The other day I got an email from a friend with Knitting Trouble. Judy is a fairly new knitter, but she’s got moxie. Judy recently acquired a fluffy rescue dog, Clyde, and naturally wanted to knit him a coat. On Ravelry, Judy found a cute dog coat and downloaded the free pattern. Judy said she was having trouble understanding the pattern instructions.
No problem, I said—I know my way around a dog coat. Help is on the way.
It damn near killed us both. No schematic, no indication of what end of the dog coat was being cast on, complete mystery regarding stitch marker placement.
None of this was the end of the world. But it was aggravating to have straightforward directions rendered obscure by poor pattern writing. We’ve all puzzled our way through crap instructions at one time or another. It’s like navigating using a map that has major landmarks and crossroads omitted or misplaced.
Send Up the Bat Signal
You know what that dog coat needed? It needed Kate Atherley. A designer, teacher and author, longtime Managing Technical Editor for Knitty.com, and overall whip-smart person, Kate knows about knitting patterns from the perspective of designers—both first-timers and experienced professionals—and knitters of every level. She knows what knitters find confusing, and how to replace that confusion with sweet clarity.
Kate’s new book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, is a godsend. I wish I could go back in time to 2004, when Ann and I were writing our first book, and hand myself a copy. So many questions answered. So many best practices revealed. Everything makes sense. Everything has a reason. There is an abundance of tips and resources, everything from size standards to what software to use to create a schematic. This book is now living on my bookshelf right next to my Barbara Walkers, in case I ever again need to “write patterns others can knit.”