Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Pattern Writing Skills with Kate Atherley

When Kate Atherley comes to town, you go to her classes. So when Kate made her way from Toronto, Canada, to Bath in the United Kingdom, of course I had to go. 

Last Sunday was a wet and windy day as I made my way to the magnificent A Yarn Story on Walcot Street for some lessons in pattern writing for knitters. As you know, I have designed a few knitting patterns, but there is always more to learn and I was particularly keen on any tips Kate could give me to make my patterns easy to read. And so she did!

"Enable your knitters to be successful."

The class was three hours long and packed with invaluable advice. I had several moments when I thought, "Ah, I'll need to change this!" or "That will definitely need to go in my patterns from now on." I plan to gradually rewrite my existing patterns and take better photographs, especially of socks, to make them more appealing and informative. After all: "Life is too short to struggle with poor instructions."

As a result, what I need to pay more attention to in my patterns are the following points:

  • make sure to always include gauge information: in stocking stitch and in pattern stitch, always after blocking
  • add notes/suggestions when adding yarn information to make it easier to find yarn substitutions
  • size/fit information: note finished measurements and how the fit is mean to be (positive/negative ease etc.)
  •  add version number/date, contact info and details of where to get more knitting patterns to the end of the pattern
  • be more specific about copyright and what I allow/prohibit regarding the use of my patterns and finished knits made from them

Of course there was a whole lot of additional information that is beyond the scope of this blog post. If Kate Atherley comes to a place near you, it is well worth going to this class so you can get all the detailed tips directly from her.

A little self-discovery

I had a little revelation in class, too. I always knew that my stitches lie differently on my needles as a result of changing my way of knitting several times because no pattern I learned from ever specified what knitting styles they were and how they differed. This always led to issues when I learned new stitches because how I knit into a stitch is different, and this gets very confusing and frustrating sometimes. 

Turns out I am a combination knitter! My stitches lie with the left leg forward (also known as Eastern uncrossed knitting) while most instructions seem to assume it is the right leg that is to the front of the needle. Remember my moaning about no longer being able to figure out the Kitchener stitch after changing the way I knit? Yeah, that's why. Maja from Cloopco explains Eastern uncrossed knitting in this blog post - check out her videos, too.

Further reading

As part of Kate's class, every participant got a copy of her book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers that I am looking forward to reading. (I happen to be mentioned in it, too, as Kate asked me about pattern sales on Etsy. You will find a host of better known knitters and experts in the book who share their knowledge.) Since I was there, I also got a copy of Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. Can't go wrong with that!

Those three hours on a dreary, drizzly Sunday turned out to be very well spent and I am very grateful for the expert advice, especially from the point of view of a tech editor, we received that day. Highly recommended!

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