This amazing little book is designed to help a beginner knit designer write a professional pattern that others can use. It’s not designed to be super in depth, and doesn’t cover a lot of things a more advanced designer would need to know, such as grading (designing a pattern to fit different sizes) or how to create ideas. It doesn’t cover marketing, or the actual designing of a pattern.
I bought this book because I have designed a shawl/wrap and want to write the pattern to be sold on Ravelry. I got more than my monies worth out of this book! It is truly a gem of a book if you have any interest in designing and writing your own knitting patterns. I am going to break down the book by chapter and talk a little about each chapter and what it covers. No review can fully cover the scope and breadth of this book though. Even though it’s a slim beginners book it covers enough in depth enough to be able to take a pattern and give it enough polish to make a professional looking pattern.
Pattern Structure and Elements.
This chapter discusses the very basics a pattern needs, name of the pattern, photos, introduction, level of difficulty, materials list, gauge, size information, abbreviations, notes, instructions, contact information, copyright statement, date, and version number.
Each section listed above has detailed information, for instance the section on photographs discusses the best ways to take photos of a finished object. There are tons of little side tips and hints from knitters of all skill levels sprinkled throughout the book as well as sidebars from expert pattern writers.
The author talks about the importance of a schematic in your pattern, even if your pattern is a rectangular shawl, having a drawing of the shawl gives the knitter an idea of what the finished product is supposed to look like and the measurements of each side.
The Actual Knitting Instructions
This chapter focuses on the actual instructions, the meat of a knitting pattern. It’s very in depth and talks about things you might not have considered when designing your pattern, like how to deal with repeats within rows. For example:
“If you’re establishing a pattern, it’s helpful to be precise, as in:
Row 1 (RS): Work Lace pattern 5 times across.
And if it’s unclear (e.g. if you’re only working the pattern partway across the row), then yes. See:
Row 1 (RS): (K2, p2) 10 times, k to end.”
The takeaway is that what might be clear to you might not be clear to someone else, so think about it carefully.
Love them or hate them, charts are a useful thing to include in a pattern. This chapter spends several pages talking about how to create a chart for patterns worked flat, for patterns worked in the round, how to deal with no-stitch symbols, colorwork, and more. This is a fairly short chapter, but still very important, especially if you are writing a lace pattern.
This is also a very short chapter, mostly because it’s such a complex subject that it alone could be the focus of several books. Grading is the process of scaling a pattern to fit multiple sizes. This is one of the biggest challenges in designing a knitting pattern. This chapter barely touches on the concept of grading, because it’s a very advanced topic and this is a beginners book. It does make the point that increasing the size of the needles to increase the gauge of the fabric is not grading! If you use thicker yarn and larger needles you’ll get a larger sized garment, but if your gauge requires things to fit together properly things can go awry when this happens.
Formatting & Layout
Software, output format, layout guidelines, websites on learning more about layout, and when not to format. Another short chapter, but it touches on how to format to keep things readable.
Every knitter has tried a pattern that is poorly written. Instructions don’t make sense. There are errors in the patterns. It’s obvious the pattern was written down incorrectly and published without a test knitter. This chapter talks about technical editing, which is where someone who knows knitting takes your pattern and makes sure that the instructions are as correct as possible. Did you really mean k3, p4 there or is that a typo? Sample knitting, someone takes your pattern and yarn, and for a fee, knits your pattern *exactly* as written. You can use the sample for photos or whatever. Test knitters also knit your pattern exactly as written, to help you spot errors. These knitters cost money, but there are communities on Ravelry that will do it for free.
The last two bits in this chapter discuss publishing your pattern. You can self publish your pattern on a website like Ravelry or submit it a publication like Knitty or Interweave Press. Self-publishing means you keep all the money you might make from it (minus any cut Ravelry takes) but your reach may be limited to a small audience. You might be rejected if you submit to a publication, and if you’re accepted you’ll probably make less money, but you’ll build an audience if you want to design more patterns.
The last chapter talks briefly about copyright. This section deals with American copyright, and the author is not a lawyer, so if you have questions it’s best to see a lawyer in your area.