Knitting Patterns reinvented

As you can imagine I spend a great deal of time looking at patterns. Sometimes I’m writing them and other times reviewing them.
There are very standard pattern conventions I follow. I use a fairly standard set of abbreviations and contractions and I try to provide a fairly wide range of sizes without so much that the pattern becomes overwhelming to read.
Every time I write for a different publisher I have to rewrite my patterns to suit their convention. With UK magazines cm are dominant and you change your bind offs for cast offs, etc. With US magazines there are kept very tight and often juggle the writing style around to suit their standard. The publisher that got me thinking the most though was Brooklyn Tweed. He removes all contractions, st is always stitch, and the tone is kept conversational.
I think for pattern style I settle somewhere in the middle. I like to be able to take my time and write a few lines to explain what I’m doing so knitters have a ‘roadmap’ in their head as they begin the pattern. However I think most knitters are so comfortable with the basic contractions (st, RS, WS, k, p, st st) that it’s not really necessary for them all to be spelled out. If you print the pattern less is definitely more!
But this is where my question for you knitters comes in.

Do you print the pattern?

Or do you just print part of it?

Do you like everything written in full English or do you think abbreviations are just fine?

Somewhere in my future (hopefully not too far away!) I want to put an knitting pattern app together.

What would you like to see in an app that would make knitting from a pattern easier?


A few ideas:

Only your size show.
Every abbreviation expands into full definition and video if you need it.
Highlight tracking as you read through the pattern.

I’d love to be able to go even one step further and have an app that charts the entire pattern for you, highlighting decrease and increase rows. If it was customised to just your size it would work really easily as you don’t have to see 9 or 10 different charts, just your own.
The volume of work involved in this makes my head ache BUT I think it would be a pretty cool knitters tool!

What do you think? Give my your pattern and app thoughts!

Posted in Design work

23 thoughts on “Knitting Patterns reinvented

  1. I print my patterns out, as many of them include charts (which I prefer to written instructions) and I can’t work from charts on a screen as I constantly scribble on them. As to written instructions, I’d be happy with abbreviations, as that is what I have grown up with and always have the key handy if need be.

  2. KnitConnection, an iPad app, aims to do all of that, and is moderately successful. Sally Holt, the author, is available to incorporate ideas and feedback and she helps individuals learn how to use her app. Lucy Neatby and Laura Nelkin have both published patterns for the app, with videos at crucial how-to stages. I’ve used it sparingly because there are limitations to working directly from a screen-device: you have to touch the screen from time to time, it tends to slide off your lap, an errant brushy finger-tap can change your perspective dramatically.

    I print my patterns! I use highlighting tape to mark the graph rows.

    I think both JDKnitPro and KnitConnection could offer what I really need — a chance to enter my actual gauge, the size I want to make, amount of ease and, say, my own measurements of shoulder-width and where my waist is with respect to my underarm. Then I could print a pattern to my specs, highlighting the lines or words I needed, expanding the abbreviations if I wished, etc.

    Could you work on that for us, please?

  3. I’ve come across knit companion (I think that’s the one you mean?) and it’s got some great features. I guess I wanted to go one step further so that it was more interactive, primarily on my part so that it individualized the pattern a bit more.

  4. I print only the part of patterns that I really need; leaving out pictures, explanation for abbreviations, needle sizes, notions etc. Saving paper and ink :)

    Abbreviations are quite enough and if possible rather charts.

  5. I print the pattern and then do a lot of note taking on it. Highlighting my size and making row notes for decreases, increases etc. So a custom size app would be great, especially if I could make highlights one rows noting what I did when. Also for a lace pattern, or cable for that matter, I find myself always referring back to the one page that has the chart abbreviations on it. On the last pattern, I finally wrote the ones I couldn’t remember at the top of the page so as not to have to keep looking back. Your idea for an app sounds wonderful.

