Last October I took part to a very interesting Pattern Design Course here in Berlin.
The main reason why I joined the course is that I want to learn how to design fabric pattern and this was a very good starting point. On the way I realized that patterns are everywhere: they are not only on fabrics, they are decorative elements used more or less everywhere, they are scientific models, they can be found in any kind of device and also in human behavior.
Simple or complex, patterns are everywhere to be found.
It is a very interesting topic and learning how to develop a pattern is both imaginative and very mathematical. To approach pattern design you need very simple instruments like transparent paper, pencils, rulers and colored felt pens but you can also use objects of any kind: buttons, colored select tape, post it, used underground tickets, ribbons, etc.
Moreover, patterns are not only drawn, they can also be "3D": once you build a module you can repeat it in the space and obtain a three dimensional pattern.
And if you think at artists like William Morris or EC Escher you can really get an idea of how creative patterns can be.
Drawing patterns can be really hypnotizing: you start doodling and than you have a shape and this shape, if you draw following certain rules, leads you to draw another shapes that together become a pattern and you can elaborate it until you find the perfect design. It is a bit like meditating in a kaleidoscope, I suppose.