25 February 2015

Putting together a pattern

As I'm preparing a few patterns for testing/editing, I thought you might be interested to see the elements that go into a pattern. Every designer has a different skill set, but with my former life as an Art Director and Graphic Designer, I am able to do the layout, photo editing (sometimes photography, too), and chart creation, in addition to the writing and grading. There are a couple of areas where I'm mulling over changes, and I'd love your feedback. I've included the Thistle Leaf Shawl pattern pages for reference :)


  • title - preferably memorable and evocative of the design, not numeric (Cardigan #987, anyone?) or generic (Long Sleeve Pullover), and as a general rule not tied to the color of the sample, since I never want a knitter to feel left out because they don't like the way they look in blue, or red reminds them of their ex
  • description - also known as "romance" copy - interesting and explanatory, since I want to set the scene and highlight what makes it special, with correct grammar and spelling, of course (I was an English major, and my mother was a language arts teacher back in the day)
  • photos - a "hero" shot (one that shows the item and conveys the mood and doesn't have me looking too doofy) plus a close-up (usually of the stitch pattern) and an image that gives an idea of overall size/shape and/or the back of the item (and if there is room on the following pages, I will include additional images for illustration)

info page

  • sizing - I'm currently considering doing away with "letter" sizing completely on my graded patterns and just providing finished measurements with ease information
    What do you think about letter sizing vs. finished measurements?
  • materials list - yarn, tools, notions - I want to make sure knitters have everything they need to successfully create their version of my pattern, and I've started to include yardage approximations for each size, not just number of skeins, for easy yarn substitution
  • gauge information - usually given in Stockinette Stitch to help knitters in their yarn choice
  • skills needed - a list of which techniques are used so that knitters aren't surprised
  • notes - specifics about techniques used in the pattern and other helpful tidbits
  • abbreviation list and stitch guide - I always cross check these against the written pattern to make sure I cover every abbreviation used and provide instructions for any stitches not charted/written out
  • schematic - these are kind of my bete noire, but hopefully you can't tell that from looking at them! Generally, they are in imperial measurements, but I'm mulling over including metric (ditto for sizing)
    Would the inclusion of metric help you?
  • thanks and my blurb - I don't do any of this on my own, so I like to tip my hat to my testers, tech editor, photographer, etc., and then share a little bit about me

pattern page(s)

  • charts (if applicable) - I create all my charts in InDesign with the knitsymbols typeface - it's a very satisfying, detail-oriented part of the process for me
  • chart key - a chart isn't much help if a knitter can't understand it!
  • written version of charts - another challenging area sometimes since I'm a visual person (the written version of Upon the Spanish Main was quite complicated but turned out really well) - every time I think of going chart-only I am reminded of all the different learning paths there are in the world and the knitters whose brains cannot process the information in a chart
  • pattern - the actual written instructions, which need to be clear, efficient, and address every size for all portions of the knitted item, including finishing 

Lots of different pieces go into a pattern! And as a former Art Director I'm always trying to fit things together as snugly as possible (must. save. paper.). But that's the basic formula for how I present a pattern. Now, how I write it? That's a story for another day.

I'd love to hear what you think about those two questions. If you're a designer, I'd love to hear what elements you include in your patterns.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

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