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.
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.
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.
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:
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!