At last weekend's knitting machine seminar in Monroe, I picked up some old magazines that were offered for "donation".
These old magazines contain a wealth of information from the heyday of machine knitting back in the 1970's through the 1990's. Even though the styling is dated, the techniques used can be applied today.
For example, Machine Knit America Vol 2 from Fall of 1992 contained a short article about a "plaid" fairisle pattern designed by Barbara Pavack, owner of the Knitting Hide-a-way in Issaquah, WA. I checked, the shop is not listed online currently. The technique involved alternating rows of blocks of color with rows containing 'striped stripes'. Think of the checks on a gingham fabric and perhaps you can visualize.
Here is the general idea of the repeat:
Her article mentioned that with this pattern, there are endless variations of this stitch pattern that could be used for design possibilities, including color changes, alternating the rows with different colors, using a bulky instead of a standard gauge machine, using the "reverse" button on an electronic machine. I suppose you could use the double length buttons as well for a different look.
Barbara mentions that her design was adapted from a purchased man's sweater. Each new variation, in essence, is a new design.
There was an accompanying coat design in a turquoise, shades of gray, and pink color. Even though I would not make the exact shape of the garment today, I would definitely consider making the sweater in a different colorway, with a shorter length. This would make it a cardigan rather than a coat jacket. The length of the design was 33.5 - 34.5. I would cut about 6 or seven inches off that. Then the shoulder was a modified drop and the accompanying photo looked as if shoulder pads might have been inserted. They did that back in the 80's and 90's! I would set the shoulder in slightly more, which would mean removing a few rows from the sleeve and adding those rows back to the sleeve head area. In addition the pattern called for a cording trim which I would probably omit. The yarn called for in the original design was Bramwell Roseknit. Checking Ravelry, I can find out that it is a fingering superwash 100% wool put up on cones.
So, in summary, modify the plaid stitch pattern to suit my taste, modify the schematic to match a more current silhouette and my shape, choose different colors and a currently available yarn, make a gauge swatch to apply the measurements and convert to stitches and rows, and I'll be done! I will have designed a "derivative" design through inspiration from Barbara Pavack. (Oops, forgot about the knitting, finishing, blocking, and sewing up!)
Or alternatively, design the stitch pattern in Design-A-Knit, apply it to one of my existing garment shapes, make the gauge swatch, recalculate, and away we go!