Low Vision Pattern Checklist

Recently I’ve been updating my patterns and talking to people about low vision patterns. There are two different versions to consider low vision and screen readers. This is something to consider as both need different things on what you would like to do. 

I decided that I would make a pattern that combines both of them so that they are useable for both screen readers and low vision. All the information I have comes from a Ravelry forum called Accessible Patterns, here is the link to the group (reminder this is on Ravelry so be careful if it’s an issue for you).  

This blog post is more as I needed a checklist for my own pattern and I’m unable to use Ravelry for longer than 5 minutes at a time. This makes using information from there hard for me and I know it for some of you it will be impossible. 

Checklist for a low vision accessible pattern

1. All text must be fully black and on a white background – full 100 percent saturation.

2. 24-point font.

3. Sans serif font (Arial and Verdana are good examples of sans serif).

4. No italics, it’s better to use bold text instead.

5. One single-column text throughout.

6. One-inch margins – for use with magnifiers.  

7. All directions fully are written out; if there’s a chart included the pattern you must be able to be made without reliance on the chart.

8. No scanned pdf patterns.

9. No header or footers with any information of substance to the pattern; page numbers are ok.

10. Left justified text.

11. Left justified page numbers, either top or bottom.

12. Single space or one and one-half space between lines.

13. Single space between paragraphs and between groups of information, including long rows/rounds.

14. Use spacing to help separate lists of numbers and sizes.

15. Avoid bullet points, small graphic emblems and icons. Instead space between information groups and/or add bold headings or use numbered lists.

16. Internal links.

17. Write out repeated rows and stay sequential when possible.

Checklist of best practices to create accessible patterns for screen readers.

18. Avoid abbreviations as they can be read differently example st as street or p as page. If it’s written out fully then there’s no confusion.  

19. Some screen readers will not see parenthesis or brackets, so use an asterisk instead.

20. Test the pattern on a variety of screen readers the first few times.

21. Add spaces and commas between lists of numbers.

22. Use care with / backslash; it will be read as “over” unless it has a space around it.

23. Add descriptive captions to all images; simple captions are fine – does not need to be alt text format, but this is also helpful, as well as alt text.

24. No tables – screen readers will struggle to read these.

25. State all information that may be in a schematic, chart or image in the text within the pattern. 

26. Some symbols will be read strangely in a pattern, so if you use a symbol to designate a repeat, include that explanation in your abbreviation guide.  

A couple of things to note for all this information, length doesn’t matter. Someone who wants to make your pattern with you low vision format will not care if it’s a 20-page pattern. They want to be able to create your item. The other things to remember is that don’t make it read-only. Make sure that they can copy and paste out of the document. The reason for that is that if they need to edit it to make it easier for them, they then can do it themselves. We all like a pretty pattern, but unfortunately, a pretty pattern can confuse a screen reader. 

Make your pretty pattern and then make another one that makes it easy for the screen reader.  

Somewhere to consider going to afterwards is a new website which is creating a database of accessible patterns (off Ravelry), which is accessiblepatternsindex.com. You can support them with their website hosting for this and when you have created your low vision patterns you can speak to them about adding yourself to this list. 

They are also planning on running a course by Renee (who is fabulous and knows what she is talking about) and they have tips on there.  

I’m not an expert on this topic but I have created my own and had them checked by someone who is an expert. So, if you create one and would like to get me to check out what you have done (as a second pair of eyes), feel free to contact me about this. I will do this free of charge as it’s just checking it. 

If you would like me to create your low vision pattern for you so that you can work on new designs or other items, again feel free to contact me and we can have a chat about it.  

What makes a good pattern – Part 4

Welcome back to the final part of Things I believe make a good pattern. 

Charts: In my opinion, charts can be one of the hardest items to get right in a pattern and can be done poorly.  Something that I feel about them is to make sure that you print them off on your printer at home and see how they look.  Check whether they are actually legible and you can see it clearly.  I like to see charts in patterns (where appropriate).  I also believe they should never replace written instructions.  I feel that they should go alongside them.

This means that your pattern will be more accessible by more people if you also include the written instructions as well as the chart.  Also, your chart should be labelled.  When used throughout the pattern, you need to refer to that chart name.  Check whether you are working in rows or rounds.  This example that I’ve edited is one of (if not the best) best charts I’ve seen done.  As you can see, it also contains an explanation of how to read the chart, rather than assuming you know.  This helps teach people how to use a chart without affecting those that already know how to read charts.  (Please note, that I’ve created a version of the chart so I’m not showing anyone’s designs and I’ve had permission to create an example to show).

