Knitting Patterns: A new guide to pattern writing

The Beginner's Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns

The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns

Have you written any knitting patterns? I have, and it’s not easy! I have four or five patterns out there, and there’s a lot that goes into each one. When I wrote my first pattern, the Winding River Cowl, it took me forever. I thought I had everything done correctly, but when I heard back from the editor, I’d made a few mistakes. Such as not listing the yardage of the yarn used. Rookie move!

One of the designers I admire most, Kate Atherley, has written a new book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Patterns and boy do I wish I’d had it when I was working on my first designs!

I admire Kate because she has a Pure Mathematics degree, and that is scary to me, but also super cool, and she’s a great sock designer (have you seen Custom Socks? It’s awesome.)

I thought I’d let Kate introduce her new book, so here she is!

A Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns

This book is a guide to writing knitting patterns: how to translate your great knitting project into a set of instructions that any other knitter can follow.

I provide concrete guidelines, with lots of examples, on topics including:

  • what information needs to be included in a knitting pattern;
  • how to properly and clearly communicate sizing and measurement information;
  • what schematics are, why you need them, and how to create them;
  • how to use charts and written instructions to express  special pattern stitches such as cables and lace;
  • stitch nomenclature (especially related to cables), abbreviations, and glossaries;
  • how to handle multiple sizes and versions;
  • use of brackets and * to indicate repeats;
  • how to establish a personal style sheet;
  • and much more!

I discuss technical editing and test knitting—what they are, why they’re important, and when they need to be done. I give tips for designers who wish to self-publish, and for those preparing submissions to a publication.

In addition, I’ve provided a master template—both in printed and digital form—that you can use as a starting point for your patterns.

Why Does Good Pattern Writing Matter?

It’s simple: Good pattern writing matters because we want knitters to keep knitting. Specifically, you want knitters to keep knitting your pattern—to finish the project they started.

Learn how to take photos for your pattern writing!

Kate shows you the difference between an enticing project photo and, uh, not.

You want knitters to keep knitting your patterns—so that if they buy and make one of your designs, they buy and make others. You and I want knitters to keep knitting so that they buy more patterns—supporting you, and providing me with ongoing technical editing work.

The best way to keep knitters knitting is to make sure they’re enjoying it. And the best way to make sure they’re enjoying it is to make sure it’s easy and fun. The biggest part of that is to make sure patterns are clear and correct and easy and fun to work from.

Whether you’re giving away your patterns for free, selling them, or submitting them to publications, you want everyone to enjoy your pattern: to enjoy looking at it, working from it, and showing off the finished project. And it’s not just about knitters, it’s also about book and magazine editors. The better your patterns, the more likely they are to accept your designs and seek you out for future work.

This book aims to teach you everything you need to know to write high-quality patterns that will keep both knitters and editors happy.

—Kate Atherley, from The Beginners Guide to Writing Patterns

I really like the part about why good pattern writing is important. Haven’t we all knit from a poorly written pattern? It’s so darn frustrating!

Kate tells a funny story, called Typos I Have Known: There was the infamous “safety pint.” It was in a lace pattern, a shawl for beginners. I often suggest that until the pattern is clearly established, knitters put a safety pin in the RS of the fabric so they can more easily identify RS from WS. My tech editor, who has a well-developed sense of humor, suggested that if the knitter needed to have a beer on hand, it perhaps was more difficult than I intended.

The safety pint. I see nothing wrong with that as a knitting tool.

If you’re interested in writing knitting patterns, you have to get The Beginners Guide to Writing Patterns! It’ll be invaluable to you on your journey.



P.S. Have you written any patterns? Leave a comment below and share your experience!


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