All About Style Sheets

If you are going to design and write knitting patterns, it’s a good idea to have a style sheet. (No need to worry or stress if you don’t have one, and we’ll get to that later). A style sheet acts like a guide and a checklist for you, and your tech editor, to be sure everything necessary is included, and that it is how you like it.

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A lot of information needs to be given in a pattern, and I tend to think that the most information you can give the knitter, the better. You never know when there may be a brand new knitter buying your pattern, who will need all the details. A pattern has a lot of components; it needs to include:

  • The name of the pattern, and an introduction. Some designers like this to be simple, and some like to add their inspiration or vision for the design. Completely up to you, and how you approach your pattern writing.
  • What skills are necessary, keeping in mind that beginners may pick up your pattern.
  • What materials are needed, including all needles, notions, and yarn (and here I might say to give all possible information about the yarn used, including weight, brand, contents, and yardage/meters, as many knitters substitute yarn, and will need the details to make a good choice).
  • Gauge and sizing information, as well as  finished dimensions of the actual piece; you may even need to include gauges in different stitch patterns.
  • Pictures. Clear pictures that show off the design, as well as highlight what details matter most in choosing this pattern. You can never have too many pictures.  We knitters love them!
  • Detailed instructions (and there are so many variations on how these can be written, which a style sheet is especially helpful for), including any charts or schematics necessary; also any notes on the pattern that the knitter will need to know.
  • An abbreviation list, of all abbreviations used in the pattern, with clear descriptions. Here is an excellent list by knitwear designer, Michelle Krause (you can find her online at this website). You can also refer to the Craft Yarn Council’s master list here. Be sure to include any special stitches you might be using, and how to execute them.
  • Your contact information, and more information about you, if you care to share it. As well as yourself, you should credit any others who worked on your pattern.
  • Your copyright statement, as well as the date and pattern number, if you have one. These usually go at the end, or even sometimes repeated at the bottom of each page, with a page number. Again, it depends on your personal taste.

So, whew! That’s a lot of stuff to remember to include, and to remember how you like to do it, and to make sure you didn’t miss anything, every time you write a pattern.  When you have a style sheet, you can just tick down the list, and double check that everything is as you like it. So if you do draw up a style sheet, it will include not only what you need to write, but how you want it to be written, as in:

What sorts of brackets or punctuation do you use in your instructions? How do you want your name to be presented, and do you want to include some personal information? Do you capitalize all lines, and end all with a period, or not? Do you plan to use both metric and US measurements, or are your designs more geographically specific? All of these questions, and many more, need to be answered, and any answer is fine.  All designers have their own uniqueness that should shine through in their patterns, and therefore will have their own ways they want things to be written, and want things to look. 

Here is an idea of what is needed on a style sheet, to give you a sense of what to include, put together by fellow tech editor, Cyndi Tiedt. Find Cyndi here.

You will likely want to tweak any resource you find to suit your personal style, and that is awesome, as long as the instructions remain clear, accurate, and easy for the knitter to understand and follow.  There is some wiggle room in a style sheet! As well as being concise and clear, it’s also about how you want to present your designs, and keeping your style consistent through all your patterns (which a style sheet is super helpful for), helps you have a face out there.

Here is a comprehensive style sheet template made up by knitwear designer and tech editor, Kephren Pritchett. Her website can be found here.

These style sheets are a good jumping off point, if you aren’t sure where to start.  A lot of tech editors, myself included, can create a style sheet for you, and work with you on what matters most to you, so that it represents your unique style. Check to see if it is a service your tech editor provides, if you want to hire someone to help you. You might consider these resources for starting out:

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My all time favorite resource on pattern writing is hands down Kate Atherley’s book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, and you can find out more about it at her website by clicking here. I don’t think there is anything she misses in this book. There is also a Craftsy class you can take on writing clear and correct knitting patterns, by Edie Eckman, that includes style sheet templates, yes, but many more lessons on how to best communicate your designs.

The most important thing is that your patterns be clear and correct, so that more knitters will want to knit them, and that your patterns reflect who you are, and what you want to share with them. 🙂

A style sheet is a great tool in helping you get it right every time! But as I said earlier, don’t stress if you don’t have one, just take your time and be sure you’ve included it all, and it’s all consistent.  And if you are sending a design out for tech editing, you can include another pattern of yours, that is exactly correct and how you like it, and the tech editor can use that as a guide. Conversely, if you don’t have any style reference to send, most tech editors can edit your design by checking for consistencies in style and format, and making sure your intentions are clear.

Happy styling and designing!

kristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Exactly Does a Tech Editor Do?

Lots of new designers may be unfamiliar with what a tech editor is, or how it can be indispensable to the success of their patterns.  And simply, a knitting tech editor is the person who goes through your pattern with a fine tooth comb, checking every word, every number, every line, to be sure they are error-free, clearly stated, and include all the necessary information that the knitter will need.

They will check that the gauge given matches up with the dimensions provided; they will look at all grammar and spelling and check for any typos or errors, as well as any inconsistencies with the style of the pattern, to be sure everything is a clear as it can be.

