So You Want to Write Knitting Patterns. . . Read This First!
You’ve been knitting for a while. You’ve progressed from simple patterns to pattern modifications to coming up with your own designs. Maybe someone at your LYS loved that shawl you created and wants a pattern for it. Maybe you want to self-publish as a side gig or both write knitting patterns and submit them to magazines or websites. So what’s the next step?
This may come as a surprise, but one of the most important aspects of knitwear design is writing the patterns. That is, writing them so they’re intriguing enough to grab a knitter’s attention, then well-organized and clear enough to keep it. If you’ve ever struggled and suffered through a poorly written pattern, or a pattern that lacks key information, you know what I’m talking about.
Kate Atherley’s newest course, Pattern Writing for Knitters, teaches what turns a good pattern into a great one and how to make tech editors love you. A professional tech editor herself, Kate’s mantra is “Life is too short for poor instructions.” I’m a longtime knitter who has reviewed, edited, and—erm—tried to write knitting patterns myself, so I was really excited to work with Kate on this project. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
• Know. Your. Audience. This sounds simple enough, but considering who will knit your patterns is integral to how much information you include. A pattern for a beginner will probably spell out a lot more basic information than a pattern aimed at more seasoned knitters.
• So what about “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced,” anyway? This is a longer discussion. Someone who has knit extreme reversible 4-colored cables for years is an advanced knitter—when it comes to cables. She might be totally in the dark when it comes to stranded knitting or even “simple” sock knitting. A more effective pattern might call out the particular skill sets needed and let the knitter decide.
• Knitting has its own unique language, so be sure to use it correctly. “Purl2tog” is understandable but incorrect; don’t invent abbreviations that already exist. Did I mention that the course has a fabulous (and lengthy) glossary of standard knitting terms?
• Style sheets are key, so use them. Did I say, “Use them”? Because you really, really need to use them. Because . . .
• Patterns have lots of parts, so pattern organization is key. Thankfully, Kate provides handy pattern templates to help you remember what to include and how to properly format it all.
Pattern Writing for Knitters is a new streamable course you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.