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!

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