The Complete Guide to Creating Knitting Patterns

Are you a knitter interested in creating knitting patterns but don’t have a clue where to start? Make yourself comfortable: let’s get you started on my tutorial series on how to create knitting patterns.

This article series covers all you need to create knitting patterns on your own in 16 parts: from inspiration via yarn and pattern category selection to formatting issues, usability, testing your pattern, taking good pictures, pattern templates and finally how to publish your knitting pattern.

How To Create Knitting Patterns: Schedule

  • Day 1: Know Your Limits & Tools (And How To Beat These Limits) – this article
  • Day 2: All About Inspiration: Where Do Your Ideas Come From?
  • Day 3: Yarn Selection & Pattern Category (With Exercise)
  • Day 4: Design Elements: Lace, Cables, … Or Plain Stockinette?
  • Day 5: Knitting Swatches
  • Day 6: Obey Math! (How To Overcome To Most Prominent Phobia: Calculations)
  • Day 7: Your First Pattern Draft
  • Day 8: Sample Knitting
  • Day 9: Test Knitting (Or Why You Should Not Test Your Own Patterns)
  • Day 10: Fine Tuning: Revise & Refine Your Pattern Draft
  • Day 11: It Looks So Pretty: The Importance Of Pattern Photography
  • Day 12: Knitting Pattern Templates (Including Examples & Downloads)
  • Day 13: Quality Control: What Makes a Pattern A Good Pattern?
  • Day 14: The Knitting Pattern Checklist
  • Day 15: Publishing Your Pattern
  • Day 16: What Now? (Final Remarks, Conclusions and Further Reading)

16 Days Of How To Create A Knitting Pattern, Day 1: Know Your Limits (And How To Beat Them), Including The Tools Of The Trade

Are you a fairly experienced knitter? If yes, let’s start! Just directly proceed to step number two.

You haven’t mastered anything beyond knitting garter stitch scarves so far? Sorry to disappoint you, but maybe you should consider getting a little more practice before creating your own patterns. (I’m not known for diplomacy. I’m known for speaking the truth even if it hurts, so don’t take it personally. I’m just honest.)

They Say Everybody Can Create A Knitting Pattern

Yes, everybody capable of basic knitting skills can fire up word and create a knitting pattern PDF. The devil is in the details, because it’s actually quite hard to create good knitting patterns. Sorry to be the bad guy in this game: it takes more than a copy of Word and Excel to write a good knitting pattern.

Ready? Go!

Step One: Improve Your Knitting Skills

If you feel like you could use a little bit more of knitting experience so you can start designing your own: practice lots! Use different yarns, knit as many different garment and accessories as possible, with a range of designers as broad as possible.

Don’t be afraid of purchasing patterns. There are a ton of good knitting patterns available for free on the internet, true. But don’t make the mistake and limit yourself to them – try out a few designers and publications known for creating quality knitting patterns (if you got no clue where to start looking for some – personally, I recommend all patterns published by Twist Collective for example. I own quite a few of their patterns and have never been disappointed. And no, I’m not affiliated in any way. Just personal preferences.)

Learn by example. Try out new techniques and look closely on how the pattern is designed, written and formatted. Take attention to phrasing that makes it easy for you to understand directions clearly. What do you like and what not? Try to make yourself educated about the broad spectrum of knitting patterns out there in the wild.

Step Two: Let’s Start

The outline: let’s create a knitting pattern from scratch, then work on our draft until it becomes a knitting pattern which is actually usable. (And – as a nice consequence – sells much better than the average bad ones and will get you better reputation as a knitwear designer in the long term). We not only aspire to create a knitting pattern, we want to create a good, usable, professional knitting pattern.

You have been warned.

Handy Tools: Which One Do You Really Need?

Text Processing

To Word or not to Word? Patterns can indeed be created using Word. I know many designers who do and there’s nothing wrong with that if that is your preferred text editing program. Personally, I do not use Word for my knitting patterns. I used to but got fed up with it constantly crashing my MacBook, despite the lack of design control this text processing software provides. It’s a text editor, after all – no fancy design software!

Another possibility is to use LaTeX. All major maths related publication use LaTeX for their typesetting but it’s got what most people consider to be a slow learning curve. I recommend learning to use it if you write lots of texts with numerous references, no matter whether they are in-text or external – there’s nothing better than that. My doctoral thesis has been written in LaTeX, what else? But a thesis is not a knitting pattern, and LaTeX is not famous for creating beautiful documents without serious effort. (Except they are math related, then you will drool seriously caused by so much beauty).


For my patterns, I now use Adobe InDesign and never want to create a pattern again without it. It’s professional layout software which gets the job done. No crashing, tons of features, full control over the look & feel of the finished pattern and last but not least a ton of options for document publishing formats.

Want to go print? Easy! Kindle? Yes. EPUB? Of course! I like it, as you might have guessed. The downside: people consider it to be expensive and that’s kind of true. Well, it depends what you consider to be expensive: Adobe offers a range of subscription varieties for their product palette and there’s possibilities to get discounts on their plans. Get more info on the website of Adobe.

Vector Graphics (Scalable)

For creating vector graphics, which is a format scalable without loss as opposed to pixel based graphics created by software like Photoshop and Gimp, I use Adobe Illustrator. If you want a free variant of it, go for using Inkscape. Nothing bad about it except that personally, I find Illustrator more comfortable and intuitive.

The Complete Guide to Creating Knitting Patterns: Inkscape Screen

Pixel Graphics (Photo & Image Editing)

I’m using Photoshop since version 3.0, so don’t expect me to tell you how great Gimp is. Sorry. If you do not want to invest money in Photoshop, Gimp can be an alternative. It’s powerful but – same as with Inkscape – I’m so used to Photoshop that I find Gimp confusing sometimes, although I’ve used it for quite a while when I was working on a Linux box with no native support for Photoshop. It did the job – give it a shot, it’s free and open source (as is Inkscape), which is generally a good thing.

Charting Software

For my charts, I’m using Knit Visualizer and like the clean look and feel the charts generated by it provide – they look very professional and the software features good usability besides a few minor issues (like not mirroring the decreases properly). KV got lots of other handy features like automatic creation of written instructions from a chart and custom stitch libraries, too. But not everybody might want to invest $189 in charting software, which I totally understand. (Took a while for me too to make this purchase decision, not to mention sell enough patterns to finance my copy).

There’s other charting software on the market but I never tried any of it, so I cannot make a statement here about those. Sorry!

The Complete Guide to Creating Knitting Patterns: Knit Visualizer Screen
Knit Visualizer Screen

One can create knitting charts with Excel and a knitting font like the one by David Xenakis, too. Theoretically. Practically, if you want your patterns to look professional, do not do this. Use proper charting software of your choice. Using obviously cheap solutions for typesetting makes your patterns look cheap and puts them into the hobby niche. Who wants to pay for something not optically appealing, not to mention readability issues? I do not. You have been warned.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I’m going to cover how to find inspiration. Until then, I’m curious to hear from you: have you ever tried to create your own knitting pattern?




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