  They’re not intimidating.

While the coat is very appealing in many ways, it suffers from Ms. Epstein’s usual habit of adding somewhat awkward and clashing elements into her designs.  I’d have to modify it, plus it’s a BIG project.  I could just make the roses for now…

The Absurd Choice

It’s close to Halloween.  This means there are a lot of pumpkin and leaf patterns out there, not quite flowers, and this last pattern is not exactly a flower.  The pattern that caught my attention is Butterflylove’s Cyclops Pot Plant.  (I think she meant “potted plant.”)  This pattern fits right in with “spooky season” and makes me smile.

This is a small, complete project, although the pattern warns that it takes some time to make and is best for intermediate or above knitters.  I think I’m qualified.  I love the humor of this design.  I can’t imagine a more fun way to begin my knitted flower odyssey.  Unfortunately, because this is a paid for pattern, I can’t show you a photo in this article, but there are photos of it available on Ravelry

I could also see this making a fun, somewhat humorous gift for my daughter.  She’s asked me for potted plants in the past and I’m pretty sure her cat killed them all.  I don’t think he’d be able to kill a plant that’s never been alive.  Also, she has somewhat goth tastes.  I think the design would really appeal to her.  Two birds, one stone:  a new skill for me, a gift for her.

It looks like this designer also specializes in knitted amigurumi.  I’ll be keeping her in mind for when I’m ready to dive into that.

Decisions, decisions

You can probably tell I’m leaning heavily toward knitting the Cyclops plant.  It’s not a real flower in any sense.  After I finish it, I’ll have experience making stems, leaves, and buds, but not flowers.

Points in it’s favor:

  • It’s a complete project.  I won’t end up with random plant bits and no place to put them.
  • It’s a small project.  It may not be fast, but it won’t last that long.
  • It’s not clothing, which increases it’s potential acceptability as a gift.
  • I won’t need to spend money on it.  I think I have everything I need in my stash, or around the house, to make it.

Seriously?  It’s not like I’m not going to go back and make the other flowers at some point anyway.  So what if it takes a few years.

Pardon me while I dive into my stash.

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