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Archive for November 20th, 2013

Before I get to the writing part a short aside. I am at the graphing stage of the Shetland Baby Blanket. Last night I swatched two different edgings. Tonight I’d like to swatch the center. I am going with a borders out construction, though I’ve not decided whether I will knit it in the round as one continuous piece or knit the parts separately and sew / graft them together. Knitting it in the round means hundreds of stitches on the needles at one time. A knitting mistake could mean unknitting hundreds and hundreds of stitches.

I found this interesting video from The Shetland Times about Shetland Wool Week. Click here to see the video.

Now back to writing knitting patterns.

Patterns define their designers. They identify and characterize designers to publishers, magazine editors and most importantly, the knitters who buy the patterns. Poorly written patterns can quickly sink a designer’s business. Knitters who have suffered through a poorly written pattern are unlikely to become repeat customers. They will also let others in the knitting community know of their dissatisfaction. Every pattern is a designer’s one chance to make a good first impression. No matter how many patterns the designer has published in the past, some knitter, somewhere is picking up your pattern for the first time. Learning good pattern writing is crucial to a designer’s business because no matter how fantastic the design, all that is lost if the writing is poor.

The elements of good pattern writing are be clear, concise, consistent and accurate.

Clear writing is easily understood. It leaves no doubt or confusion. The instructions are precise. One way to achieve this is always number rows and rounds. Do everything you can to avoid using the word “next” before the words row and round. “Next row” on top of “next row” and “next row” instructions tend to be confusing. The knitter is given shifting sand to stand on rather than sturdy, firm bedrock. The first to get lost in stacked up “next row” instructions is the sense of right side row and wrong side row. The knitter becomes unsure as to whether the instructions should be worked on a right side or wrong side row. The confusion is compounded when “next row” instructions include such gems as purling on a right side row, or knitting on a wrong side row. Do everything you can to number rows and rounds. However, if numbering rows and rounds becomes temporarily impossible the next best alternative is to make each “next row” distinct from the following “next row”. For example, “Dec Next Row” or “Next Row RS”. Always give the knitter a firm ground to stand on. The knitter needs to know where she / he is at in the pattern.

Always indicate right side row or wrong side row at the beginning of any shaping. For extra clarity specify what is being shaped. For example, use the words “at neck edge” or “at armhole edge”. A knitter can be easily confused when both armhole and neck shaping takes place at the same time. Help the knitter make an initial distinction between the two. When armhole shaping ceases, remind the knitter to continue decreases at the neck edge.

Provide stitch counts at the end of rows or rounds that include increases or decreases. As a designer you want the knitter to be happy with the final result. Including stitch counts is another way of making your instructions clear because it provides the knitter with check points along the way rather than completing all the increases or decreases only to find 7 stitches on the needles when there should be 3.

Do not assume that the knitter understands that Row 1 is a right side row. Especially when using set up rows before starting a pattern, it is best to indicate the first right side row of the pattern.

Friday I will write about how to achieve clarity when describing knitting techniques such as short rows, provisional cast ons and the like.

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