As my long-time readers are aware, I put a lot of work into my pattern writing. This has been amplified since I started my independent pattern line “M2H Designs”.
My goal when writing a pattern is to create a document that will be clear to follow. Many of my patterns are fairly easy by design and when I use more complex crochet techniques I try to have explanations or links to tutorials for the crocheter to use.
Some of my designs are published in magazines or at yarn company websites. In those cases I have less control over how the pattern is edited and presented. Even so, with attentive reading of the pattern most crocheters can figure out the pattern. Since I started my designing work by writing patterns for magazines I tend to follow a similar format in my indie line.
One thing to remember, all the information in the pattern is important. Sometimes you might want to skip right to the instructions to get started, but that can make completing the project much more difficult than it needs to be. The information at the beginning of the pattern isn’t there just to take up space. Reading thru it can make a big difference.
This is an estimate for the average crocheters skill. Keep in mind what your crochet experience is. You may have been crocheting for 30 years, but if it is the first time you’ve tackled a garment or item with shaping you might find you need to take it a bit more slowly and you might find aspects of the pattern confusing.
This is handy information especially if you are making a wearable item. The finished size should be the actual size of the garment, not necessarily the size you have made, ie….your bust size is 34 inches, but the finished size bust is 40 inches for the size recommended for your bust measurement. That is because the designer has created a garment that will have 6 inches of positive ease. Knowing the finished size can help you make decisions about the fit and help you estimate how the item will fit the body it is intended for.
In the case of blankets or afghans this size information can also help you decide if the finished project will be as large or small as you want. For example, if you want to make a baby blanket from a larger blanket pattern, you know that you will have to change the length of your starting foundation. Or the reverse, you want to make a larger blanket from a baby blanket pattern. You will need to purchase more yarn at the start of your project to be sure you have enough.
This is where the Yarn, hook and other tools needed for the project can be found. Under Yarn you will see information on the brand and name of the yarn used, the yardage needed, and the fiber content of the yarn. You will also be given the size of the hook that was used, though you may want to use a different size once you check your gauge.
Also listed in this section will be things like buttons, beads or zippers. It is a good idea to gather all these materials ahead of time.
Ah gauge, everyone’s favorite part of yarn crafting. Not really. But it is important if you want your finished project to come out the right size. Being off in your gauge can mean that you will not have the right amount of yarn or that the finished fabric will not drape properly.
Gauge is especially important when you are making a fitted garment like a sweater or skirt. It’s a little less important for items like blankets or wraps, but being off in gauge for those items can still run you into difficulties like yardage or the quality of your finished fabric.
This is one of the sections most over-looked in a pattern. Lots of times folks assume they know what a listed stitch is, but there isn’t really a standardization of stitches in crochet. Checking this section over gives you a clear definition (and the abbreviation) so you can be certain what the designer means when they use a term like “V-st” in the pattern instructions.
A V-stitch could be 2 double crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches, could even be 2 single crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches. Reading the special stitches section beforehand and referring to it while working the pattern will keep you on track.
This section is a great place to understand the pattern better before beginning. This could be an overview of how the garment is constructed, ie…Cardigan is worked in 2 sections off top and bottom of a center back foundation row, then joined at under-arm and sleeves worked outward. Remaining fabric is worked around the body opening to create the rest of the cardigan.
After reading thru all the previous information and preparing for the start of your project you can now concentrate on working the instructions and completing your project. It’s a good idea to read thru the instructions once before you start crocheting. They may not make complete sense to you, but if you do one read-thru before starting you may find them easier to follow when you start crocheting.
If the pattern is in a book or magazine you own it can help to highlight areas that you think will be tricky for you. If you are making a garment from a pattern that has instructions for more than 1 size, it is a good idea to highlight the instructions for the size you are making.
If the pattern is in a publication you can’t mark up purchase some “highlight” removable tape. I found mine at my local yarn shop and it is very handy. You may be able to find it at your local office supply store or college bookstore.
Hope this all helps you the next time you are tackling a new pattern.
2 thoughts on “Before the Instructions Begin”
Thank you! This is wonderful help. Will share with friends.
Wish we had some of your cool mountain air here in NYS. We are scorched with a drought in the Syracuse area. A time for warm weather yarn projects, that’s for sure!
Gina (Amy’s sister!)