If you are an experienced knitter, creating a new knitting pattern is a great way to put your creativity to good use. Whether you are making sweaters, socks, scarves, or hats, writing down your pattern is a good way to come back to it when you want to make similar designs for your loved ones.
Many experienced knitters also sell their knitting patterns since this is a good way to increase your passive income. You can write your pattern and sell it as a digital download file on Ravelry or Etsy.
How do you write a knitting pattern? To write a knitting pattern, you should start by planning out your project, working out the details, and knitting a swatch. Include the needles and yarn sizes, gauge and measurements, and the pattern itself, row by row. Test your pattern yourself before you share or publish it.
Writing a knitting pattern takes a lot of trial and error, which requires hard work and patience. However, once you have invested in perfecting your pattern, you will find that it is a rewarding hobby that can become a sustainable source of income as well.
Let’s get started!
How to Design Your Own Knitting Pattern
So you want to design your own knitting pattern. There are a few things you will need to consider before putting pen to paper.
Here we will walk you through everything you will need to think about before designing your own knitting pattern.
What Are You Planning to Make?
Are you making a blanket, hat, sweater, scarf, or a pair of socks? What is the purpose of the item? Is it for an adult or a baby? You can’t write a pattern before you know what you’re making!
Deciding the item you want to make and its purpose will help you through the subsequent steps in this process – from yarn selection, to size, to design.
Sketch Out Your Design
Once you have settled on what to make – for example, a sweater for a toddler – the next step is making a rough sketch of what you want it to look like. This doesn’t need to look gorgeous; it’s just to help you work out a design.
Will it be form-fitting or oversized? How do you want the details to look – will there be lace edging, a wide cable up the middle, ribbed cuff, etc?
If you are undecided about the details, it may be helpful to browse some knitwear designs and patterns on websites like Pinterest, Ravelry, or even some fashion retailers’ websites.
Without just copying, you can find and incorporate different elements that you like into your design, like certain stitches, shapes, and silhouette. This also helps you understand things like whether a particular stitch will pop in your desired yarn.
While you are at this stage, it can also be helpful to think about the measurements of your project.
For example, if you are making a sweater, you can use a tape measurer on yourself to see how long your sweater will be, how long the sleeves will be, or how form-fitting or oversized it will be. These measurements will help you decide how many stitches you will need to knit in each part of your sweater.
Select a Yarn For Your Project
The purpose of your garment will decide the right material for your project. If you are making clothing or blankets for babies and young children, for example, you should go for a cotton yarn that would feel soft against a child’s sensitive skin.
On the other hand, if you are making a cozy sweater or blanket, using cozy and warm materials like wool would add warmth to the final product.
The type of yarn that you choose would also help you have a general idea about the needle size that you should use. You can always go for larger needles for looser stitches or smaller needles for tighter stitches.
Keep in mind that every type of yarn has a different texture, softness, and level of shrinkage. When you pick a yarn, you should also think about whether those characteristics would add to the final look and feel of your product.
Knit a Swatch
Knitting a swatch with your chosen yarn is a great way to anticipate the size of your final project and how your yarn will behave. If you have a general idea of how big your garment will be, knitting a swatch first will help you figure out how many stitches to have at each step of the way.
If you are creating a pattern with diamonds, ribs, and cables, you should knit a swatch with some of your patterned design to understand how your yarn will look with those patterns and how many stitches you will need to get a certain size when knitting in those patterns.
Do not forget to wash and block your swatch. Some yarn will shrink in the wash, so blocking your swatch will help you anticipate how big the final product will look. If your yarn shrinks, you can adjust your pattern and the number of stitches to account for the shrinkage.
What to Include in a Knitting Pattern
If you are an experienced knitter, you are probably already familiar with all of the sections of a standard knitting pattern. There are a few sections that a knitting pattern would have, and we will walk you through each of them below:
About the Pattern
“About the pattern” is a short introduction to the pattern.
Some pattern makers love to share what inspired them to create the pattern; others are more straightforward with general ideas about the pattern as well as a photo of the final result.