A tech editor will double check all the math involved in determining stitch counts and row counts to be sure it is correct, and all numbers given are accurate. They will look to see that all necessary components of a pattern are there, what skills are needed, what materials are needed, and any glossary information the knitter may need.

As well, they will scrutinize any pictures you give, to be sure the pattern matches exactly what is shown. Any charts or schematics included will be checked by your tech editor to be sure that they match up with all the written instruction, also. And this is all done for every size given, and every line, every number, every word of the pattern.

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Tech editors use spreadsheets, and graph paper, note paper, online editing software, different pens and pencils, lots of different books and online resources, as well as any ideas or comments you have, to do their job right. Tech editors work very hard to be sure they don’t make any errors; after all, you are counting on that! Errors may get made, but are usually caught and corrected long before your pattern goes to publish.

Most tech editors, after sending the pattern back to you with their edits, will check it again a final time once you’ve made corrections, to be sure you are good to go.  And most tech editors will give you an estimate cap when you first submit your pattern, so you don’t have any surprises about what the cost will be. A lot of new tech editors offer lower rates, and are happy to work with brand new designers, who are just starting out, like they are.

Without a doubt, a designer should be able to find a tech editor that they can work with easily, who is friendly and helpful, and above all, accurate, and adheres to their style.   And this is why a tech editor is indispensable: Consider that if a knitter buys your pattern, and it’s a struggle to knit because of errors, they aren’t likely to buy more of your patterns, and that would be no good at all!

To read more about whether or not you really need a tech editor, click here. 🙂

kristina

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Do I Need a Tech Editor?

If you’ve seen my patterns, then you know that when I rarely do design, I do not design complicated things!  I love tech editing, and go over my clients’ patterns again and again with a critical eye, making sure to catch any mistakes lurking there, and find them! But it is amazing, that with my own very simple patterns, it is all too easy to miss errors in my own work.  Most tech editors I know, if they design also, always hire fellow tech editors to edit their own patterns; because it is always a good idea to get a fresh pair of eyes on something you are too close and personal with. Someone else will always think of something you didn’t. And a professional knitting tech editor is your best choice.

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When you’ve lived with a design long enough, and spent a lot of time building the pattern, it’s tough to catch every little thing.  Your eyes are just too used to seeing it all, and it looks just fine.  And bottom line, it is very difficult to come at your own work in a completely objective way, allowing you to see those mistakes, even if you are a whiz at proofreading and editing, reading patterns and math. If you want your design worked the way you want, so knitters can get the result you intend, hiring a tech editor to go over it first with a fine tooth comb, even before you send it out for test knitting, can assure that you are putting out the product you want, and that the knitter can easily reap those rewards.

kristina

 

 

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Punctuation Points

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One of the things we check in tech editing a pattern is style and format, including consistent and complete use of punctuation. Punctuation isn’t knitting.  It isn’t the stitches or the design, or the method or the math, and it’s not exciting; but in a knitting pattern, it is essential that it be present, and above all, consistent.

These marks are like background noise – we don’t really notice it, and it blends into the pavement (yes, I totally got that phrase from Luigi in Cars), but when the sound is shut off, it’s really obvious. Same with punctuation – we don’t really notice it, but if it’s wrong, it’s very confusing, and that is especially true in a knitting pattern. Normally, if a comma is misplaced, or a period forgotten, most times we can figure it out based on context clues, but in a knitting pattern, that isn’t always possible at all. It’s like that thing you don’t notice, but when it’s gone, you’re like, “Huh? What do I do?”

For example, when placing commas between directions within a row, forgetting any can be confusing to the knitter: k1 p2, yo p2, k1. (“Huh?”) It might make you think the instruction is different than the last, and it’s also harder to read.

And in a pattern, there is a lot of room for individual style, so all designers use punctuation differently. How do you use your commas, periods, semi-colons, colons, brackets, parentheses, dashes, asterisks, and even, spaces? Some, most, or all of these are usually present in a modern knitting pattern, and using them consistently will exponentially ensure that there is no confusion to the knitter.  So, however you choose to use them, and most any way is fine, be sure to use them in the same manner, and for the same purpose throughout the pattern. It is a huge component in a clear pattern, and a clear pattern is what we want.

For example, if you are using a * in one line to denote where a repeat begins, then you wouldn’t want to use brackets for that in another line, or the knitter may not know   what you want them to do.

If you have your measurement in inches in parentheses, and then your measurement in centimeters in brackets, don’t reverse them later on in the pattern, or the knitter may end up with some interestingly sized garment!

Even how you use spaces makes a difference, and if it is the same throughout, it is easier to read, and that makes it easier to understand. And having our patterns easy to understand is definitely a top goal in writing them! We may not realize how important punctuation is in a pattern, but then if we knit from a pattern where style and format are inconsistent, their importance becomes very obvious.  Background noise can be a lovely, welcome sound. 🙂

kristina

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