Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting It Down in Writing

Knitting is so much more fun than writing patterns. That's my excuse for being so slow about getting what I've knitted into pattern format. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what format works best for writing patterns. My preference is for patterns written in Elizabeth Zimmerman's "general recipe" style. I would rather be told to "centre the stitch pattern in the back and front sections" than be given explicit instructions about how many stitches to knit before starting at point "X" on a graph. For one thing, detailed instructions increase the odds of pattern-writing errors. However, even EZ was forced to acknowledge that many knitters want a "blind followers" version.
I do my best thinking when I'm out walking, so while I was pondering all of this today, I wandered off east from my front door toward RMC (the Royal Military College). Since I usually strike west, that in itself was an indication that I was in the mood to think in fresh ways.

View from the Lasalle Causeway over to RMC
Cannons at the ready

The Wolfe Island ferry was coming in as I walked down Ontario Street, and I stopped at the bottom of my street to admire the bulbs coming up in the garden of the Frontenac Club Inn.

View from the garden gate on King St. E.
 I'm working on writing up the pattern for my new crossover cardi (still unnamed) and I'm wondering how knitters would feel about a pattern with a little less detail than is customary, but still a little more than the rough outline frequently offered by EZ. Something more than a general recipe, but with some room left for a little thinking and planning by the knitter. After all, knitting is supposed to be a creative activity, right?


  1. Although I would like a less detailed pattern, the people I knit with would not know what to do with it. To sell more patterns I think you need more directions. The thought of math turns many knitters off.

  2. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for the advice. It's as I suspected.

  3. This post brought back great memories of the night we spent at the Frontenac Club Inn a couple of years ago. We really need to get back to Kingston, especially since it's so close.

  4. I vote for recipe style. I'm not sure if you would sell fewer patterns as noted above. You might sell more. I hate the ones that direct me step by step and never buy them.You would of course eliminate beginner knitters as customers.

  5. Hi Brenda,
    Thanks for your input. I don't think my goal is really to sell a lot of patterns. If I was after money, I would never have given up lawyering. On the other hand, I don't want to turn off newer knitters. I really think there's a middle ground and that's what I'm trying to find.

  6. The middle ground is really tricky. To give just enough information so that a beginner can follow but not too much so that there is room for some creative additions is difficult, at least I have found it so. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on tackling this. I'm sure you'll come up with something terrific.