Whatever you decide to include in this section should give your audience a broad idea about what the final project will look like and how they can achieve that. This section should also tell the audience the difficulty level of the pattern – whether it is for beginners, intermediate, or advanced knitters.
This can be a separate section, part of the introduction, or part of the main pattern instructions, but at some point before you explain row 1, you will need to include important information necessary for someone to work your pattern:
What type of needles (straight, double pointed, circular needles, etc.) and what size would someone need to work with this pattern?
If you are employing several types of needles in several sizes, you can go into the specific details of where in your pattern you would need which type of needle.
For example, you could write:
16” circular needles size 4mm is needed to shape the neck of the sweater. 16” and 32” circular needles size 5mm are needed to shape the yoke, body, and sleeves of the sweater.
What type of yarn are you using for your project?
As mentioned above, each project requires a different type of yarn with different characteristics. You should mention the specific material, brand, and yarn weight so that people can find a good match for the exact type of yarn that you are using.
This information is important because the yarn material and weight can affect the gauge and subsequently the final size of the finished product. Writing down detailed instructions will help your readers achieve the intended look for their project.
Gauge tells you how many stitches and rows you need to knit, using your specific yarn and needle size, to achieve a certain size.
For example, you can say: 25 stitches by 22 rows on 4mm knitting needles will produce a 10” by 10” square.
Keep in mind that because some yarn will shrink in the wash, your measurements for the gauge should be the final measurements after washing and blocking your swatch. Achieving the right gauge will help your readers get the correct measurements for their final garment.
Sizes and Measurements
This section should tell you the measurements of the final project. If you have various sizes, you should also include the measurements for each size.
For example: This sweater comes in size S (M, L, XL) with bust measurements of 38” (42”, 46”, 59”) and length of 20” (22”, 24”, 26”).
In this section, you can tell your readers about all the stitches that they will need to know to knit your pattern, as well as stitch abbreviations that can help your readers understand your pattern.
For example, your abbreviations may look like this:
St(s) = stitches
K = knit
P = purl
If your pattern employs some complicated stitches, it can be helpful to write some brief instructions to help your readers familiarize themselves with the stitches before they start.
This section is the longest and most detailed part of your entire pattern. This section is where your readers will start knitting the project following your instructions from start to finish, row by row.
If your garment is broken down into several components (for example, a sweater with a yoke, body, and sleeves), you will want to break down the instructions section into several smaller components (e.g. “body,” “neckline,” “sleeves”) so that your pattern is easy to follow.
For each section, make sure to write your instructions row-by-row. Breaking down what to do for each row will make your pattern easy to read and allow your readers to spot and fix any mistakes they make right away.
Tip: If you aren’t sure how to draft your instructions ahead of time, you can always work up your design first, writing down what you do every step of the way – including anything you go back and change.
In some patterns that employ complicated stitches or techniques, it is helpful to include chart(s) of the stitches. If you have a lace pattern, or complicated cables and diamonds, creating a chart will make your pattern simpler and more beginner-friendly.
Also some people work better from charts and others work better from text, so including both whenever you can is extra helpful.
You can create a chart for your pattern with graph paper or free online websites like Stitch Mastery. Don’t forget to include the key (how to read your chart) at the bottom or to the side of the chart!
Finishing instructions can include how to weave in the loose ends, sewing and darning tips for beginners, how to wash and block the garment to achieve the correct size, etc.
Test Your Pattern
Once you have finished writing your pattern, you should follow the pattern yourself and knit the garment from start to finish to make sure that your instructions are correct and that it is easy to follow.
If you spot any problems while you knit, you can make notes and change the pattern accordingly. If you can send this pattern to a friend who knits and have them try it, too, that is also a good idea.
Once your pattern is ready, you can start sharing it with the knitting community! Ravelry is an especially popular platform for sharing your knitting (and crocheting and sewing) patterns, but you can always share your work on social media, personal blogs, and elsewhere.
Make a little side cash by charging a few dollars for your work or give away the love. Either way, it’s a joy to create and share with others.