Monday, April 3, 2017
How to Write Knitting Patterns
I've improved my pattern writing quite a bit from my early days. I frequently feel the urge to go back and rewrite my early patterns as I implemented improvements to my instructions. I started by doing research. I read other published patterns, followed Ravelry threads to find out what knitters didn't like and published a few accessory patterns first. I've learned a lot from the various tech editors I worked with. Doing pattern support and helping other knitters face to face has given me clues into how knitters can misinterpret instructions and how very imprecise skill level ratings can be. It's a work in progress and every new design has it's own unique challenges.
I think what surprises knitters is just how very detailed writing a pattern can be. A decision needs to be made for choosing every word, every font, every sub heading and every bit of punctuation. Standard writing guides can't answer all of a pattern writers questions which is why I continue to think of my patterns as a work in progress. If I see a better way of explaining something in the many knitting blogs I read I'll take note for my future patterns.
I do hear knitters criticizing the patterns of other designers and often feel I need to defend them. I think that's because I have the deeper knowledge of just how difficult it can be to do. Yesterday, I spent almost three hours knitting and writing twelve lines of stitch pattern instruction. It incorporates the shaping instruction into the stitch pattern for a wrap. Ultimately I've written it that way because it makes the instructions much easier for the knitter to follow.
If you are curious about the process take a look at this Style Guide for Knitty magazine. Here are the additional notes just to give you a sense of what is required.
I haven't even touched on the topics of grading patterns for size, learning software to create schematics or charting stitch patterns.