  6. I always print my patterns in full, although when I misplace them I’ll sometimes work from the PDF on my ipad till the paper version reappears. I take heaps of notes on my printed patterns — highlighting instructions for my size, circling any key instruction I might miss (like “at the same time” — I ALWAYS miss that one!). I don’t mind abbreviations. I can always look them up if I’m confused. Though I adore Brooklyn Tweed’s patterns, it is a little absurd to have to print a 13 or 14 page pattern! I actually don’t know that I would use an app for patterns, since printing them out and taking notes is so important to my process. Maybe I would if it had a way for me to make my own notes on patterns.

  7. Do you print the pattern? Or do you just print part of it?
    Ironically enough, I do print out patterns (even though I’m technically a member of the ‘digital generation’). I don’t however, print everything. If I’ve downloaded a pattern, I print exactly what I need for the pattern. If there’s an extra page of images or something like that I don’t print it. So I just print part of it.

    Do you like everything written in full English or do you think abbreviations are just fine?
    Either way is fine for me. The most common abbreviations are easy enough to remember and are easy enough to look up if you don’t remember them. What’s a pain is if it’s a very uncommon abbreviation and you have no idea what it actually means.

    What would you like to see in an app that would make knitting from a pattern easier?
    All of your ideas are great and a way to organize the files are good too. The only issue *I* have is that I’m firmly on the ‘Android’ side of things. The one app the ladies at my LYS are always gushing over is Apple-only. So if you DO make an app, can you please make it for Android too? I would LOVE a knitting app that I could actually use, but as an Android user I’m SOL! Also, a way to make notes on the pattern and track my gauge.

    Good luck with the app!

  8. I’m a pretty new knitter, but I’d *love* to have an app that did what you’re describing! I have to admit that I haven’t tried KnitCompanion, however. Right now I print my patterns, enlarging any charts for easy viewing. I use a post-it note to mark my row, or I sometimes use my chart holder and the longer magnetic markers. I’m fine with abbreviations.

  9. I put my patterns on GoodReader on my iPad. Then I can annotate it and highlight parts (i.e. what size/size directions). I can also use it to zoom in on charts.

    I too write patterns and feel that the standard abbreviations are just fine. If you have a list of them at the beginning of the pattern you should be able to use them freely throughout the rest of the pattern.

    I too am a bit conversational in my patterns. At times I try to explain something as if you were sitting right next to me.

    The whole metric/non-metric bit is annoying though I do admit! :)

  10. I print out my patterns and do not have a smart phone. I make all sorts of notations from adjusting it to my size and variants of the pattern.

    My second vest from a pattern was written by E. LaVold. It was written for someone with much more knitting knowledge than I. I scanned the magazine and blew up the font and went through with ocr for search and replace for most of her abbreviations that would make my head hurt. The common ones are fine. But when most of the line is abbreviations it was too easy to loose the thought and place.

    This year I am going out of my way to only use well written patterns, including yours.

    Thanks.

  11. I print patterns out in full, then I highlight my size in brightly colored marker. I also use post-it notes to indicate increases and decreases. YMMV, but it works for me.

  12. I print out all my patterns, but just the instructional part, not the pages with gauge, needle size, yarn suggestion, images, etc. I don’t mind abbreviations so long as there is a key somewhere. I tend to mark up my patterns and use post-it notes to track rows. If I use a chart, I put it on a magnetic board and use a magnetic ruler to keep track of rows. I do keep track of any modifcations I’ve made on my Ravelry project pages but otherwise do not use any apps and probably wouldn’t.

  13. I have Knit Companion on my phone, so I can access any part of the pattern should I need it. The chart portion is impossible for me to read on my smartphone, so I always print that part out and have it in my project bag. I also print out the schematic. I am a machine knitter too, and am used to using a schematic with instructions (abbreviated) written along the lines telling me when and what to do. I find this as easy as reading a chart and less time consuming than actually reading through all the pattern instructions.

  14. I print out patterns. Claudia (above) wrote about the mishaps that can occur with tablets. I agree with her. I do look at the pdf and see if I can do without some pages, especially if there are quite a few photos. Sometimes a pattern has a chart for a shawl and a cowl so I print the information for which ever item I am knitting. I make notes all over my patterns.

    Abbreviations are fine with me.

    The one thing I would love to have in an app is the ability to enter a different gauge and then generate the pattern using that gauge. I prefer to knit yarn to the fabric I like or to the tension that best suits the yarn fabric given features of the pattern.

