Monday, November 14, 2011

Pattern Quality

One of the things that hurts about losing some machine knitting magazines is the drop in quality of available patterns.

If you write for a magazine, you have an editor who sets requirements.  The editor makes sure that published patterns include things like yarn requirements, shape diagrams, abbreviation definitions, appropriate photos, type of machine, and stitch pattern diagrams.  The editor also provides something very powerful - a second set of eyes!  We all have trouble seeing our own mistakes and omissions.

Remember some of the magazines we used to be able to get (Knitwords, for one!) that had incredible directions and photos?

I have been reading some other people's self-published patterns lately that I had in my book stash (yes,  I do buy from other designers, supporting talented people as much as I can), and even trying to knit some, and I was just so disappointed that there isn't enough information to knit them.  Some didn't include the stitch pattern.  Some sound interesting, but have no photograph at all.  Some were garments, but failed to give a gauge or measurements.  One said, L, XL, XXL but didn't say how big those sizes are!  Some mention obscure yarn and don't explain what the yarn is like or tell how much to buy.

Grrr.  We have to do better than this if we want happy MKers out there.

Now, I am not unsympathetic to the difficulty of making accurate, complete patterns, because I struggle myself.  Humans make mistakes, but please, if you're publishing patterns, raise the bar a little and do the best you can, not just dash something off with a lick and a promise.

My father was a pilot.  He followed a pre-flight checklist, which is a strategy to reduce human error.  I follow something of a pre-publication checklist myself, and then my husband checks all the numbers for me.  I also ask people to test my patterns. 

Now I'm giving myself a good talking-to to get some great testers for the upcoming shaped Entrelac book.  Any volunteers out there?  Entrelac is time-consuming.


  1. I'll volunteer! I'm totally in agreement with you on the need for COMPLETE instructions. I've been through the same thing lately. You pull a book off the shelf find a pattern that sounds interesting, but there isn't enough information and there isn't even a picture to allow you to guess what your missing. Arrrg!

    I would love to test knit for you. I have a Brother KH-965i

  2. I have been writing a few patterns for MK this year.Sorry-they are in Norwegian!I really do want to understand entrelac!Synnøve

  3. I have a Singer 155 bulky and a Studio 360 standard if you want a tester for your shaped Entrelac. I've been working on the tote bage from your previous Entrelac booklet.

    1. Karla, please contact me at diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net so I can send the pattern.

  4. Diana, first of all, I SO appreciate your very professional and precise patterns and vidoes. I'm also a professional pilot, so I totally understand the importance of checking and re-checking. I would LOVE to be a pattern tester for your circular entrelac. I taught myself to do entrelac on the machine by looking at hand knitting patterns and was thrilled when I figured it out.

  5. I have about 3 lbs each white and brown DK yarn, destined to become an Entrelac throw. I would love to test your patterns.

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful comments about pattern writing. Although I have used machines for more that 10 years I am one of those people who totally relies on the patterns to be correct.

    When I set out to make an item using a pattern that I have given money for I expect that I will get the correct result without having to second guess the writer or rewrite the pattern. If I want to spend my time that way I would not purchase the pattern I'd "wing it " and know that my results might be less than great.

    It is not easy to write accurate directions. Wise people, such as you, ask others to proof or test their work. Thank you for that.
    Elizabeth near Niagara Falls Canada