3.04.2015

Pattern Writing for Knit Designers: a Q and A with Kate Atherley

I've been wanting to share this book with you for quite a while:
Written by my tech editor (and friend) Kate Atherley, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, is a definitive guide on understanding ALL the many elements that go into knit pattern writing. In fact, a newer designer (or knitter) sitting down with this book might be overwhelmed by everything Kate deems essential to a well written pattern. But, nothing in this book should be overlooked.... it is entirely useful! Even if you aren't a designer, or aspiring one, the content in this book will help you understand how to read patterns more deeply. I certainly wish I had it as a reference when I was starting out!

There have been  fabulous reviews on Pattern Writing for Knit Designers that I suggest you read. I thought it would be a fun twist to do a Q and A with Kate to talk about how she helped me become a better pattern writer.... a very different thing from being a knitwear designer!
L: Do you remember what the first pattern of mine was that you edited? I believe it was for Knitty..... did you shake your head in dismay at any of my snaffus?
Kate:
I had to go back and look; it seems like it might have been the Mr. Popper hot water bottle cover. And it looks like although it was pretty far off the style sheet, it was in pretty good shape. It's funny, actually, because that pattern is not at all representative of your work, in that it uses techniques I don't think I've ever seen you use in another pattern... felting! intarsia in the round! And hot water bottle covers? You're rarely that practical or domestic.

Looking back on my notes, I remember it well, actually. The intarsia in the round was pretty challenging to review... I had to get you needles and yarn and actually knit for that one!

In fact, I would say that it set the theme very nicely for our relationship: you do challenging, unusual and interesting things, and I do often have to get out needles and yarn to be able to edit. Some things I can just read through, and knit "in my head", but that's rarely true of your patterns.

L:
I have learned a TON from you about clarity, consistency, and comprehension,what have you learned from me? 

Kate: I think I learn something with every pattern. That first one taught me about intarsia in the round. Would you be appalled to learn that I'd never knitted anything with beads before we started working together? And you've taught me about lace design and all sorts of fantastic constructions. In fact, I have an element in a new design that's loosely inspired by your work - I work a shawl in two directions, at 90-degree angles. And I've learned a lot about how to check through complex charts and how to proofread long and complicated written instructions for charts. (Multiple colors of pens; print them out; post it notes and rulers; and more coffee.)

L: Is there any mistake I consistently make that you have to correct?
Kate: Not any more . We had to have the conversation about SSK and how you defined it, but I've cured you of that particular bad habit.

L: Is there an element to my patterns that you find really effective?
Kate: I adore that you work really hard to include both charts and written instructions. Sometimes it's hard work for both of us, but I know you're making a lot of knitters very happy. Not all knitters love charts, and so often complex lace patterns are only charted. You're going an extra step - one of the reasons your knitters love you.

L: Often times on my charts you comment that you wish I would include stitch counts and I pretty much always choose not to as they confuse "the picture" for me... can you explain more why you think I should? (and I know you wrote a whole chapter on this exact topic!)
Kate: It's partially because it makes life easier to me to check. After all, I need to check the written instructions against the charts (and vice versa) and it's nice to be able to glance at it to know how many stitches there are. That having been said, where there's repeats, it's not possible (or indeed advisable), and I think in many cases (see answer to next question ) your charts are full of tricky repeats and all sorts of things.


L: We've developed a bit of a "game-on" mentality where I try to make your brain hurt with complex patterns to edit... were there any patterns (or projects) of mine in which you wanted to just throw in the towel and tell me to go find another editor? (Sorry to say....I have another one coming down the pike in this vein!)
Kate:
I may regret saying this, but not so far. Sometimes I have to make more coffee, and you've definitely make me work hard, but I love the challenge. I think it works well between us because we've established a partnership - I'm entirely comfortable telling you if I don't understand something or am just wildly confused, and I'm entirely ok when you tell me that I have it wrong. Because sometimes that does happen! The fact that I work without the samples adds to the challenge, especially when your pattern has an interesting construction. I appreciate your patience when I have to ask questions. But equally, I think the process of the two of us having to think through the construction and how to communicate it, and making sure it makes sense to me without me having my hands on the sample, makes for better patterns!

