What makes a good knitting pattern

Filed in Just Stitches by on May 17, 2016 15 Comments

Jess here, back again for week 3 of Prize-a-Palooza! This week I’m talking knitting patterns, and what separates the good from the bad.


What makes a good knitting pattern

Gwen and Kellie have had similar discussions throughout the years on this blog. Let’s check in with them about what makes a good knitting pattern:

And of course – even though Gwen and Kellie are pursuing new pathways from here on out, their Two Sides, Two Points pattern line still has it home on Ravelry! If you’re looking for a few good patterns, you’re sure to find some there, because you know how much work Gwen and Kellie put into creating them.

What about you? Here’s your question for the day!

What makes a good knitting pattern, in your eyes? What do you look for in a pattern before you buy it and/or cast on? (Is it the designer’s reputation, the setup, the explanation, having charts, schematics, or more features?)

Answer this question in the comments and you’ll be entered to win some fabulous knitting prizes! Make sure you also leave us a way to contact you if you win – and only one answer per question per person, please!

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Comments (15)

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  1. Carolyn says:

    First I look at who the designer is since I have some faves. But the most important feature for me is what the project is and if it contains something unique — lace, cables, etc. I don’t want to just knit a plain stockinette item. I especially like a pattern with charts; it just makes it easier for me.

    Rav ID:. Brooklyn-knitter

  2. Ellen says:

    If I like the way the final product looks, then I can usually work with the pattern and oftentimes learn something new. I am often drawn to a pattern by the color of the sample, too. I have learned if a pattern is too detailed, I really need to keep track of where I am when I put my needles down.

  3. I like details that make sense to the design and purpose. I dislike “cute” for its own sake. I like charts. I insist on good tech editing.

    I purchase patterns that teach me things I want to learn, such as Woolly Thoughts’ geometrics, Jared Flood’s “Turn-a-Square,” things by Sarah-Marie Belcastro and Gwen.

    I recently tried to fight my way through a pattern that had instructions referring back to other instructions in a very ambiguous way, and resorted to writing a line by line chart for myself. There were critical errors as well as ambiguities; taking money for that pattern was theft. It seemed as though it had been gutted to fit in a space too small to hold all the information needed to succeed. I rewrote it, while some of the KAL participants abandoned it.

    Hoping that in these “don’ts” are implied “do’s.”

  4. Linda Hobbs says:

    A good pattern must be interesting to knit, something i haven’t tried before. It also must be technically accurate. I don’t like a lot of separate pieces where it could instead be knit in one piece at least to a certain point. Charts are a big plus as are blocking diagrams with measurements.

  5. Deb Kegelmeyer says:

    A good pattern has enough of the detail left in the instructions that it is easy to follow. Key for me are charts (when appropriate) and detailed schematics and pictures from different angles. If I misread or cant understand the written directions I use these to figure out where I am going wrong.

  6. Donna says:

    I’ve always been leary of paying for a pattern. I’m the type that wants to read it through, see if I get the gist of it and then purchase it. I’ve bought issues of knitting magazines because I’m able to read through a pattern that catches my eye. If I’m considering buying a Ravelry pattern I’ll look at comments and finished projects to help decide if I want to pay for it. I wouldn’t use any pattern that’s only charted-can’t seem to figure them out. Also prefer projects without seaming, they will be completed. I know I have bags here and there with projects that were knitted but never seamed!

  7. Mari says:

    For paid patterns – First I check pictures. Good quality pictures from items are the must. Also, if I see something like: “I contacted the designer and she hasn’t wrote me back”, that’s red flag for me. I don’t mind little mistakes but I assume that if I pay for the pattern then I’ll get some customer service. BUT, if there are 10 comments with 10 different errors then I won’t buy – that would be selling a pattern and let buyers test it for you.

    Actually, now that I’m thinking about it – I expect that from free patterns too… I don’t expect the designer answer me instantly but she could reply within a week. Also I don’t expect a solution if she can’t handle it (I’d be frustrated though).

  8. Geraldine Scott says:

    Clear directions are important. I struggled through one pattern where I felt there must have been something written ‘between the lines’ that I missed…took a lot of guesswork on my part to make it work…maybe it was just me? Probably not…other people on Revelry had similar issues..

    I also like checkpoints where the pattern tells you how many stitches are on the needle…keeps me in check!

  9. Lynne says:

    In part the reputation of the designer, how is the pattern constructed, what is the use of the final product and am I learning/doing something new. Entrelac is still on my “wanna try it” list.

  10. Barbara Gambrell says:

    I have to have a chart for lace. Chart for cables are good but not mandatory. I want to see stitch counts if there’s a lot of increasing/decreasing. I don’t like “do left like the right, reversing shaping” – lazy designer! I like to have garments knit in one piece if possible – but will adapt a pieced sweater when I can.

  11. Carol says:

    I like a pattern that is visually pleasing….good photography of the finished product, wording and layout that is easy to see and keep track of(decently sized print!), both written instruction and charts; progress points…stitch count, etc., and even pics of techniques that may been unique to the pattern.

    I don’t like it when it is assumed I will know where to pick up or at what rate…yes’ I can often figure this out myself, but if possible, I like to know the designers exact intentions,

    I have seen a correlation between price and quality…yet it sometimes happens I pay a good amount for a pattern, but find it lacks some editing or whatever. It’s kind of like eating out….usually cheap meals aren’t as good as more pricey; yet pricey doesn’t always mean I will love it.

  12. George says:

    I like a classic design with a twist. Something a little different. A different technique. A different design detail.

  13. Debra says:

    I start with the look of the finished product. Is it a garment I love? Next I look through the comments to get Ravelry reviews. Is the pattern free, that is a plus. Finally, can I use stash yarn is a big factor in my decision.

  14. Elke says:

    A good pattern should include a correct gauge ending in the dimensions given. Explain all abbreviations and techniques used within the pattern. State how to cast on and bind off. Have clear instructions and a revision level to make it easy for the knitter to make sure that he or she has the latest version with all potential errata. A good designer should also respond to questions if a knitter finds a problem and take ownership / responsibility for his or her pattern.

  15. Pam says:

    I like patterns that are clearly written AND charted. I find pictures of the product from different angles helpful. Hate when expensive patterns have many errata’s soon after release.

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