Write A Good Pattern

Write a Good Pattern

If you’re going to publish your designs, I think it’s important to write a good pattern. Even if you’re not going to charge for it.

How To Write a Good Pattern

Publishing a well-written pattern takes quite a bit of work. But I think it’s worth it. Here are the important factors in a well-written pattern:

  1. Make sure the pattern is as error-free as possible.
  2. The layout of the pattern should include all the necessary components of a pattern and be aesthetically pleasing to look at.
  3. Maintain consistency with all of your patterns.

Error Free

Nothing worse than getting into a pattern and having to stop until you figure out a mistake that the designer has made.

  • After you’ve written the first draft of your pattern, test-knit it yourself to make sure it works.
  • Ask others to test the pattern:
    • YarnPond.com is a great resource to find and organize volunteer test-knitters. There is a small fee to put a design out to test, but there are a lot of volunteers and resources for organizing them.
    • Require test-knitters to provide as much feedback as possible
      • My favorite pattern tester tells me every mistake he makes so I can help make the instructions more clear. On the Activities Hat, for instance, there is a fold-over hem requiring you to do a purl rounds in the middle of a bunch of knit rounds. He overlooked it and had to rip back. I bolded that row of instruction to help others avoid the same issue.
      • All feedback is useful if you ask yourself “Can I make this clearer?”
      • My least favorite testers are those who just simply make the design and say there was no issue.
    • You can require test-knitters to post projects and photos to Ravelry and social media as a condition of getting the pattern for free.
    • Communicate a lot with your test-stitchers. And make sure you respond to their feedback. Even if you decide not to incorporate it in your pattern…tell them WHY.
  • Make sure testers test all sizes and both written instructions and charted instructions.

Pattern Layout

Well-written patterns should have all of these components:

  • Pattern name prominent at the top of at least the first page.
  • Clear photos of the finished project.
  • A brief description of the project.
  • A section on “Materials” that should have:
    • Sizes – and try and make sure your design is available to as many different sized people as possible (use both Imperial and Metric measurements)
    • Yarn Requirements – weight, type, amounts (for each size) as well as the yarns used in the finished garments in the photos (use both Imperial and Metric measurements for weight and yardage)
    • Needles – Type (double-pointed, 36″ cable circular, etc.) and size(s) both US and Metric (eg. US 8/5mm)
    • Gauge – Stitches and Rows per 4″/10 cm and in what stitch (stockinette stitch or pattern stitch)
    • Other Tools – any other notions needed like stitch markers, blunt large-eyed needle for weaving in ends, stitch holders, etc.
  • A Notes Section – this section should include an overview of what the person will be making and should have photos or a schematic describing details. It should also include descriptions of any unexpected techniques or methods they’ll need to understand.
  • Both written instructions and charts – there are at least two reasons for having both line-by-line instructions as well as charts. The first is that different people buying your pattern prefer one or the other, so having both covers all bases. It’s also nice to be able to tag your pattern on Ravelry with both so it appears in more searches.
  • An Abbreviations Section – This section should include a description of every abbreviation used in the pattern instructions. The section should also be on the same page where the abbreviations are used…repeating this section on multiple pages of line-by-line instructions can help alleviate flipping back and forth between pages.
  • Page Numbers – While I try to keep my designs to as few pages as I can, make sure all your pages are numbered. How many times have you gotten a design out of order and needed page numbers to re-collate it?

Consistency Of Pattern Layout/Design

If this is your first pattern, you may want to consider some of these ideas:

  • Come up with a Designer Name – using a Designer Name (like DoublePointed Designs) helps to distinguish your patterns and helps people find them.
  • Look through patterns and find a Layout/Design you like and try to replicate it as your standard format.
  • Choose a less common Font – Take some time and try to find a font that is clear to read and is still yet distinctive. Using a consistent font for all your patterns helps people recognize your designs even if it’s just subconscious.

If this isn’t your first pattern, and your published designs are missing any of the components that you think are important, consider going back and revising them

As I started with, it takes a lot of work to publish a well-written design. Leave a comment if you have any other items you think should be included in this.

Current Crochet

The first cotton crocheted Thermal Stitch Beanie looks like it will be a complete success.

I still have about 10 rounds to go to finish it. And I’m not overly thrilled with the pooling of color with this yarn. But that may be because I’ve been working on it so close up.

By the way, it looks like Tony (the guy who both inspired and walked me through making these thermal stitch beanies) is going to publish a pattern for it. I’ll keep you updated!

5 comments on “Write a Good Pattern

  1. Is the pattern really “Rosies Fingless Mitts”? I was wondering if that typo was an example for us or if it is the correct name.

    1. While they are technically fingless because they have no fings, that was a completely missed typo. Ravelry will be getting an updated version this weekend!

      And thank you.

    2. Having gotten back home from visiting with family, I have updated the heading to Rose’s Fingerless Mitts – Megan has been offered a free copy for her unwitting help in editing the pattern.

  2. Look at that adorable smile in the photo on the right. Your posts are a superb way to start my day, Joe. Thank you for them.

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