L: Does how we work together differ from how you work with other  designers? What is unique about it?
Kate: I love that we've developed some fun shorthand... sometimes I can just put ? or a ! in a comment, and you'll know what I mean. And I really enjoy that we can ask questions and collaborate - it's not just about me checking your math, but about a discussion about how to best communicate complex ideas to your knitters. I appreciate that we can have discussions about usability, not just numbers.  Plus you don't mind if I swear in my edit notes.

Thankyou Kate!  I can't agree more with you... we've developed a fabulous comfortable working relationship that has made us both better at what we do! I hope this gives you all more of an idea of exactly how wonderful Kate and her body of knowledge is.

Time for a giveaway... 

Kate has generously donated  a digital copy of Pattern Writing for Knit Designers to giveaway to one of you!  Just leave a comment below by 11pm (EST) on March 6th, don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you! I randomly choose a winner next week and announce them in my Ravelry group in the news thread and on Facebook!

78 comments:

  1. This book looks fascinating! Like many knitters, I have ideas in my head and love to turn them into real knits. But the idea of writing these designs up into patterns for other knitters to make seems terribly intimidating.

    (GypsyScarfWoman on Rav)

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  2. Your wonderful working relationship is evident in every single pattern!! You obviously both work so hard to give us knitters the clearest, most concise directions to not only complete Laura's intricate designs, but truly enjoy the process. Thanks to you both for all the hard work and dedication! You make knitting a joy :) <3

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  3. I had read the review on Knitty and you just confirmed their findings. Love your Q&A with Kate. Your collaboration yields wonderfully addictive patterns. Thank you both of you.
    RAVhandle: hehl

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  4. I am just starting to explore pattern writing and I have heard wonderful things about Kate and about this book. Would love to have it in my reference library!

    Deb
    JerseyShoreDeb on Ravelry

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  5. How exciting! I would love to win a copy of this. It sounds so informative and interesting. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  6. It has been a privilege and and education to test knit and contribute a bit to your work with Kate. I have learned a ton about pattern writing from knitting your patterns first and then seeing what has changed after Kate TE's them. I purchased Kate's book the day it was released and it is a gold mine of information. I would love to meet Kate someday!

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    1. P.S. You left out one of Kate's most important credentials: designer of the fantastic and brilliant Bigger on the Inside, which I had the pleasure of knitting and giving to a fellow fan of the Doctor last year.

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  7. I'd love to win! (I'm WordLily on Rav)

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  8. Sounds like a wonderful book.

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  9. This book is on my wishlist. I have never designed anything before but would like to try to this year. Thanks for the giveaway!

    (rav id fishgirl182)

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  10. Great interview and it looks like a great book. I do so much pattern adjusting and the book could be an invauable tool.

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  11. I have been intrigued with this book since I first saw that it was going to be published. If I don't win it ( which is more than likely as I don't have any magic touch) I will certainly be purchasing it soon. I will never be competition for. The great designers such as yourself Laura, however, I do love to learn about the process.

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  12. Great Q&A. Also, love the headshot Kate! :)

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  13. Claudia (candybar on ravelry)March 4, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    Sounds like a very interesting read!

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  14. I would love to read through this book! I've got a few ideas brewing in my brain for potential designs and reading Kate's guide should be very helpful :)
    Rav: JLCherry33

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  15. I had no idea there was such a career as a tech editor! How fun is that?! Makes the math lover in me all giddy inside :)) Love your playful banter in the interview, I am sure the book would be an invaluable resource!! Kelly Lauta

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  16. I have been wanting this book since before it came out! It looks fantastic. I am luckystitches on Ravelry.

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  17. Such a fun q & a ! Sounds like a great friendship.

