A knitting pattern needs to include certain essential things, to be sure the knitter can get your results. What needs to be included in a pattern, and what is optional?
I find the most comprehensive a pattern is, all the better for the knitter, if you want your pattern to be accessible to any knitter. It doesn’t mean you have to fully explain every single technique, but including info on where to find a tutorial, and a complete abbreviation list, are a way to get the job done. If it isn’t your style to include these details in your pattern, you may want to state that your pattern is for an experienced, or intermediate, or advanced knitter, and not suitable for a beginner.
The components of a pattern are:
- The name of the pattern, and an introduction.
- What skills are necessary, (and here is where you could say what type of knitter is intended for the 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).
- Sizing information, as well as finished dimensions of the actual piece.
- Pictures. Clear pictures that show off the design, as well as highlight what details matter most in choosing this pattern.
- Detailed instructions.
- Charts and schematics, if applicable.
- Notes, if necessary.
- An abbreviation list, of all abbreviations used in the pattern, with clear descriptions.
- 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.
The absolute necessities are highlighted in blue. I would likely argue that all the components are necessary, as I like a pattern to be a thing unto itself, and find that the best way for it to be successful is for the knitter to have all this information, in a clear and concise way. It ensures that the knitter can achieve your results, if they follow your pattern.
That said, an experienced knitter doesn’t necessarily need any more information than the highlighted bits, but let’s take the optional bits one at a time:
- Intro – explaining a bit about your inspiration or intent for the design often inspires the knitter, gets them excited about your work, and is a great way for them to get to know you and what to expect from you.
- Skills necessary – making this type of list in every pattern really is optional, except if there is an advanced or unique skill that is needed, then it really is helpful to know up front. Here is also a good place to include info on where the knitter can find a tutorial of some kind on any unique, new, or advanced techniques.
- Type of knitter – If a pattern really is not suitable for a beginner, in your mind, it’s best to say so. And if it is suitable for a beginner, saying so might encourage one to choose your pattern.
- Alternative yarn choices – I find this really helpful, to give complete yarn information (wanna know how much? It’s all right here)! The wrong type of yarn can completely destroy the knitter’s chances of getting your results.
- Pictures – There are tons of patterns without pictures, but unless you are unable to take or include even one picture, I would always include as many as you can, that show off important details and uses of your design. A good visual of your design is worth its weight in gold, and knitters love them!
- Notes – If there is something particular about your pattern, that isn’t self-evident, it is best to explain it, simply and clearly, so that the knitter doesn’t have to guess. That could be disastrous.
- Abbreviation lists – Most abbreviations are pretty standard, and experienced knitters may not need this, but any beginner definitely will. And including it leaves nothing to chance. If you don’t like to use comprehensive lists including all abbreviations, do be sure to include all less common and more advanced abbreviations, such as many cable and lace stitches. These are not usually all memorized in the head of even advanced knitters.
- Information about you – Beyond your contact info, you can have a short bio in there, and that is fun for the knitter, but a lot of designers don’t choose to, and that’s totally fine.
- Credits – It’s always considerate to give credit where credit is due, such as to a photographer, or tech editor, etc…, if anyone else worked on your design, but not everyone does. It depends on your point of view.
- Date and pattern number (if applicable) – This can be helpful mostly to you, especially the pattern number, if there is more than one version.
The last three bits are not pertinent to the knitter being able to work the design correctly, and so they are the most optional, and also the most varied from designer to designer, and just as many people include those things, as don’t.
There is a lot to consider when putting together a pattern. Sometimes it can feel like too much, and who wants a pattern that is too overwhelming with too many components and words? Keep in mind, that a pattern can very successfully include all these components and be a joy to read and work from, with my favorite three things: consistency, clarity, and concision. So, write on!