A word of caution though, as it is so easy to get your stuff out there you will find that, as well as a pile of absolute gems there is also unfortunately a pretty big pile of stuff out there that is, well......not so gem-like . So make sure your contribution is of the best quality it can be before sending it out there so it is adding to the right pile. Here are my 6 top tips for doing just that.
#1Start small!If this is your first foray into making your own patterns, start with something relatively simple like a cushion or accessory - for the love of your mental health (and that of those around you) don't fly straight into writing a multi-sized raglan cardigan! Better to create a well-crafted simple pattern than make a hash of something more complex - you can build up to more complex items as your skills develop.
#2 Establish style and layoutAlthough there are a number of strong conventions for pattern writing, there is no single standard way of laying out or writing patterns. The aim though is to produce a concise set of directions that are clear to follow and expressed consistently. So firstly you need to make some decisions about how you want to set up your pattern. To get started on this, look at patterns you particularly like the look of and consider how they are laid out. Decide on which abbreviations and phrases you like to use best and compile this all into a template, or what is often called a 'style sheet', so you can remember which options you have chosen and keep it for reference. In general a good pattern should be set out in a logical order and include additional information about:
- pattern notes
- charts and/or schematics (where appropriate)
#2 Write a draft of the pattern out before you start making itOtherwise it is like taking a journey in the car without having a map or clear idea of where you are going. It is possible to do this the other way around (i.e. make it first, then write it up afterwards) but if doing so you must be very disciplined and ensure take extremely clear and careful notes as you go. I personally think it is actually more difficult to do this way around, though of course we are all different and some folks would disagree.
Design software or Excel spread sheets can be helpful for producing charts or working on multiple sizes, but are not essential, particularly for smaller, one size items. If you are using design software though, use caution and check any instructions produced very carefully - they will rarely be satisfactory as they are and you will need to make adjustments - the instructions need to flow and make sense to humans, not computers :-).
#3 Keep an accurate record of quantities usedThis is easy to forget but extremely important. You can measure quantities in terms of either weight or length. I find it easiest to measure by weight in grams on electronic food scales. It is good practice to weigh, and most importantly RECORD, each ball without the ball band before you start knitting, and then any unused yarn. This will enable you to calculate exactly how much yarn you used, and then add 10-15 % allowance and round up to balls.
#4 Great photographyYou may have the world’s most amazing creation, but few people will be able to visualise it from a set of instructions. Great pictures are a must to show your creation off to its best including some close up of any special stitch details etc. Although helpful if you have it, you don't need any fancy equipment, and good photos can be achieved with the most basic camera. You can get plenty of great tips online for free if you do your research.
#5 Work with a professional technical editor and/or pattern checkerIf you intend to sell your pattern it is essential to have it edited and checked by a professional tech editor and/or pattern checker (or someone you know with those skills) so you can be sure your pattern is correct and is of a suitable standard. This applies even if you are a pattern checker yourself as you simply cannot proof your own copy. Hiring a tech editor and/or pattern checker is more affordable than you might imagine, and another benefit of doing so is you will learn a lot about pattern writing in the process. They can also help furnish you with charts and/or schematics if you are unable to produce these yourself. Not So Granny has a helpful post on the topic called What is a tech editor? if you need any further persuasion about their value.
So I hope these tips are helpful to you, and that you feel brave enough to have a go at writing your own pattern, if indeed you haven't already. You may have some other great tips to share about this topic - if so, please feel free to add a comment below.
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