A chart showing an example as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Where it has arrows to explain which end you are reading the pattern and were you start.

Stitch count table/Tick Sheet: This is not completely necessary, but I do think it adds to the pattern, especially when you have a lot of repeats.  This helps people work out where they are in the pattern (especially when coming back to their knitting) and be able to check their stitch counts rather than when you decide.  This is especially useful when they are concerned about something.  I’ve seen various ways of showing this and how this is laid out, in my opinion, depends on the pattern.  I feel that this should be on its own page so they can choose to either print it off or ignore it (especially if it’s large).

There are two final sections which are areas I’ve seen designers not include but I think they should always be there.

Copyright: This section should be put somewhere (generally near the end) saying what can and can’t be done and that it is your design.  I admit I’m going to leave this vague as I’m not a copyright lawyer and I know that this law changes around the world.  I’m going to leave you to do your own research on this topic. 

Designer Bio: I love this section as this is somewhere you can truly be creative and be yourself.  Some questions that I would ask are the following: How do people contact you for pattern support? How do people get to know a tiny bit about you?  How do you tell people your values and who you design for?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my mini-series on writing pattern.  If you want to chat at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me either by email or on Instagram. 

What makes a good pattern? Part 3

Welcome back to the third post of my miniseries of what I think makes a good pattern.  This time I’m going to talk about the main part of the pattern.  The section that everyone who knits your pattern will look at.

Everyone will want this section to look different. Some designers will be writing more like you’re having a conversation and others will be more like a list of instructions. This is a personal preference on what you like and how you write. It doesn’t matter what your style of writing is but as long as it’s consistent throughout. It can help to break your pattern into sections. Using a top-down sock as an example, it can be broken down into cuff, leg, heel, foot and toe. This can make it easier for people to keep their place in the pattern as they know which section they are on. Personally, I would even title these sections and make it stand out, so it is very obvious. If you increase or decrease stitches in a row, I would suggest adding a stitch count as that can be helpful to someone to check that they did what you asked.

Sometimes you will be repeating a section of the pattern several times in your design. To make it easier for both you and the knitter is to have a section which has your stitch pattern in it. This means you can send them to that section rather than repeating yourself and making it a much longer and could become a more complicated pattern. I’ve used this in my pattern ‘In the Forest’ and I’ve seen this technique used by several designers. Make sure that you name each of your stitches patterns that you use and then use that name throughout the pattern. This means that you are able to tell them what which stitch pattern that you would like them to go to next without constantly writing out the same section.

Example of Stitch Patterns

Abbreviations are used in all patterns. So, I believe this section is extremely important in your pattern. You must make sure that all abbreviations are included but if it’s not a very basic one you can remove simple ones like knit, purl, etc. If you are using an abbreviation that is not a usual one like in German short rows, I’ve seen MDS for make double stitch, make sure that you have a link to somewhere that they can see it (especially if you have a link to your own video or post about it). Also, think about what you abbreviations say and check that they make complete sense. I would go to websites like Craft Yarn Council or check out other people’s patterns that I already own to see what they say. I would highly recommend sticking with standard abbreviations and meanings. Remember to be descriptive with your abbreviation and make sure that everyone is clear of exactly what you would like them to do. As an example, using SSK – slip, slip, knit. Some people think that this means to slip a stitch, slip another stitch and then knit the next stitch – thereby not decreasing any stitching. After chatting with some ladies about this at my knit group some of them had never come across this abbreviation before and one of the ladies had to be walked through it. She had been knitting for 30+ years so it’s not just beginners that need it to be clear. Also, make sure that you tell someone how you want them to slip the stitch, do you want it slipped purlwise or knitwise – some people again don’t know and make a guess.

Next time we’ll take about the finishing touches to a pattern!

What makes a good knitting pattern? Part 2

To see part 1 of this series please click here

So this part of the series is all about the information before the pattern even starts. The stuff that needs to be available for someone to make the item. There doesn’t seem to be any specific order in which you need to show these and I haven’t worked out what order I prefer it in which seems to be the best way. I would just make sure how you lay it out in one pattern is the same in all your patterns to make it consistent, but I believe all this information should be in some way in the pattern.

Yarn Information – This is one of the most important pieces of information. What yarn did you use for the sample, what quantity do I need in yardage and weight? Also what colourway was your sample done in (If I wanted to make an exact copy!). What is the yarn made of is it a cotton, a 100% merino yarn or is a blend? Why did you use this specific yarn, if you used cotton is it because you are making a summer item, or do you want a certain drape. Could any yarn work, or does it need to be a smooth yarn to give good stitch definition? Tell me how I should select my yarn.

