Designing Knitwear: The Basics of Writing Knitting Patterns

Are you ready to take the next step in knitting? What’s the next step? Designing knitwear! Writing your own knitting patterns for custom knitwear is a great way to express your creativity and create items that fit perfectly with your style. Whether you are an experienced knitter or just getting started, understanding the basics of designing and writing knitting patterns can help you create the perfect piece of clothing or accessory.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of designing knitwear and writing knitting patterns so you can create something unique and beautiful.


Do your research

Before you begin designing and writing your own knitting patterns, it’s important to do some research.

Learning about the fundamentals of knitting, such as stitch construction, yarn weights and types, and needle sizes will help you create a successful pattern. It’s also helpful to study existing patterns and designs to get an understanding of how they are constructed and written. Look at different examples and figure out what elements you like and which you don’t. Additionally, look into techniques you may need to use in your design and practice them with swatches until you understand them thoroughly. This will give you confidence in your abilities and ensure that you produce the best possible pattern.


Choose your design elements

When designing your own knitwear, it is important to think about the design elements that will make up your finished piece. Consider what type of knitting you would like to do, as well as which types of yarn and needles you would like to use. For example, do you want to work with a fingering-weight yarn or a bulky-weight yarn? Or perhaps you’d like to use a combination of yarns? Think about how you want the finished product to look and feel.

In addition to the type of yarn you will be using, you should also consider the types of stitches that you would like to include in your pattern. Do you want to use basic knit and purl stitches, or would you prefer more intricate cable and lace stitches? Also, consider what types of shaping you want to incorporate in your design and if they function for the type of project you’re creating; such as decreases, increases, short rows, different heel types, or other types of tailored shaping.

Think about all of these factors when planning out your design. Once you have selected your design elements, it’s time to start swatching!


Create a gauge swatch

Creating a gauge swatch is an important part of designing and writing knitting patterns. This step helps ensure that your finished knitwear will have the desired size and shape. It also gives you the opportunity to try out various yarn fibres before committing to an entire project.

To begin, you’ll need to decide which yarn and needles you plan to use for the project. Different yarns and needle sizes can result in different gauges, so it’s important to make sure you’re using the right materials before you start. You should also familiarize yourself with the stitch pattern you plan to use; different stitch patterns can affect your gauge.

Once you’ve chosen the right materials and know the stitch pattern, you’re ready to create your gauge swatch. Begin by casting on a certain number of stitches and working your stitch pattern. Don’t forget, we should work the swatch, in the same manner, as the intended pattern directions. That is, if your pattern is going to be worked flat, swatch flat. If it’s going to be worked in the round, swatch in the round. Once complete, wash and block the swatch the same way as you’d treat the finished piece.

Now, it’s time to measure. To calculate your gauge, you’ll need to count the number of stitches in 4 inches (or 10 centimeters, depending on your preferred units of measurement) and the number of rows/rounds in 4 inches (or 10 centimeters). Count both horizontally (stitches) and vertically (rows/rounds).

It is important to match the gauge of your swatch when designing your own patterns. Once you know your gauge, you can use it to calculate how many stitches and rows/rounds you’ll need for your project.

Creating a gauge swatch may seem like an extra step, but it is essential for any successful knitwear designer! It will help you determine the right yarn and needle size for your project, as well as give you an idea of what the finished item will look like. With practice, you’ll be able to easily create gauge swatches and use them to accurately calculate the size and shape of your design.


Write your pattern

Writing your pattern is the next step in designing knitwear. This is where you take the elements you’ve chosen and turn them into a real knitting pattern. Before you begin writing, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how to use standard knitting abbreviations and stitch patterns.

When writing your pattern, it’s best to start with the overall shape of the piece. From there, determine the measurements, such as gauge, width, and length. Once you have this information, you can start to break down the pattern into sections. This will help keep your pattern organized and easy to follow.

As you work through the pattern, be sure to double-check your numbers and measurements, and that you’ve included all of the elements you need to have in the pattern (i.e. your mitten has a thumb). Even small errors can lead to big problems if they’re not corrected.

Once you’ve written your pattern, it’s time to knit your sample. Remember to jot down any notes or ideas that come to mind while you’re working on the sample piece. Keeping track of any changes or modifications you make while knitting your sample will allow you to update the pattern accordingly without trying to recall what you had done. Once you’ve completed your sample, it’s time to update the pattern to match what you’ve done!

Finally, consider any additional tips that you can include for knitters working with your pattern. If there are any special techniques that may require extra attention, add extra instructions or advice to ensure that the knitter has a successful experience working with your pattern.

Writing a hand-knit pattern may seem daunting, but with a bit of practice and attention to detail, it’s possible to create beautiful designs that others will love and want to make. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create stunning knitwear and write knitting patterns like a pro!

Next, you’ll want to have your pattern test knit and tech edited. Some designers prefer to tech edit before having their pattern test knit to ensure a smoother test knitting process. Other designers prefer to test knit before tech editing to reduce tech editing costs. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it. It’s whatever you feel is best for you and your design.


Test Knitting

Once you have written and edited your pattern, it’s important to test it before you publish it. Knitting your sample is not testing the pattern. Test knitting is when you have other people test the pattern to ensure it’s clear and concise, and that others end up with the same results as you did with your sample. If possible, try to get multiple people to test your pattern to ensure that it works for everyone. If your pattern has multiple sizes, try to have each size tested. Here are a few tips for running a test knit and what to expect from your test knitters:

1. Have testers read through your pattern and ensure all the instructions make sense to them. Look for any potential errors or typos or clarity issues.

2. Verify your gauge and yardage are achievable and match the finished measurements you outlined in your pattern.

3. They knit up a sample of your pattern and take detailed notes as you go. They report any problems with the pattern and provide feedback on the instructions.

4. Testing gives you the opportunity to see your design in different colours, suitable yarn substitutes, and the social proof that others have created your design successfully!

Testing your pattern is an important step in making sure that it is accurate and easy to follow. With a bit of effort and time, you can make sure that your knitting patterns are both beautiful and professional!


Hire Tech Editor

Technical Editing is a crucial part of the design process. Just like an author sends their book to an editor before it’s published, knitwear designers send their patterns to a technical editor before publishing their patterns. It is impossible for a knitwear designer to tech edit their own patterns successfully. No matter how many times you go through your pattern, a TE (tech editor) will still find things.

Tech editing is a professional service done before a pattern goes live; services can include pattern grading (making the pattern available in multiple sizes), schematic development, chart development, ensuring style is consistent through the pattern, etc. (different tech editors offer different services, a full list of what hiring me as your tech editor includes can be found here).

With a little bit of editing and polishing, your pattern will be ready to publish!


Publish your pattern

When your pattern is complete, having gone through all the steps above, and you’re satisfied with the results, it’s time to publish it. This can be done either digitally or in print. Digital publishing means making your pattern available for download from your website, a pattern-sharing site, or even a direct email link. Print publishing requires a bit more work—you’ll need to format your pattern correctly, arrange for printing, and arrange for distribution.

When you decide to make your pattern available for sale, you’ll also need to create a pricing strategy and determine how you want to offer the pattern—in individual copies or as part of a collection or set. You should also think about the format of your pattern—pdf, interactive pdf, Ravelry store download, etc. You may want to consider whether you will offer customer support with your patterns and what kind of documentation you should provide to ensure that your customers understand the pattern.

Finally, don’t forget about marketing! Your pattern won’t sell if no one knows about it. Make sure to share it on social media and other online platforms to reach as many people as possible. Additionally, networking with fellow knitwear designers and yarn companies can help spread the word about your new pattern.

Good luck and happy knitting!

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