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This Week’s Episode
I continue the Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series with a focus on Drafting Your Pattern. In today’s episode, I talk about drafting the written pattern (including pattern grading) and creating the sample.
Thanks to Christine Guest from Christine Guest Designs for reminding me about Cooperative Press’s Style Sheet Questionnaires. These may help designers to develop their own style sheets. Elizabeth Green Musselman developed the knitting version and Lindsey Stephens developed the crochet version. Lindsey was a guest on the podcast back in Episode 10: Time Management Tips.
I also wanted to mention that Dianne from Same DiNamics Crochet recently completed a Crochet Design Series. I was one of ten crochet designers she interviewed. Most of the information is also applicable to knitting. I have linked up her posts below.
- Meet the Designers
- 1 In the Beginning… Design Inspiration
- 2 The Writing Phase
- 3 The Testing Phase
- 4 The Modeling of Your Project Phase
- 5 In the End… Marketing Your Pattern
You may find it interesting to hear the perspectives of multiple designers as you consider which approach works best for your business.
This post contains affiliate links.
Drafting the pattern
There are three major approaches to drafting a pattern.
- Reverse engineering: Designers who take this approach create a sample first and then attempt to deconstruct it, write a pattern, and make a second sample. This is a more organic design process and the designer can “test” the efficacy of the reverse engineering process while making the second sample. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately determine the pattern through this technique and it may produce projects where the patterns are not easy to follow. Additionally, it isn’t very scalable.
- Write as you go: Designers who take this approach stitch one row/round and then write the instructions. This method tends to be more accurate than reverse engineering, but it may not be very scalable.
- Write first, then create the sample: With this approach, the design is thought through first and written up. The designer or sample knitter/crochet then checks the pattern while creating the sample. This is very scalable because the sample isn’t dependent on the designer and it can be tech edited faster. This method can be very challenging for a difficult pattern because the designer may be trying new techniques and/or stitches and will be pulling back frequently.
Consider your current method and whether it fits with your business at this time. Should you introduce another method of drafting the pattern instead?
Creating the sample
Most designers start out creating their own samples. Some eventually outsource the production of samples to sample crocheters/knitters. Sample makers are not quite the same as pattern testers. Here are some key differences.
- Sample makers (in general)…
- Are provided with yarn and compensated financially,
- Do not own the finished sample and have to return it to the publisher, and
- Are required to work the pattern exactly as written, at the same gauge, and in the publisher’s required size.
- Pattern testers (in general)…
- Supply their own yarn,
- Own the finished sample,
- Choose the sample size,
- Often make “tweaks” or customizations to the pattern, and
- May not meet the required gauge.
Several years ago, Karen Ratto-Whooley shared a questionnaire for sample crocheters on her mailing list. It was designed to assess the makers technical skills and attention to detail in reading a pattern, so consider both if you plan to outsource your samples. Sample makers are often compensated by the yard, and you can generally find out about prevailing rates by asking around in the Indy Pattern Designers’ Resources group on Ravelry. The group even has a “stickied” discussion thread called Sample knitters/crocheters.
You can learn more about pattern testers in Episode 3: 8 Tips for Organizing Your First Pattern Test. I’ll also talk about testing in more detail in next week’s episode.
What about pattern grading?
Pattern grading is a process of sizing the pattern up or down sizes and keeping the design integrity the same.
Many designers start by creating multiple samples in different sizes. Unless your designs are very small (like hats), this isn’t very scalable because it adds much more work and time to your self-publishing process.
Grading involves both math and art. Formulas can be used to adjust the stitch counts proportionately for various sizes, but in many instances, design elements will not work the same way in every size. For this reason, some self-published designers limit the size range of their patterns, while others make change to design elements to maintain the integrity.
If you haven’t done pattern grading before, or would like to improve your skills, here are some resources you may find helpful.
- In this bonus episode, I talk with knitting designer and tech editor, Ashwini Jambhekar, about using percent difference – rather than a flat different – between sizes when grading. The examples included in the episode are applicable to crochet as well.
- Kim Guzman frequently offers a Crochet Pattern Grading course online through Crochetville. I took it a few years ago and found it extremely helpful and well organized.
- A crochet designer introduced me to Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters That Fit… and Organize Your Knitting Life At the Same Time. Cheryl Brunette includes detailed schematics for 30 standard sizes, from 6 months to men’s size 50, for drop shoulder, raglan, and set-in sleeve sweaters. The book also thoroughly explains the math behind sweater design and has worksheets you can use to organize your sweater designs.
- Many designers use the Craft Yarn Council size charts to guide their grading decisions.
- Faina Goberstein teaches Sizing Knitwear Patterns on Craftsy. I have not taken this course, but I have heard good things about it from knitting designers.
Another approach is to ask your tech editor to do the grading and/or to walk you through the grading process. This will likely be more expensive than just a pattern edit.
You might also want to try grading a smaller project (like a hat) or a project with minimal shaping (like a blanket) as your first grading experience.
Ask yourself where you want grading to fit in during the pattern writing process – before you make the sample, at the same type as making the sample, or after finishing the sample.
Next week’s episode will be all about Polishing your pattern. We’ll talk about testing and tech editing.
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I will be presenting at the BlogHer ’15 Conference in New York City along with my friend and fellow solopreneur, Carlota Zimmerman from the Creativity Yenta (who was a guest on Episode 16 and Episode 22). We will be part of a workshop on Friday, July 17, 2015 called Social Media Bootcamp: Lightning Lessons in the Latest: LinkedIn, Google+ Hangouts On Air, and Twitter. If your blog is a major part of your business income (or, you’d like it to be), I hope to see you there! If you haven’t already registered, you can take advantage of our friends and family discount for 30% off the Blogger Rate by registering through this link!
How do you draft your patterns and make your samples? Is this working for you or are you planning to make some changes? Let me know about it in the comments here or in the Facebook group, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973.
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