Hi everyone, and happy October! Fall is setting in here in my area of the world and with that comes much more activity in the fibre community. My Instagram feed is becoming flooded with cozy sweaters and warm accessories as designers in the northern hemisphere begin releasing those cold weather patterns they’ve been working on all summer!
Over the coming months, I’m going to be talking about one very specific element of a knitting pattern: the listing of materials. This is something that, while seemingly straightforward, often contains inconsistencies and errors (so much so that it’s too much information to fit into a single newsletter). This month I’ll be covering how to list the yarn required.
And as always, I’ve included my tech editing availability for the coming month. I am booking into the third week of October at the moment, so get in touch soon if you’ve got a pattern nearly ready for editing!
Listing Yarn Requirements
When writing a pattern, including a complete and accurate listing of materials is important because a knitter’s ability to replicate the sample is contingent on having the right tools and materials on hand.
As designers, we want our customers to be happy with the finished product they make from our patterns. In my experience, this is heavily linked to how closely they feel their finished object resembles the sample in the pattern photos.
It seems like it would be fairly easy to indicate what yarn is required for a knitting project, but I see all manner of errors and inconsistencies. From misspelling the dyer/manufacturer to omitting the weight of yarn used in the sample, mistakes and omissions happen surprisingly frequently.
Below I go over what to include in the yarn section of your pattern, some of the most common mistakes I see and address some additional challenges you may encounter.
What to include
When listing the yarn required for a project, it’s important to list the following for each yarn/colour used:
- The amount of yarn required, expressed in metres and/or yards, for each pattern size;
- The weight of yarn (e.g., Worsted weight);
- The fibre content of the yarn used in the sample; and,
- Optionally, the exact yarn used in the sample.
Seems simple, right? If it were, I wouldn’t be dedicating a newsletter to the topic. 😉
1. Yarn amount listed only in grams and/or ounces
The mass (in grams and/or oz) will only be accurate if the knitter uses yarn with the exact specifications as the one used to knit the sample. You will likely measure the amount of yarn used in your sample by weighing it, but you should convert it to metres/yards when adding the information to your pattern.
For example, if the yarn you used comes in 192 metre/115g skeins and your sample weighs 95g:
192 metres / 115g = 1.66956522 metres per gram
95g (sample weight) x 1.66956522 m/gram = 158.6 metres*
*I should mention that it is common practice to round up (often to the nearest 5 metres/yards) and add a bit of a buffer to ensure the knitter does not run out of yarn. I personally add 10 to 15%, depending on the item, but your mileage may vary.
2. Yarn amount listed only in “number of skeins” of the sample yarn
If you are including the name of the yarn used in the sample, it’s ok to list the number of skeins. However, it’s still best to also include the actual metres/yards required as it makes it easier for the knitter to substitute yarns. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves standing in a yarn store trying to convert the yarn requirements in a pattern from X skeins of yarn A to Y skeins of yarn B (or to have made a mistake doing so, only to get home and realize I’ve bought too much/too little). Being specific about the amount of yarn will reduce the margin of error.
3. Typos/mistakes in the name/brand/base of the sample yarn
This is one of the most common errors I see. When listing the exact brand/base of yarn used in the sample, be sure to do so accurately. Look at the ball band, manufacturer’s website, and/or the yarn entry on Ravelry to be sure.
For example, based on this yarn entry in Ravelry, how should this yarn be referenced?
Wrong: HypothesisYarns Worsted
Wrong: Hypothesis Yarns worsted
Right: Hypothesis Yarns Worsted
4. Listing the amount and weight of yarn but not the fibre content
Because different fibres behave differently when knit up, a knitter will have a better chance of achieving good results if they choose a yarn with a similar fibre content to what was used in the sample.
For example, if a pattern simply calls for 1000 metres of fingering weight yarn, and the sample was knit with 100% wool, a project knit in cotton will turn out much differently than the sample!
Some knitters will invariably choose to use different fibres, but it’s still best to provide the most complete and accurate yarn information possible.
It’s disappointing when you spend the time and energy designing a pattern using a particular yarn only to have the yarn discontinued. However, as long as you’ve specified the amount, weight, and fibre content in the pattern, you shouldn’t run into any issues. Even if you have the discontinued yarn listed in your pattern, the knitter should be able to substitute fairly easily if you’ve given them all the right information.
Political affiliation and inclusivity
Now more than ever, consumers are being selective with where they spend their hard-earned (and often scarce) disposable income. They are choosing to support companies whose values are in line with their own, and steering clear of brands that discriminate and don’t value inclusivity.
In the knitting community, there has been a movement towards companies and independent dyers that support and create safe spaces for BIPOC, LBGTQ+, and other marginalized groups. As a designer, what do you do if you’ve used a yarn in a design and you no longer want to support that particular company or dyer?
I am by no means an expert on this topic. It’s also not feasible for me to knit all new samples! However, one thing I have started doing in order to distance myself from brands that I no longer want to support is omitting the yarn company when I talk about the design on social media. It is also on my “to do” list to go through all my patterns and remove those specific yarns from the “Materials” section, leaving only a generic listing of the amount, weight, and fibre content. These are small but important steps I can take to make sure I am not promoting companies and brands I consider harmful, even when I’ve worked with them in the past. Going forward the answer is to be more careful and selective regarding who I work with and whose products I endorse, and to seek out companies and dyers who show their commitment to inclusion.
Tech Editing Availability
I have the following tech editing spots available for October:
Sept 30 – Oct 4: all booked up!
- Oct 7 – 11: 1 spot remaining
- Oct 14 – 18: 2 spots available
- Oct 21 – 25: 2 spots available
- Oct 28 – Nov 1: 3 spots available
Get in touch ASAP if you’d like to reserve a spot!