There seem to be a handful of jobs everyone secretly thinks they can do. Run a bed and breakfast is one, open an adorable little bookshop is another. For knitters, their daydreams are often a bit more yarn focused. Many of them seem to flirt with the idea of either having their very own yarn store or designing knitting patterns.
Three out of the four of those sound amazingly hard. They require you to have some sort of physical building people can visit, and they likely require the help of lawyers and accountants and insurance professionals and quite possibly a knowledge of city building codes and zoning regulations and other alarmingly adult things. But that last one…that pattern writing thing…that one is a bit less daunting. That sounds like the sort of thing one could ease in into fairly gradually. It might even be the sort of thing you can mostly do at home in your pajamas.
And, now that Kate Atherley has written Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, it’s easier than ever to try your hand at writing your own patterns.
Kate explains that the book is meant for “any knitter who creates his or her own designs and is looking to write instructions to allow others to knit those designs.” That applies to an awful lot of knitters. If you want to share your creations with friends, make them available on your blog, submit them to a magazine, or publish them yourself, this book will help you do that. (And, on my more curmudgeonly days, I would also suggest that anyone who knits from patterns might find it useful to look through it, if only to see exactly how much work goes into producing the knitting patterns they use.)
Part pep talk (“good pattern writing matters because we want knitters to keep knitting”), part instruction manual (just what should be in that pattern in the first place, and how should it be organized), and part reference guide (really, do read the appendices, they’re worth the price of admission all by themselves), this book will make anyone toying with the idea of writing their first pattern feel like they know where to start. It will come in awfully handy if you’ve already got a few patterns under your belt, too. It will help you find ways to make your patterns more consistent and coherent (and probably help you streamline your pattern writing process a bit, too).
And, if you’re already fairly comfortable writing patterns and have your own style firmly in place, you’ll enjoy it, too. Full disclosure, there are one or two things Kate and I do slightly differently. These aren’t hard and fast, right vs wrong things, just differences in style. We’ve had some fascinating conversations about them when she’s tech edited the patterns I’ve had in knitty. It’s actually really fun to geek out about the technical details of pattern presentation with someone else who gets it, even if you don’t both end up coming to exactly the same conclusions. But, even if there are a few areas where we present our information differently, it’s always interesting to see how other people approach a subject you know well. And Kate does a fabulous job of explaining why she suggests doing things a particular way, which is tremendously helpful. If you understand why someone’s taken one approach, it can help you decide how you want to handle the same issue.
In short, if you’re considering writing patterns, this will make it seem less scary. If you’re new to writing patterns, this will make you more efficient. And if you’ve been doing it for a while, it will be fun to see just how someone else approaches this funny thing we do. You can find all the details about how to buy a copy (paper or electronic) for yourself over here.
And, Kate’s generously offered one of you an electronic copy of the book. If you think it should be yours, leave a comment telling me what you think about writing your own knitting patterns. Do you secretly want to do it? Tried it already? Trying to make it a full time job? There’s no right or wrong answer, I just want to know how you feel about it!
Comments left between now and the end of the day Thursday, February 12, 2015 will be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send the book their way. Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winner). If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them.
The cover images is Kate’s and is used here with permission.