Needles – Tell me what needles you used throughout. Do I need circulars, dpns, or straights? If I’m using circulars how long should my circulars be?

Gauge – This should always be a 4”/10cm swatch at the very least. You can and should knit a bigger swatch then the 4” swatch as you will be able to accurately measure your swatch. What stitch pattern should they use to make the swatch and which needles should they be using. Generally, it is a good idea to do this in the stitch pattern that you are going to use. Then they will be able to see what it looks like and see if they are happy with the finished fabric and also they will be able to test the stitch.

Notions – What notions and tools do you use in your pattern? How many of each do you need? If you include stitch markers in the notions do you mention them in your pattern? Are they an optional extra if so suggest how someone could use them.

Finished measurements of the piece – So the maker can measure the piece and see what size they should be blocking the item out too. This helps them decided which size that they need to be making (as you should be adding some information about suggested ease – even if you suggest what the ease was in the sample made that was photoed).

Finished body measurements – For any item that is worn you should include what size the item is for. This means that someone can choose easily what size they wish to make, alongside knowing the finished measurements of the piece they can decide if they want to make it more or less baggy than you had planned.

Pattern Notes – This where you should put any useful information. Do you make any suggestions that would be helpful to the maker? Do you suggest that they do a certain technique? How do they go about it, where should I find the information. Can you alter your pattern, how do you suggest I do it? Is there a best yarn choice? You could explain more here.

Schematic – I believe especially with garments that you should always include a schematic. This would mean that you can include all the measurements on the top. Like how big is the armhole, shoulders? How long is the garment? etc. Remember, people are different sizes and some people will use the schematic to change up the piece so that they can make it fit them better or how they prefer it to look. I offer to make schematics as a service as I want you to have something useful for your pattern. So, if you need a schematic send me a message and we can chat about what you need and how you want it to look.

If you feel that I could help you with checking your pattern please feel free to contact me and we can talk about what you would like and need.

What makes a good knitting pattern? Part 1

So this is going to be a blog post series as I discovered I had too much to say in just one blog post. I will attempt to work in order though. So this takes you through the first few sections of a pattern before you get to the actual pattern.

Title – Every pattern needs one but you need to make it memorable, unique and also using correct spelling – so don’t have a pattern called Khocolate – as if people say it they will think Chocolate and autocorrect will constantly change it to be the correct spelling. The other thing is when you come up with a name of the pattern search for it on Raverly, how many people have had a similar idea. Using daydreamer (partly as Andrea Mowry has just launched a pattern called that) there are 191 matches for that word. You want to make sure when people search that they aren’t getting distracted by everyone else’s in the meantime.

Pictures – This is something that I think you really need to focus on. Your photos could make or break your pattern – obviously, it has to be a good pattern but if you want people to spot it you have to show them off. I think you need more than one photo. In my opinion, you need at least 3 photos. One artistic shot to show your item (especially when it comes to shawls) so people can see the whole item. One shot should be how it’s worn so that everyone can see exactly what it should look like when worn. Lastly a shot of the details. So for a lace item, you should be able to see some detailed shots of the lace. For a sweater, you should be able to see photos of the back. Is it a plain back or is it as detailed as the front. These can be throughout your pattern but think about where you are going to place them. You need to think about your customers printing off your pattern. Photos take up a lot of ink so make sure to only use useful ones in the pattern and the others on pages where you don’t expect them to print it off.

Pattern Romance – this is the bit where you are trying to sell your pattern. You are letting your audience come into your space and showing them a bit about yourself. Questions that you should be answering in this section are. Why did you design your pattern? What inspired you? How does your pattern fit that description? What is your pattern? Is it a top-down triangular shawl or is it a bottom-up seamless sweater? Does it have some amazing unique new technique? Why should I buy this pattern over all the others I could buy? If you really hate writing pattern romance then outsource it to someone who loves doing it. I’ve added a few people that I know love doing this if you really don’t want to do this.

If you feel that I could help you with checking your pattern please feel free to contact me and we can talk about what you would like and need.

Things to do to Save Money with your Tech Editor

There are several things you should check before you send your pattern off to your tech editor. There are many reasons for this but in my opinion the big one is that it will help your tech editor spend less time on the little errors and this will also save you money.

I can probably spot about 95% of all mistakes. So the more errors that there are in a pattern the more chance that a mistake will be missed.

