Day 10: Do you have a favorite pattern or designer?
In short, no…not just one! There are tons of awesome designers out there, and patterns for just about anything you could think of. There are, however, a handful of qualities I look for in a designer. I am selective about patterns that I purchase. I am willing to pay a decent price for a good pattern, and am in favor of supporting independent designers, but I expect a lot in return.
First, I appreciate when a pattern is well written. It should be clear and informative while still being concise. All abbreviations used should be described thoroughly in the legend. For example, one of my pet peeves is when ssk is explained simply as “slip, slip, knit”. Someone who had never worked that stitch before, which was everyone at some point, would not know from that description that you must slip each stitch separately, knit-wise, and then knit the two slipped stitches together through the back loops. I think care should be taken to use standard or common abbreviations when possible, as that both alleviates confusion and makes it easier for the knitter to look up any unfamiliar techniques.
Second, I think almost all patterns benefit from a good schematic. I remember looking at sewing patterns with my mom when I was a kid. I was always swayed by the drawings on the front, but my mom taught me to look at the back flap where there were clear diagrams of each variation the pattern contained. You could determine from those schematics if a pattern had gathers or pleats, darts or tucks, etc. Knitting patterns that include schematics are much clearer and easier to understand. I especially appreciate when a schematic includes the direction of the knitting, which is particularly helpful with shawls or other pieces knitted on the bias.
Third, the best patterns are thoroughly tested and tech edited. If I come to a stumbling block, I want to know that I can trust the pattern to have the right numbers and directions. Otherwise, I might second guess myself unnecessarily. Figuring out a complicated pattern can be quite a puzzle, and it’s disappointing if I ultimately determine there’s an error in the pattern.
When knitting, I like to challenge myself to try new things, figure out new techniques, and explore what’s out there. I do not think that challenge should extend to interpreting the pattern itself. The best patterns, those that meet all three criteria above, can help make tricky techniques fly off the needles without all the stress and confusion. A pattern like that, to me, is worth paying a fair price for.
Another quality I like in a pattern is versatility. Not all pieces lend themselves well to this, but many do. I appreciate when a designer has planned out different options or features and provided directions for them. That increases a pattern’s value significantly as it could be used to make things more customized. There are several designers (Tin Can Knits does this consistently) who size their patterns from newborn up through larger adult sizes, which I think is extremely useful. If I’m considering purchasing a pattern, I would be more likely to choose one that provided lots of options.
Finally, there is one practice that I find incredibly off-putting, and that is when designers attempt to place restrictions on what the knitter can do with any finished objects made from their pattern. I have seen multiple patterns that state that you may not sell items made from them, or that you must purchase a “cottage license” in order to have that right. Some say that you may use the pattern only to make items for your own personal use, or to donate to charity. The legal reality is that US copyright laws do not support this, and it only persists because people don’t tend to think designers would make that claim if it weren’t legit. In the US, copyright only covers the actual pattern*, not objects made from it. There’s a ton of discussion about this topic on ravelry so, if you want to delve into it further, there are many descriptions there that are far more detailed and informed than mine (such as some of the posts here). Suffice it to say it irks me when a designer adds such clauses, as it seems they are attempting to take advantage of people’s trusting nature.
So, that’s what I look for in a good pattern! How about you? Do you have a favorite pattern or designer?
A note about Thursday Sock-Along: You might have noticed yesterday was Thursday. You also might have noticed that I failed to notice yesterday was Thursday. Usually, I would have put up a sock post. However, since I haven’t been able to do any sock knitting this week, you’re not missing much! If you’d like to get your sock fix somewhere else, check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters. Paula blogs at Spin a Yarn and Hannah blogs at unsophisticated + jejune.
The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.
*And even that is debatable.