  15. I love the idea of your app- especially if it could highlight the chart row you’re on. I’m knitting a scarf with a really long lace repeat and I keep losing my place looking at it on my computer scree.
    I have printed just the chart so I can highlight as I go.
    If I’m knitting something simple I won’t necessarily print it or make a working copy(ie:from a book or magazine).
    For sweaters or anything I’m making changes to, I print a copy so I can write on it. I would also love the ability to make changes to a pattern- That would be amazing! I make a lot of mods, sometimes involving gauge changes which can mean all of the stitch counts are different. Or I’ll insert cables or lace or whatever- so being able to change an existing pattern would be something I would absolutely invest in.
    Thanks for asking.

  16. I never print patterns or charts, I always read them straight from my iPad or MacBook (or iPhone if I am out and about). I don’t mind abbreviations but it would be great to be able to tap and have the abbreviation expand as it can be annoying to scroll to the abbreviations section each time. Also the ability to only show your size rather than making sure you are referring to the correct size in the group would be very useful. I have used Knit Companion before but really only to track which row I am up to on a chart. Your ideas sound great, I would love to use an app like that!

  17. I print the entire pattern for reference & also make a copy to mark up for my notations in sizing, alterations, etc. Abbreviations are totally acceptable – most knitters will understand the basics you mentioned.

  18. I hardly ever print a pattern, only occasionally a chart if it’s to hard to memorize or look on the pdf on my phone. I knit too many things and find it unnecessary to print out so much all the time. I also always have many of my patterns handy in my phone that’s with me everywhere I go (my iBook app is like a pattern library).

    I would love a user friendly app. With many features described above. I particularly like the idea of being able to highlight for the size I’m doing. To be able to have a little library of my patterns where I would be able to make notes that are related to the pattern, like yarn used, needle size, gauge etc. (I know that’s what Ravelry is good for but I’m a disaster when it comes to posting things there, I’ve tried :/ )

  19. I usually print out a pattern because I like to write all over them. I do have KnitCompanion, but don’t use it because I only have an iphone. Maybe someday if I get an ipad and have a larger screen I will use it more. It does have a lot of advantages once you learn how to use all the features, but that takes a bit of time.

  20. I’m spanish but I’m used to read patterns in english. I definitively prefer abbreviations, they help me to get a basic idea of the construction of a garment at a glance, but, of course, I appreciate conversational explanations… I print the pattern (only the directions), highlight my size and take a lot of notes. However, it’s great to have photos of the pattern in your computer for reference.

    I’m not a tablet user. I’ve got a “fablet” (Galaxy Note) and a MacBook. More than a app, for me it would be great to have “interactive downloads”, where you can enter your measurements and your gauge and get the numbers that fit you better. Or get an explanation for certain abbreviation if necessary. And then, print it…

  21. I always print my patterns, so I can tote them around in my knitting bag and make marks and notations in pencil all over them. I’d probably try a knitting app, but I have a kindle fire HD and an iphone, no ipad (yet). I think the highlighting would be necessary and maybe some time of “mark your place” tool too. Can’t use my pencil on an electronic piece of equipment. I like conversational, written out patterns, along with the abbreviations.

  22. Hi Carol,
    I just started using KnitCompanion religiously and love it. I have also taken Carla Scott’s Craftsy Cabled sweater class and am so enjoying doing all the math that is involved with shaping (I am a math teacher). I would love (and maybe it is already out there) an all in one stop app. That is a place where I can input my measurements and a schematic is drawn up. Then I would like an area that allows me to create my own chart, then allow me to also create full versions of front, back and sleeves, etc to draw in the shaping as needed.
    Am I reaching for the sky? or is there something out there that I don’t know about?

  23. Hi Carol
    I always print the full pattern. I’m a smaller size in the hips than in the shoulders, so I usually need to combine 2 sizes, and then adjust any waist shaping to accommodate these changes. I also tend to need to add lenght to the body and sleeves. Not sure how an app would deal with these types of adjustment. I love the idea of abreviations that expand into full definiations/video.

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