These are a few things that you should check before you send your pattern off:

  • Photo – do you have one on the pattern. Even if you don’t have the official photos make sure to take some quick photos. One should be of the full design so that the editor can see what is going on. You should also include some detail shots of any interesting sections. The tech editor will be comparing your picture to your instructions to check that they match.
  • Description – check that it is for the pattern that is being shown. It’s very easy to use a template and forget to change this.
  • Materials
    • Yarn – Have you included the yardage, weight, what’s the yarn that you use in your photos. What are good qualities for this pattern (Stretch, Twist, Smooth etc.)? This will help someone decide whether they want to make the pattern.
    • Needles – Do you include the size, do you need a specific type and how many (i.e. circular – how long does the circular need to be, DPNs, Straights).
    • Gauge – What is the stitch and row gauge for the sample (it should be at least 10cm / 4”). What stitch pattern is it in? Do you use multiple strands of yarn for the gauge – make sure to include this. Do you knit the final pattern in the round, then your swatch should be gauged in the round? Is it a fair isle pattern, then your swatch should include fair isle.
    • Size(s) – how big should the item be it is blocked out. What size person should it fit? If it is a sized item it is useful to have both sizes, size of the finished garment and what size person do you expect it to fit (do you have any positive or negative ease)?
    • Notions – what do you need? Does your pattern need stitch markers, scrap yarn, cable needle (remember this even if you don’t use one for cables)? Any other items? How many do you need? Do you need 2 buttons or 8 buttons if someone says buttons on the pattern?
  • Abbreviations
    Are you using the correct one throughout the pattern – rounds, rows
  • Have you included all the abbreviations that you’ve used? Have you got abbreviations in your pattern that you haven’t used?

Pattern

  • Casting on – Have you included instructions for this? If joining in the round have you mentioned this?
  • Binding off – How do you expect them to bind off? Should it be a stretchy bind off or a fancier bind off like picot or icord? Or is it using the Kitchener stitch?
  • Finishing Instructions – remember to tell them to weave in their ends. Do you need anything seamed together? Or do you need to add any notions to the end result (buttons)?
  • Blocking – does your item need blocking? If it does how heavily would you like it blocked, what size should it be blocked too (do you have a schematic that they could use)?
  • Special instructions – do you say to make a buttonhole and then say no more. Does your audience know how to make a buttonhole?
  • Charts
  • Key – make sure that this included and that all symbols used are on it.
  • Readable – print it out. Make sure that it can be read so the symbols are not too small or that the colours are too similar that it’s hard to tell which colour is which.
  • Colour Blindness – Have you thought about this. Some people can’t see the difference. If printed in black and white are the colours very different.
  • Support and Policies
    • How do you want people to contact you if they have a problem (or find a problem)
    • What’s your copyright policy

Here are a few things that I think is a good idea to think about before you even start writing out your pattern. I will be talking about some of these in future posts.

  • Stylesheet
  • Template
  • Have a list of your abbreviations and descriptions so you don’t have to figure them out each time.
  • Use sites like Craft Yarn Council for checking standards.
  • Who is your audience? Who are you aiming the pattern too? Do they print the pattern or do they work off a screen? How experienced knitter are they?

If you feel that I could help you with checking your pattern please feel free to contact me and we can talk about what you would like and need.

Contact Me

Why should you hire a tech-editor?

We should start with. What is a tech- editor?

A tech-editor is someone who will go through your pattern in a short amount of time and check your work. They will check for inconsistencies, typos, your numbers plus a lot more.

A tech-editor is your second pair of eyes they will make sure that your customers have the best experience possible. They will check everything with a fine tooth comb.

Why should I pay for a service when I can just use test knitters?

A test knitter is a person who is your ideal customer. You want them to enjoy the process of test knitting for you as much as your paying customers. So you want them to have the best pattern possible. They are there to help ensure that the pattern is clear and they are also your promoters. If they find lots of errors then they may get frustrated and not come back to you in the future.

Tech-editors will also check that your pattern is clear and consistent throughout whereas a test knitter will focus on the numbers/information that they need to create the item. Tech-editors will also give suggestions on how you can improve the layout of your pattern to make it easier to read.

The other thing you have to think about is how experienced are your test knitters. What if you have a design that is a jumper and it is graded in 12 sizes. What do you do if one of your knitters has a problem with the measurements? Is it your numbers, is it the yarn used, or is it her gauge. How can you decide which is correct? A tech-editor will at least confirm your numbers are correct to your gauge. How many test knitters do you require if you are designing a jumper that is in 25 different sizes (baby to 4XL man – tin can knits)?

A big point to remember tech-editors that are also designers get other tech-editors to check their work. As it’s too easy to miss your own mistakes.

If you feel that I could help you on checking your pattern please feel free to contact me and we can talk about what you would like and need.