Pattern Writing: Much More Than Just Writing Instructions

Welcome to the next day of Shawl Design for Beginners! Today we’re going to talk about pattern writing and how to publish your first knitting pattern.

Pattern Writing is an Art

Pattern writing is so much more than just typing a few lines of instructions using your favourite text editor and hitting the export (or save as) button. It’s an art by itself, and I could write and talk for hours about this subject (or write a whole book). Boiled down to its heart its all about writing instructions for recreating your created knitting pattern without any hassle – or at least, with as little hassle as possible – for other people.

For other people. Not for you.

That’s a very important point many wannabe knitwear designers keep overlooking.

Just because YOU think it’s easy to recreate your design from the pattern you wrote doesn’t mean it’s easy for others. Usually, the opposite is true.

Yes, really.

Pattern Writing & Publishing Knitting Patterns – Step By Step

Step #1: Preparations

We started our pattern writing adventure by choosing yarn, stitch patterns and shawl shape following the shawl design trinity. We talked about calculations and about the finished size of your future shawl design. After finishing all these preparations we need to sit down and knit our sample shawl design (or let somebody else knit it, but delegating sample knitting is another story).

Step #2: Your Sample Shawl

The next step is to actually knit your shawl design. The result is called your sample shawl – sometimes also referred to as your shawl design prototype. It’s very important to take decent notes during this step, especially if you’re new at shawl design, to be able to write down your first pattern draft afterwards (or even better, while knitting your sample shawl!).

Rule #1: Take notes during sample knitting.

Take enough notes to be able to reproduce the pattern yourself. It’s a lot like writing protocols for lab courses or scientific work – if it hasn’t been documented, it eventually hasn’t happened at all. Document as much as YOU need to be able to reproduce your knitting pattern in the making! Your pattern might be the most beautiful thing ever seen but if you can’t write down how to make it, it’s pointless.

Step #3: Pattern Photography

Pattern photography, and how to take good pictures to use for pattern publication, is a topic by itself. I wrote about this topic earlier in my articles Pattern Photography That Rocks, I strongly recommend reading this article before proceeding. You’ll need decent project pictures for your next step: Test Knitting.

Step #4: Test Knitting

Details about the importance of test knitting and why you should never test your own knitting patterns can be found in my earlier article Creating Knitting Patterns, Day 9: Test Knitting. The short version: always test, never test yourself.

Step #5: Refine, Revise, Rewrite

How to eliminate errors (or at least minimize them) can be found in my earlier article Eliminating Errors. Honestly, an error-free knitting pattern is a rare find, but we need to do our best to catch as many bugs as possible!

Step #6: Quality Control & Templates

Quality control is a measure implemented by every serious business out there. Start by reading my article about What Makes a Pattern a Good Knitting Pattern?. Use templates whenever you can. You can find example templates & downloads here.


The Complete Guide to Creating Knitting Patterns

If you’re serious about becoming a knitwear designer and need to learn more about how to write knitting patterns I strongly recommend reading my free article series The Complete Guide to Creating Knitting Patterns. An extended version is also available in book form on Amazon (Kindle edition and as paperback).

And Now? What About Publishing?

We’ll talk about how and where to publish your fresh knitting pattern in the next part of this series going live next Monday.

Make sure to let me know how it goes with your first shawl design by leaving a comment below – and if you’ve got any question the comments section is the right place to go, too!

See you there!

Julia <3

4 thoughts on “Pattern Writing: Much More Than Just Writing Instructions

  • Gillian Miller

    At age 74, I am not planning to sell my own pattern designs. However, I look forward to being able to develop some written patterns for myself! I often adapt the patterns of others, and have depended on scribbled notes if I want to make a second or third project from the altered pattern. This course is helping me to organize my ideas in a logical and practical way. I have initiated a notebook specifically for the shawl design. So far, it includes my knitted swatches for yarn gauge, notes on the patterns I would like to use and small swatches of those patterns, as well as my calculations for the shape and size of the shawl. I am very happy with this course because you are never too old to learn!

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