Alison here! - This week I have teamed up with one of the most amazing people that I know: Kathleen, the maker behind Country Pine Designs.
Kathleen has been tirelessly working behind the scenes to help bring OML to life, and if you're lucky enough to join us at our first NYC meet-up this July you'll be well fed because of her.
We love getting feedback from you guys about what you want to hear from us – and this week's tip is directly from a reader's request about a favorite of both mine and Kathleen's --- that's right, we're talking patterns!
I was so excited when Kathleen informed me that she began writing patterns after one of her Instagram followers expressed an interest for one of her hat patterns. At first, she was really intimidated and initially thought she'd be unable to write a pattern and that she simply wasn't a good enough knitter to actually write down her craft - but soon realized how false her thinking was! She knows now that if you are able to knit, and it's something that you enjoy, then you can definitely write it down to share with others! Pattern writing is a process - sometimes a frustrating one - but Kathleen reminded me that once you see the joy that it brings to a fellow maker, the process is totally worth it!
When I myself first started knitting, I also found patterns quite intimidating. But the further I got into my craft journey, the more I realized that knitting from a pattern is relatively easy, especially when it's a good pattern.
So how do you actually write one? Well, Kathleen and I have put together our best tips on how to read, write and publish a pattern of your own!
Ready to get writing with us? Let's Go!
Tip 1: Write Everything Down
Alison: This step is often the hardest for us as makers. When I start working on something new, I often knit, frog and test out new ideas without marking anything down until I am satisfied with how the project looks. Guess what I've learned? At the point of doing all of that it's often too late. It's much better to take notes as you go, marking down when you ripped something out or changed your project's course will really help you write down your final pattern.
Tip 2: Reflect and ponder the 'reader will get stuck'/pattern problem areas
Kathleen: When writing a pattern, I like to think about a few things: Would someone be able to understand this if they were a new knitter or crocheter? Am I providing all of the details for someone to complete this project? What techniques/processes were difficult for me to understand and master while making this piece? Chances are, you're not alone in your thinking and someone will have similar questions later to the ones you ask yourself now.
Tip 3: Test It Out
Alison: Once you have tested your pattern, rip out your project and test it again. Do this about 4 more times until you feel comfortable enough asking your friends to test it out for you.
Kathleen: When I have finished writing a pattern, I print out a copy for myself and follow my directions to the tee, looking to see if I run into any problems, and if the pattern makes sense. If I hit some pattern roadblocks, I take notes and rewrite the pattern as necessary.
Tip 4: Be as detailed as possible
Kathleen: Don’t be afraid to use too much detail. More is always better! However, make sure that you organize your thoughts in a way that are easy to follow. I am a rambler, and so often I will look back at a pattern and realize that no one other than myself will be able to follow what I have written down! So if you can, have someone proofread your pattern to make sure that it's clear and understandable.
Alison: Instead of writing use 'color B' on row 1 and then use 'color C' on row 5, explain what is actually happening at this point in the pattern. For example, "For the next 6 rows you will be alternating colors B and C to make a striped pattern." Detail, detail, detail - it's key.
Tip 5: Provide resources for beginners
Kathleen: Giving examples of different methods you prefer in your pattern is helpful to beginners and for makers who are still trying to figure out various techniques.
Alison: I like to add the resources that helped me when I first started knitting. For example, adding in something like "I like to use the long tail cast-on method for my projects. You can learn about it through this link if you don't already know how to cast-on."
Tip 6: Answer Questions
Kathleen: Provide your email! No matter how much detail you go into, or what tips you provide within your patten, a question will always arise. I always make sure I clearly state within my pattern that I am available to answer any questions via email.
Tip 7: Step Back
Kathleen: HAVE FUN! Pattern writing can be and is really enjoyable! So if you find yourself getting upset or discouraged in the process (and we all sometimes hit those moments), take a step back and come back to it after a little while.
Tip 8: Be Creative & Confident
Kathleen: Every person brings something new to the table when it comes to pattern writing. Don't worry about what other patterns look like. I'm not saying to ignore other patterns for inspiration, but consider how you want your pattern to look! I can't tell you the amount of nervousness I still get when posting a pattern. I'll think: "What if it doesn't make sense? or "What if someone doesn't like it?" When you feel this way, just take a breath and remember this: if you have taken the time to proofread your pattern, and have had someone test it out for you, you do not need to worry. There might be someone who has something critical to say about your pattern, but don't let that stop you from writing and sharing!
Kathleen and I hope that you're feeling your pattern writing super hero vibes now! We'd love to see the latest greatest patterns of yours, so feel free to tag #ourmakerlife on our Instagram for a chance to have your pattern featured!
Have a great TT idea? In dire need of tips for your maker life? We would love to hear your thoughts and questions for all things Tip Tuesday, so send us an email and stay tuned for more weekly maker tips each and every Tuesday!
Alison & Kathleen, OML Dream Team
Alison is the knitter behind @la.reserve.design. She has always loved making things with her own two hands and the idea of turning strands of yarn into warm, wearable garments gets her itching to pick up her needles. With a background in textile design, she currently works as a design assistant for a menswear company in Montreal, Canada. Her favorite thing to knit is warm chunky blankets made of cozy, thick wool.
Kathleen is the face behind @Country.Pine.Designs crochet and knitwear. Kathleen has been in love with fiber arts since she was young, and has recently turned her passion into what is now Country Pine Designs. Knitting is a way for Kathleen to express herself creatively, and bless others in the process. She recently moved to a cattle ranch in Texas, and spends her days taking care of beloved cattle and knitting to her heart’s content!