Designing Knits

Defining the Product

Designing knits requires a set of carefully thought-out technical design plans. A specialized form of knit—referred to as jacquard—illustrates how the needles are manipulated independently as color and pattern are introduced.


Fabricated on machines set up for a single or a double set of needles, Jacquard knits afford designers the freedom to create complex patterns and intricate motifs.

Technical Design

Once the knitting machine has been selected and the pattern capability is known, the designer can plan the technical design, starting by deciding how large the pattern area should be in terms of courses and wales.


Next comes the creative part of design. Ideas for a motif can come from anywhere or anything—natural objects, fine and applied arts, such as paintings, sculptures, textiles, or other media.

Fabric Construction

The final design motif is transferred from the studio to the factory floor, where fabric construction begins.


If the knitting machine is electronically controlled, the instructions needed to interpret a pattern are loaded into the machine. If the knitting machine is mechanical, technicians examine the printout to note specifics on setting drums, wheels, or selection devices. With both types of machines, the specified yarns are then placed in the proper sequence on the machine. Final adjustments are made, and knitting begins.

Artwork Files for Knitwear Design

In this webinar, Alexis Mondragon—technical designer, knitwear specialist, and sweater consultant for Cotton Incorporated—takes a deeper look at:


  • Artwork and body mapping solutions using Adobe Photoshop
  • How to format artwork files that are compatible with flat bed and circular knitting machines
  • Knitwear design utilizing Cotton Incorporated’s FABRICAST™ collection