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  18. what a great interview! i now know more interesting stuff about both of you. cool. (i'm talithakuomi on ravelry)

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  19. Hi! I love your patterns & designs and Kate's, too!
    Thanks for the interview, am looking forward to getting the book.
    S
    Skippie on Ravelry

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  20. I would love to read this book, it would help me a lot. I have a few sweaters in my head that I need to get on the needles and written down.
    Kristi27 on Ravelry

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  21. Great interview. Fascinating behind the scenes details.
    MMahoney on Ravelry

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  22. wow! this book looks awesome! I'm just now writing up my first pattern and this looks like the perfect read (as I'd like my pattern to be comprehensible.) :D

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  23. I would love to receive this book! Not that I will ever write a pattern because I totally enjoy using someone else's hard work 😊. I am sleekymom on ravelry.

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  24. This sounds like a fantastic book. I hope I can win the giveaway for this!

    I'm on ravelry, screen name is NakedOrangie
    alternatively, my gmail (for contacting via email): hazelpeanut

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  25. Oh I have really enjoyed this blog. I have so many ideas in my head and have a couple drawings... I LOVE the understanding between the two of you. I remember when I first got the Lace class thru Craftsy.com. I took the time to write out the pattern for Clarus from your chart only pattern; plus I was knitting in black ;-D Laura you inspire me to become a better knitter, my Mom tells me all the time how well my knitting is lately. THANK YOU

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  26. I would really like this book as I often find my self either re-writing a pattern, editing a pattern or reverse engineering a pattern and it seems to be happening more and more. This book would be a god-send!

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  27. I'd be really happy to get some tips for the next few patterns I'm finishing! Looks like a great book.Thanks for giveaway chance. Rav:whimZknits

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  28. Thanks Laura for the blog post & opportunity to win Kate's fabulous book.
    I do believe that your patterns are simply THE best in the world … maybe I'm a little biased tho �� & really value the work you & Kate do to ensure that by trusting & following your pattern will result in a perfect item every time. Rav: piri127

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  29. Great blog post! I'm looking forward to reading this book. I have no intention of ever designing, but I agree that knowing more about the process will be beneficial as a knitter.
    lesatustin on Ravelry

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  30. I really enjoyed this little Q & A. :-) I often make small alterations to patterns, but have no real ambition to design anything from 'scratch'. Understanding some complicated pattern processes, however, sounds pretty interesting!

    dktrout on Ravelry

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  31. I agree on a very interesting blog post and I would love to learn more about all that designing and pattern writing - so if I don´t win I will buy that book for sure! :)
    Thanks for introducing Kate and her work!

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  32. Thanks for the interview. I'm very interested in reading Kate's book! (kfrisa on Ravelry)

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  33. I've always loved the challenge of your designs, but had not thought about how much more challenging editing them would be. Thanks for the introduction! (Ellsbridge on Ravelry)

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  34. I found your conversation so interesting. I've met Kate and taken lessons with her and showed her one of my Mystery projects that she had edited for you. I would love to read her book.
    Highlights on Ravelry.
    Julie Ann

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  35. Sounds like a very interesting book most knitters would bebefit from.
    I love the comment about stitch count, which I think is important to especially for large lace projects :)

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  36. Sounds like an excellent book! I'm just starting to think about writing up some of my own designs and think having this from the beginning would be most helpful! Thanks! (Rav ID: bookchick29)

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  37. Wonderful, reliable pattern writing resource--what knitter wouldn't want one. Sounds like a winner
    (Ravelry ID: moonglow225)

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  39. This would be an interesting book to win. Fingers crossed. missyd on Ravelry.

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  40. This book would be a great addition to my knitting resource collection. I have wanted to try designing but need a little nudge to take the plunge. This book would be the answer. I loved the Q&A between you two. What a constructive working relationship you have developed!

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  41. I'm so excited to check out this book - such inspiration!

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  42. Laura, between you and Craftsy I am learning so much and leaning more towards designing my own patterns...this book seems like a wonderful resource to add to my library!
    quilterlis on Ravelry

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  43. Looks like a fabulous book!!! Looks like it takes teamwork to develop a great pattern!!

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  44. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds like a good read. Loladietcola on rav

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  45. What fun it would be to write a pattern. What I am most curious about is learning how to make a design in differen sizes. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  46. This book is so enticing! It's my dream to design, but I'm always slowed down by the challenge of getting the instructions comprehensible and concise. I feel like Kate's book would provide the much-needed boost of confidence.
    I am k1teach2 on Ravelry.

