I want to introduce you to writing instructions from sewing patterns or an existing garment. My example will give you the basics of pattern writing so you can start making the project you have in mind. I will assume that you have the skills to calculate stitch numbers and row counts from your gauge.
Knitted garments rarely are shaped by darts or other tailoring techniques used in sewing. When choosing your first pattern or existing garment to make your instructions from, keep it simple in construction. An existing garment that fits you well, such as a favorite T-shirt would be a good choice. Tailored knitting is for more advanced knitters and requires knowledge of pattern design and cutting.
For my demonstration, I’m using the back pattern piece for a simple V-neck tank with a slightly shaped waist. The following are the steps to writing pattern instructions.
Measure the pattern pieces; remember that knitted pieces have very little seam allowance. When measuring sewing pattern pieces don’t include seam allowances in your measurements. Lay the pattern piece on blocking board or other non-slippery surface. (Note: Decide whether you are working in inches or centimeters, then stick to that throughout the process).
Key measurements of my back piece:
Bottom edge – 16 1/2 in
Length to armhole – 13 in
Waist (narrowest point of shaping) – 14 3/4 in
Length to waist – 6 3/4 in
Bust before armhole shaping – 15 1/4 in
Armhole depth – 8 in
V-neck depth – 8 in
Neck width – 9 1/4 in
Shoulders – 1 1/2 in
Sketch outline of piece or schematic with measurements on graph paper; I used 8 squares per inch paper. Standard graph paper is useful for drawing the outline. Knitters’ graph paper has different grids that represent different gauges, and is useful when designing color patterns, allowing you to design directly on the paper without distortion.
Determine your gauge. Assuming that you have decided on the yarn and made a swatch, measure the gauge, writing down the stitches and rows per inch on the sketch.
Convert measurements into stitches and rows. The horizontal measurements (width) convert to stitches and the vertical measurements (length or depth) convert to rows. I write these numbers on the graph paper. I also calculate the shaping, that is how many stitches to bind off and number of decreases, and what rows to make them. (From my example the width of the bottom edge converted to stitches: 16.5 x 4.5(stitches/in) = 74.25 rounded to 74 stitches. Cast on 74 stitches).
After I have knitted the piece, and recorded any changes or adjustments on the outline, I write the instructions in a format that is readable for other knitters.This step may not be important to you, but for designers, knitters must be able to follow their instructions and produce an exact copy of the project. Pattern instruction format varies from designer to designer.
With this information you should be able to start writing basic pattern instructions from pattern pieces or an existing garment such as a jersey knit with simple construction.