The pattern introduction by Kate Atherley
Calling all designers! However good your pattern looks in photographs, if it doesn’t read well, knitters won’t buy it! Learn how to write a pattern introduction with Kate Atherley…
Whenever I teach a pattern writing class, I always end my (admittedly pretty opinionated and demanding) presentation with the same request: if you ignore me on absolutely everything else, you’ll still be improving your patterns 1000% if you create a good introduction.
A good pattern introduction is how you tell the world about your pattern. It is, dare I use that word, how you sell your pattern. It’s there to tell knitters why your pattern is so wonderful and why they should want to knit it.
(And yes, you still need to “sell” the pattern even if it’s free. Even more so, actually. There are lots and lots and lots and lots of free patterns out there for whatever your thing is. Trust me. Why should someone choose your pattern for a (k3, p1) ribbed sock, versus another designers?)
But it’s not just marketing fluff: the pattern introduction is helpful to both the knitter and the designer, to help ensure a happy outcome for everyone.
I look for three things in a pattern introduction: I want to know what the designer has to say about the project, the pattern, and the knitter.
These are the details that go on the pattern “sell” page in online shops. And if you’re selling printed patterns, this stuff all goes on the first page. Either way, this information should be enough to help the knitter decide if it’s the right pattern for their particular needs.
Tell me about the project – give me a sense of what to expect from the FO: What is it, how is it constructed? It’s a top down sock. It’s a hat worked sideways. It’s a one-piece seamless circular yoke sweater.
How is it worked? In the round or flat? Seamed or seamless?
Who is it for? Sized for adults? The entire family? Children? For example, I see hat patterns all the time that that offer S, M and L sizes. But is that baby, child, adult, or three adult sizes? Even the dreaded “average” can be an adult average or a child’s average. Make it clear!
How many sizes do you offer? What are those sizes?
How does it fit? How is it supposed to be worn? Even if you’re selling it in an online shop where the sizes will be listed, you still need to tell us who those sizes will fit. It’s not enough to state that a hat is 45cm around, for example: is that supposed to be an adult hat worn with negative ease, or a child’s hat that fits with zero ease? A sweater with a 95cm chest measurement might be an extra-small man’s size, a woman’s size, or a child’s size.
For example: “In a wide range of sizes for adults, this pullover is designed to be worn with approximately 5cm of positive ease.” Or: “Sized for premature and newborn babies, this hat pattern offers sizes to fit babies with heads 30 to 40cm in circumference.”
But not just this dry detail: you should also explain why this project is different. If there are details that aren’t obvious in the photographs, tell me about them: “This hat is worked top down, which allows you to easily adjust the length.” “Although these mittens look plain, they are cleverly lined with an extra warm yarn for withstanding the worst winter winds.” If there’s something really interesting about the project, tell me about it! Get me excited! “These socks use a special reinforcing technique on the heel and toe, which makes them ideal for wearing in boots.” You designed the pattern, so you know that already, but everyone else needs to be told.
Tell me about the pattern – give me a sense of what to expect when I’m working on the project:
Are the pattern stitches charted? In written form? Both?
Do you provide suggestions and guidance for alterations? “Includes notes on how to add bust darts.”
Are there variations that aren’t shown in the photographs? “Includes a variation for working the mitten in a fingerless style.”
Are there any tutorials? Is it a good way to learn a new skill? “An ideal project for learning to knit cables, this pattern includes a detailed photo tutorial.”
Tell me about the knitter – give me a sense of what you expect from me:
What skill level is this aimed at? What techniques and knowledge do you expect? “Suitable for knitters with experience working two-sided lace and reading charts.” “Suitable for knitters of all levels – pattern uses only knit, purl, cast on and bind off.” “Although the pattern does use the technique, experience with short rows is not required.”
The value of a good introduction
Remember, knitters knit for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s about the project: I need a cardigan I can wear over summer dresses on cool evenings. Sometimes it’s about the process: I’m looking for something engaging to entertain me on a long train journey, or something simple I can work on at the pub. And sometimes it’s about the pattern: I want to learn entrelac and am looking for a pattern that can teach me.
The introduction is all about helping knitters find the right pattern, no matter which specific need they might be looking to meet. And it’s about helping patterns find the right knitters, too. After all, it’s in everyone’s interest that the knitter be successful with the pattern, and happy with the finished result. A happy and successful knitter is less likely to be a pattern support burden. A happy and successful knitter is more likely to buy/knit more of your designs. A happy and successful knitter is likely to talk about the project, show it off, and mention your name to other knitters.
And that’s how you make more sales!
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Last updated: February 7th, 2017.