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  • 5 things great patterns share
  • Ellen Lewis
5 things great patterns share

Continuing our February theme of what we love, I want to talk about designers I love. There are plenty of folks out there posting patterns for spectacular sweaters, hats, cowls, and more, but not all designers are created equal. In my book, certain designers enjoy Rockstar status. What makes a designer a Rocktar? You might be surprised, because it's definitely not how many favorites or how many projects their designs enjoy on Ravelry.

Here are 5 things that Rockstar designers' patterns have

  1. Gorgeous garments that you would buy in the store. Sometimes we choose patterns because they look easy and fun to knit, but if you saw that same garment on the rack at the store, you wouldn't give it a second look. As a knitter, you're sinking many hours and many dollars into your sweater - it should be something that makes you feel fabulous and makes your friends ask you where you got it.
  2. Clear, detailed, and specific, instructions. With a great knitting pattern, even a beginner can succeed. They specify what kind of increases and decreases to use and exactly where to make them. They spell out how to work the left front rather than just saying "Work left front as for right, reversing all shapings." It takes more time and effort, and more paper space, but since so many patterns are electronic, I think more information and support is always better.
  3. Accurate instructions. How frustrating is it when you find that the numbers for the neckline or shoulder or whatever are totally off, and you rip it out half a dozen times before you find that the pattern is actually completely wrong in that size. Yes, pattern drafting is complicated, and we all make mistakes, but Rock Star designers are knitters themselves, and they use good test knitters and anal-retentive tech editors.
  4. Reasonable size range. I've seen patterns with bust sizes like Small 34", Medium 38", Large 42". I'm sorry, but that is lame. Many American women are outside that size range and shouldn't be excluded from knitting good-looking garments for themselves. Yes, it's more work to draft plus sizes. You can't simply extrapolate all the measurements and expect it to work. The shoulders will be too wide, the armholes too deep, and the shaping will just be wrong.
  5. Honest pattern photos and complete schematics. The patterns in many knitting magazines are gorgeous, but you've got to remember that these garments are all professionally lighted, exquisitely styled, and most importantly, they are probably pinned to create a particular silhouette. The garment depicted is not necessarily what you will get if you follow the pattern as written. Rockstar patterns have schematics that show you the exact size and shape of what you're knitting so that you can choose to modify the pattern to suit your figure and your taste.

So, there you have it. My standards are high, but they're not unreachable. In fact, there are loads of Rockstar designers who put out consistently great patterns.  I'll post some of my favorites later this week.  Stay warm and stay tuned!

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  • Ellen Lewis

Comments on this post ( 6 )

  • Feb 17, 2015

    thank you for featuring a photo of my henley design with your article and for supporting customer expectations!

    — anne hanson

  • Feb 17, 2015

    One must read a knitting pattern with the same educated skepticism one uses in listening to a politician! Is there any way to enforce standards of practice for both designers and candidates — so that what is promised is what happens?

    Sharing with each other which ones are truly faithful to their promises would be great, as you have done here. Thanks so
    much.

    — tabor

  • Feb 17, 2015

    For many years I have been the perpetual beginner at knitting. Your wonderfully readable and informative newsletters and blog, and your warm welcome and unfailing willingness to offer advice and assistance at your shop have convinced me that it is time to grow my knitting skills. Many thanks to you and your friendly and helpful staff at Crazy For Ewe.

    — Susan

  • Feb 16, 2015

    Hi Ellen… I absolutely love everything about this message; it’s really a form of Valentine advice and thoughtful insights which so few people really get to explore. It takes me back to my early days of intense sewing/dressmaking in Home Ec classes & 4-H clubs in my Midwestern Illinois homeland.
    Those high school teachers, farm wives, 4-H Club leaders and life-long seamstresses were exacting in their work, their teaching and their pride in finished products.
    Your knitting advice is wonderful…and this reality check about patterns and commercial photos is an inspiration. Thanx! Always good to be reminded of all this. Hoping to get into the shoppe soon. Have been travelling a bit and dealing with some medical stuff which keeps me up in DC a lot. Time to get busy on holiday projects for sure! See you soon. Hugs, Bev

    beverly wyckoff jackson
    cell: 202.494.7394
    bev@millcoveharbor.com

    — Beverly Jackson

  • Feb 16, 2015

    Amen! I also have a personal blacklist of designers who repeatedly violate these standards!

    — Barbara

  • Feb 16, 2015

    Ellen—would love to know the names of a few of your Rockstar designers!!!

    — Ann Nola

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