The Truth About Pattern Writing

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I’m feeling a little burnt out this weekend! Writing knitting patterns for multiple sizes is exhausting! The math alone just makes my head spin after a couple of hours!

Writing knitting patterns in America is not easy! In Japan, you are given a schematic, stitch pattern, gauge, and simple shaping instructions  – and that’s it! Japanese patterns don’t have any written instructions and the knitter is expected to size their own garment and make their own decisions about what kind of shaping, cast on, bind off, and seaming to do! I have to say that the Japanese are onto something!

The majority of knitting patterns are written for women. But here’s the problem – no two women have the same shape! So, how can one pattern (even if written in 5 different sizes!) work for all women? It doesn’t…but we still try to make that work based on “average” measurements. Average?! There is nothing average about sizing for women.

I’ll admit that I get annoyed when I go clothes shopping with my husband. He finds jeans that he likes the color of, looks for his waist and length measurements, and then we are in line to Susie-Styles_Brighton_Personal_Shopper_Style_Expert_How_To_Look_and_Feel_Good_In_Jeans_Jeans_Cut_Stylecheck out. He doesn’t even try the damn things on!!! He doesn’t have to worry about a tiny waist and larger hips, or larger hips, but thinner thighs, or the length being just right (depending on what type of shoe you are going wear, of course. If you are planning to wear the jeans with heels – that length is different than if you are wearing them with sandals or Vans slip ons). He doesn’t need to worry about boot cut or skinny jean or boyfriend bagginess. It’s just not fair!

So when it comes to designing a fitted vest or skirt for the “average” woman – I’m left staring at the screen and hearing the voices of frustrated knitters because their size isn’t represented. I promise that us knitwear designers do our best to write patterns that will work for everyone, but the truth is that it just isn’t possible.

So my advice is this – please don’t expect knit patterns to fit you unless you are willing to put in the work to be sure to have accurate gauge and accurate measurements of your body. Don’t blindly follow a pattern and don’t be afraid to get down and dirty with some math! I promise – it will make you a much better knitter in the end!