Recently I received the newsletter of a knitting organization that focuses on knitting and crochet patterns (some rather pricey – up to US $12). I skimmed the patterns but only two caught my attention. I gave them a closer look. The first pattern was for a cardigan, and the second was for socks. Both of these had, from a pattern writing perspective, severe limitations. In this post I revisit the importance of providing schematics.
A schematic is a structural drawing, as illustrated on the right. Unlike a drawing that provides readers a descriptive illustration of your project, a schematic is detailed and contains key measurements (e.g., lengths, widths, sizes, etc.).
Why provide a schematic?
- A schematic serves a good road map so knitters/crocheters can self-check and self-correct their progress.
- The visual learners can easily “see” where the pattern is going and how.
- Schematics are critical for knitters/crocheters who want to ensure good fit.
- Schematics are critical for knitters/crocheters who may want to alter the pattern.
I cannot overemphasize #3 and #4. For instance, if the pattern shapes the body of a sweater (e.g., it narrows at the waist), a discerning knitter/crocheter needs the distance between the hem and/or the shoulder and the waist. Why? Because a very tall or a very short person (unless the height is disproportionately from leg length), will need to adjust the waist placement. There are many other reasons a knitter/crocheter might need to adjust a pattern from its called for measurements: a wider waist? narrower waist? larger bust? larger hips? smaller hips? longer arms? smaller shoulders? et cetera.
Of course, a skilled knitter/crocheter could pull out a calculator and, working from the written instructions, do the calculation herself – but why would she? Why take the time to go through that sort of design technicalities for someone else’s pattern – someone who charged you for the pattern?
An alternative is to simply knit or crochet as the pattern instructs and, from time to time take fittings, and then rip out rows and re-knit/crochet multiple times in multiple places throughout the design until the pattern fits. Not too many folks would enjoy doing that.
My daughter knit a pattern that I would not have chosen for her (or anyone, for that matter). First, it is poorly written; it is in a long, rambling narrative style that jumps around. (Ugh!) My daughter found the pattern quite frustrating. If I hadn’t 50 years of knitting experience I’m not sure I could have made sense of the instructions. I translated the pattern into what I call my Neo-Norsk method (click here and here to read my posts where I explain that style), which my daughter finds much easier to follow.
Second, the pattern she chose included no schematic (or drawing) though there were several (far too many!) photographs of the author modeling the sweater. (For some reason known only to the woman, her son/daughter are in some of the photographs.) My daughter frequently had to rip out whole sections and reknit. Why? She doesn’t fall into the “average” woman category. My daughter is tall with long arms and legs and a low waist. Further, though a marathon runner and quite slim, she has disproportionately wide shoulders due to many years of competitive swimming in her youth. Ahhh, yes, alterations galore.
I never buy a sweater pattern that does not include a schematic. I like my sweaters to fit well.