resources for pattern writing and modification

I always have my nose in a range of books – each author chooses to arrange words in their own order which often lead the reader to new insights. I read widely to provide a range of material that allows me to draw connections that help others. Today I review five books that can help you bring new skills to your knitting, crochet, and pattern writing.

Sweater Knitting

Amy Herzog is known for her Custom Knit sweater design series. She has three books that tie into the system, Knit to Flatter, Knit Wear Love, and You Can Knit That.
img showing Amy Herzog book cover titles: Knit to Flatter, Knit Wear Love, and You Can Knit That
While I’m of the belief that you should wear clothing that you find comfortable and fitting and not care too much about others’ opinions, there are certain styles that work better on some body shapes over others. Some clothing styles that I love to look at (or knit) are not flattering for me to wear. In her three books, Herzog provides you with the tools to understand body shape and how that relates to knit sweater style.

Do you need all three books? No! Each offers a slightly different viewpoint and while all three could be very useful as part of your sweater knitting tool kit, begin with the one that fits your current needs best.

Brief Overview of the books:

Knit to Flatter introduces the system for analyzing body shape, taking measurements, and applying all of that information to basic sweater patterns. There are tips for choosing which size to knit and advice on modifying. This title goes the deepest into analysis of shape and measurement. If you are unsure where to start and know that you want accurate measurements sooner than later, start here.

Knit Wear Love expands on the first book to provide a mix and match system: eight sweater construction types, eight fashion styles, modification advice, twelve sizes, and three yarn gauges. Chances are you have a style of clothing you love, perhaps it’s sporty or maybe modern; in this title, Herzog explains what those mean and how to apply them to knit sweaters. There are exercises to help you figure out your style if you aren’t sure. After a quick refresher of body shape, taking measurements, and all the parts to a sweater you are taken through different sweater styles to knit the right sweater for your body and yarn choice.

You Can Knit That takes a slightly different approach than the first two books. The sweaters in this title are more forgiving in fit than the tailored patterns Herzog is best known for. If you are intimidated by the thought of knitting a sweater to fit you exactly, this title will help you gain confidence. How? The introductory chapters provide small exercises in key techniques before introducing you to the 24 sweater patterns of all shapes and sizes.

How will I use these books?

When tutoring knitters through a sweater pattern they want to knit these books provide me with resources to help them gain confidence and improve fit. In addition, several years ago, my in-laws gifted me yarn in a weight I don’t often knit and I’ve struggled for years to design the sweater that it wants to be. It was overwhelming. I now have the sketches of that design and confidence that it’s the right design for me with my long torso and short legs.

Crochet Design

book cover for Design your Own Crochet Projects Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves
by Sara Delaney
I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

I’m sure this sounds familiar to many crocheters: after learning how to crochet you curl up with a hook and yarn and the result is a design of your own with no pattern reading necessary.

In Design your Own Crochet Projects, Delaney provides the tools to make your projects less surprising experiments and more well-researched and repeatable designs. While some may feel the accessories are too simple, they provide the reader with the skills to be able to evaluate yarn fibers, weights, stitch patterns, and how they all relate to what’s needed for a successful and repeatable project. The included photographs are clear and informative, adding to the written text. Where this book shines is the clear formulae to estimate yarn requirements and the templates to beat the blank page syndrome preventing a pattern from being written down. I think this title is helpful for anyone looking to be able to recreate what they crochet, either to make again or to write up for others.

How will I use this book?

It’s often helpful to step back and work on simpler designs when working on something more complex. This will help me step back and fine tune my crochet pattern writing skills. It is different from knitting and while I’ve crocheted for a very long time, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to write everything up in a way that makes sense to others. Remember: editing is not the same as writing!

Pattern Writing

Now that you are in possession of all these newly polished skills in modifying patterns and working up simple patterns of your own, what is the next step? One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is what book I recommend for new designers, whether they knit or crochet. My current answer is the same for both crafts: Kate Atherley’s book.

book cover for The Beginner's Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns: Learn to Write Patterns Others Can Knit by Kate AtherleyThe Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns: Learn to Write Patterns Others Can Knit
by Kate Atherley

I purchased a copy of this title when it was first self published, it’s now available through Interweave Press. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Why? Not all types of writing are the same or use the same type of skills. I know this firsthand, it took me a years to master the skills necessary for writing computer technology tutorials. That skill is very different than the one I use when writing knit and crochet patterns. The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns is useful to help me, my technical editing clients, and anyone interested in understanding the pieces necessary for a well written pattern.

Why do well written patterns matter?What’s included (or not)?

First, please remember it’s a beginner’s guide and isn’t exhaustive covering everything under the sun; Atherley provides an extensive resource list and bibliography in the appendix for topics ranging from sample style sheets, submission guidelines, to grading. It also doesn’t explain how to design. It does include the key parts of pattern structure, how language can be tricky, charts, grading, basics to formatting, the process of design, how to sell online, and an introduction to copyright. In short, it provides you with all the information that is necessary to create a well written pattern.

Is there anything for crochet designers?

Right now, this is the most complete resource that I’m aware of for those who wish to improve their pattern writing. Yes, it is knit-centric, and crochet is not the same as knitting, however many of the key topics that Atherley touches on are useful for crocheters. Kim Werker has a series on crochet pattern writing that pairs well with this title.

How do I use this book?

My digital copy is quite dogeared and one day I’ll add a real copy to my bookshelf. I use it both when I’m writing my own patterns and when I edit clients.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *