Today, I’m talking about abbreviations and some of the most problematic ones, also, where do I look for ideas for descriptions and how to help yourself for the future.

Let’s start with problematic abbreviations, the first one that I will talk about over and over and think is the most problematic is ssk. SSK stands for slip, slip, knit which I know y’all know but when a knitter see this, some will think this means slip a stitch, slip another stitch and then knit the third stitch. A better description is slip 2 stitches knitwise (1 at a time), knit these 2 stitches together through back loops. Obviously, it can be tweaked and I know some designers will slip one of the stitches purlwise. This is why a good description helps.

Another abbreviation that has issues is Sl with the description slip. As discussed in SSK some like slip knitwise and some like to slip purlwise, how does a knitter decide what to do this time. How do they copy you exactly? Even saying slip purlwise will help. I know some of you will be thinking but surely when you slip it should be purlwise so we don’t get the twisted stitch. Well, after discussions with some people in my knit group it was a mixture and it was generally related to what the pattern said on the occasion that they worked it. One lady said she had no ideas so she mixed it up depending on how she felt. So, adding that one word will really help out.

Another set of abbreviations that are more a problem with what you should use is cables. Some people would use C4F and others would use 2/2 LC instead. Now both of these are fine, as long as you explain it. I do know that from hearing from left handers that they prefer 2/2 LC as they then can get the same way as the pattern as everything is reversed for them.

Do you add items like cast on and bind off in the abbreviations? I’m using these 2 as examples as I want you to think how often these are used in general in pattern. For most patterns (especially accessories) you use them once! To me, having an abbreviation that is only used once is wasted space. I may as well just write out the words in that case. Now, this is definitely personal preference but I feel it’s something to think about.

Something to remember is that even if you think your pattern is an expert pattern and should only be made by experts that you will find people who trying to make it even if you don’t think they would. Also, some abbreviations didn’t exist in certain places due to difference in knitting styles and who taught them. Going back to SSK, one of the ladies in the group who’s been knitting for 50+ years, I had to show her how to do it as she had never seen it in a pattern and it seemed obscure to her. She got it once shown, but how could you expert someone who I believe is an expert in knitting wouldn’t have seen what I consider a fairly common abbreviation now.

Now, where do I get ideas of good descriptions. First, I would look at Craft Yarn Council and look at the standards on their website. If I didn’t like there’s I would look at some patterns I own and see if I like any. If I was still struggling, I would ask my tech editor or I would speak to my testers, or other designers or knitters I know.

Ok, so you have great descriptions and abbreviations for your pattern. Fabulous, now what? When you next need that description how are you going to find it. Are you going to search through your patterns and find that one description? Ok, that’s fine you can totally do that. What happens when you’ve released 50+ patterns and you’re sure you’ve used this description before but you’re not totally sure and you don’t know which pattern. Are you going to go hunting in all 50 patterns hoping for the best? This is where you can start your own style sheet and have your abbreviations all listed together. It means that you immediately go to your template of abbreviations and pull off the ones you need and then if there’s one missing then you can write a new one and add it to this list. I hope this gives you some ideas about abbreviations and where you can go and how to make your life easier.

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