Last week at the beach is a perfect example. I was picking up and putting down my knitting a lot. I didn't want to exert one iota of gray matter if I didn't have to. I had some design projects simmering around, but I couldn't very well tote them along to the sandy, greasy-sunscreeny beach. Instead, following a pattern, a particularly easy pattern, in fact, was exactly what I was in the mood for. I cast on for a little wrap skirt for G. and when I had a couple of spare moments, was able to follow along mindlessly while ogling lifeguards with rippling muscles who were young enough to be my
Sometimes I follow a pattern because I think someone has already done such a good job that it seems silly to try to reinvent it. Consider this beaut by Veronik Avery, the gray alpaca jacket in the new Vogue. Now I certainly couldn't improve upon that in any way and it's a killer sweater/jacket. Instead, I can enjoy the pleasure of following a well-crafted pattern, with the end result of a beautiful garment.
In addition to occasional laziness, there are other reasons I still like to follow patterns. This'll sound hokey, but since I've been trying to do designs for other people to make, I think it's a good form of "homework" to make other people's written patterns. When I make someone else's design, even a small or easy one, I see things about pattern-writing I didn't before, and I have a new appreciation for the perspective of the knitter. I think this makes me a little bit better at pattern-writing.
But for me, the most important thing about knitting other people's patterns is that it reminds me of the pure pleasure I felt when I first came back to knitting. I remember how wonderful it felt when I managed to parse my way through a pattern and finish, and see an object that looked like it was intended to. How magical it seemed when I followed a Fiber Trends pattern for a sheep, and all the mysterious short rows and odd pieces turned into what was recognizably a sheep. Or how cool it was when cables actually turned out the way they were supposed to in a litttle baby jacket. How satisfied I felt when the sock or hat I was trying to make actually turned into something that could be worn on a foot or a head without embarrassment. (Or at least much embarrassment.)
So if you don't follow patterns, don't even buy them anymore, because you know how to design your own stuff, I say good for you. Sometimes I too will strike out and do my own thing. Other times, it's okay with me to follow for a little while.