Since I have been learning to design my own patterns I have found that I work in a few different ways. In the case of my tawashi, I have been mostly working with the same circular base and then making new designs that incorporate that as the beginning. I do this because the circular part is the useful part of the design, the portion that will do the real work of the tawashi. Then I do the add ons that make it look like a cute shape that turns into some type of animal or bug.
I realized I had a fish and a seastar, so I wanted to add one more sea creature before moving on to another theme. This way I can have a set of three patterns available at some point. In addition, my mother in law likes seahorses, so she would probably like a set of seahorses for her kitchen. She might just hang them for decoration, but hopefully she will use them. (Maybe I should make a special set for her that have a center circle big enough to use as a coaster….)
As I create my idea I sit with a notepad and pen next to me, stopping every few stitches to write down what I have done. Of course, this also results in lots of scratching things out as I frog ideas that are just not working. In addition, I have my own little shorthand that would make very little sense if I handed it off to someone else to try to make something.
Once I make one of the item I generally make it a second time following my chicken scratch, making notes as I go. Then, I type it all up, add some photos to make it more clear and prettier and have it tested again. Usually I test it at least one more time based upon the typed version and then ask someone else to test it for me. Since my testers work for free (and a free pattern) it sometimes takes a while for my patterns to make it into my shop. I am trying to figure out a way to keep track of several patterns being out with testers at once, but have not gotten that organized as of yet.