Patterns have been passed from generation to the next in various ways: from treasured swatches of various stitches passed through early generations of knitters/crocheters to, in the late 19th century, narratives using inconsistent terminology. My grandmother and mother (born in early and still-early-but-not-as-early 20th century Norway), used – if at all – abbreviated patterns that relied on columns. Blogger Connie Krug shared a beautifully reductionist German pattern, and, recently, knit designer Linda Marveng directed me to the Techknitter’s “chart-chart” style. (Definitely check out the chart-chart!)
What a knitter/crocheter prefers is a matter of personal preference, experience and best learning style. For me, I like the reductionist German way and the old Norwegian column and table form. I won’t use a pattern at doesn’t have a schematic – unless the pattern is so amazing I am willing to go through the trouble of rewriting the instructions and drawing a schematic. Other people won’t knit or crochet unless they have the narrative form (line-by-line instruction), don’t like charts, and do not care if there’s no schematic. And there is a group of / who are fine with reading the often verbose and wandering instructions on free- to low-cost patterns popping up on websites.
What construction format a designer uses, however, is important. A designer’s goal is to sell her/his designs to other knitters/crocheters. So writing a design in only her/his favorite format (and perhaps the only format she/he is comfortable using) is not good business sense. S/he needs to know her/his customers and potential/future customers and meet their (learning) needs.
That said …
- Designers who work with a publisher often have no choice but to write out the pattern in a manner required by the editor.
- Not all designers are skilled in multiple ways of pattern construction or may be more confident in a certain format over another. If a designer wants to branch out to other pattern construction styles, she should be sure to have knitters/crocheters experienced in those styles read and test her patterns.
- A designer who sells her designs independently, only through sites such as Ravelry, etc., should think about offering it in more than one format. By doing so, she increases the number of potential purchasers. The customers need not purchase one mammoth (many-paged) pattern; a pattern can be made available for purchase in, for instance, one of two formats: Narrative or chart. (Both should contain a schematic.)
Happy knitting, crocheting and pattern writing!