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  47. I'd love to win- have been wanting to try to write my own pattern and this looks like just what I need!
    I'm ssunday on Ravelry

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  48. No wonder your patterns are clear and precise. Thanks a lot.

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  49. Clear concise well-written patterns really matter! Huge thanks to you both :)
    -Shari
    IrishPogue on Ravelry

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  50. Have been considering this book for a while, thanks for sharing!

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  51. Wow, two of my fave designers getting together for a chat. Loved the Q&A. I've been lucky enough to take some classes with Kate and for now Craftsy will have do for you. Thanks for the blog post and opportunity to win. (Ravelry ID ramonafirehorse)

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  52. I think this is wonderful and will help many knitters who want to start publishing patterns. I really enjoyed the interview. Does she have any of her project notes to you in her book? I'm sure those would be fun to read. :)
    Lkgervitz

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  53. This discussion was very interesting, thank you for posting it.
    I would love to win the copy of the book because it seems so interesting.
    My ravelry ID is MissLitchi

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  54. Such a lovely interview, I can feel the warm relation between you two! I truly enjoyed reading it! And the book is going directly on my wishlist!
    I'm 3owin on ravelry

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  55. Very interesting. I had no idea how much a tech editor shaped your pattern writing style. And the book sounds very educational...I'll have to check it out!

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  56. This is a great interview! It sounds like you two are a perfect match. Laura, my knitting was OK before I took your Craftsy classes, but now I have learned so many new techniques and made some lovely projects. I have to tell you that I LOVE that I can trust your patterns! Even when it seems odd, if I just keep knitting, everything works out (except for knitter-error!)

    needlecat on Ravelry

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  57. Loved this interview/review! I've had this book on my wishlist for a bit but haven't picked up a copy yet. I would be thrilled to win the giveaway, and it would be perfect timing -- I'm working on my first design right now....

    -greg, KnittingDaddy on Ravelry

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  58. Sounds like a wonderfully interesting book! (RitaMiller on Ravelry)

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  59. What a fun interview; you have a great working relationship. I'll be meeting Kate at an event next month, and would love to have a sneak peek into her mind via this book!

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  60. I'd love to be entered into the giveaway. I took your cowl design class on Craftsy, and this q&a actually made me think tech editing sounds like a fascinating career I could actually be suited to (with a math/creative combo brain!) Can't wait to read it!

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  61. I'm always thinking of designs that I would like to make, but then, trying to implement the idea with all the details important for fit is overwhelming.

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  62. PS....from Dianne 3/5/15 at 1:34pm.....ravelry I'd is dmallen

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  63. OMG, I would LOVE to have this book in my hands! I'm venturing into the uncharted territory of knit and crochet design and I would love to have this book available as a reference and from which to learn. Thank you for the opportunity to win it, and for the insightful interview.

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  64. Thanks for sharing the interview, have been meaning to check out the book.

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  65. What a great reference book to have. I pretty much use "The Force" when designing but I'm always interested in other input. Cheers! Rav. ID: pinkysuede

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  66. I'd love to get a copy of this book! I have a few ideas in the works that I know need the extra help with details and all. Rav ID: almeida101

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  67. Would love to win! Find myself struggling with some patterns, knowing there must be a way to clarify them, but not knowing how to go about doing that. Kate's book would really enhance my knitting experience. Great blog post. Cindymalone on Ravelry.

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  68. Learning is a life long process. Lace used to be intimidating until I "met" you. Would love to learn more tricks of the knitting trade. Thanks!

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  69. Looks like a fun book! (rav ebl8)

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  70. I already have the book but want to chime in...it is excellent! Thank you Kate!

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  71. I already have the book but want to chime in...it is excellent! Thank you Kate!

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  72. Sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for the chance to win (asimplehomestd on Rav)

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  73. Learned to read lace charts from your crafty class, looking forward trying out more of your patterns!

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  74. Quite interesting knowing what goes behind the fabulous patterns you have spoilt us with! Thanks for the giveaway!
    Backtobasics

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