I spend a good amount of time stalking forums on Ravelry, scoping out what knitters have to say about the patterns they knit.
Selling a product, even knitwear design, is about offering a solution to a problem. And sometimes, that solution can be just as simple as providing information in a written pattern/product description that many designers (even I'm guilty of this) leave out but can make the knitting experience that much better for the knitter.
1. Gauge (unblocked and blocked)
Oh, am I guilty of this one. Every time I intend to check the measurements of a shawl before I block, I forget to do so. Why is getting the unblocked measurements so important? Because the gauge for shawls unblocked vs blocked can really vary, especially if you're the type who loves to aggressively block shawls and stretch them out. And getting the unblocked measurements is especially crucial when it comes to yardage. Sure, yardage for shawls isn't always important because gauge isn't critical, but if you're designing a one-skein wonder, by putting that limitation on the yardage, you need to get that gauge so people can achieve the same outcome without having to buy an extra skein of yarn (and then it becomes a two-skein almost-wonder).
I like to list both the amount of skeins used in the sample yarn as well as how many yards were actually used. This really depends on the requirements of the provider of the yarn support, but if they are ok with you adding the yardage, in case a knitter wants to substitute the yarn, then add it in. You can get the yardage by weighing the yarn and calculating from how many grams are left over, how many yards were used. It's pretty simple math. And it's best to include an estimated range of yardage as this can vary from person to person based on gauge, what needle size they use to obtain that gauge, etc.
3. Inches and CM
Knitting is a world-wide hobby, not just localized to the US so you will have knitters who will be working in the metric system. This is a habit that I'm trying to instill, adding both inches / US needle sizes with cm. Knitters really appreciate that little bit of extra effort to make their knitting experience that more enjoyable. If we can say, "Well, it's just a bit of work for them but its easy work" then, why don't WE do the work for them, if it's so easy? (My answer: because I'm a lazy butt and it's SO EASY. The easier the task, the less likely I'm going to do it).
But really. Google has a inches to CM converter and you get those numbers in two seconds. And here's a chart for US needle sizes to mm. Click on the image to download the pdf version to print out and hang up on your wall for all eternity. Now, no more excuses!
4. Written and Charted Instructions
The only type of stitch pattern that I don't put written instructions are for stranded colorwork. But for everything else, lace, cables, textured stitches, I try to incorporate both written and charted instructions. I try to make the least amount of assumptions for those buying my patterns, I can't assume, for example, that they know how to read charts like I do. Some are more comfortable with written instructions. I can't handle written instructions as they all start jumbling together (once I made the transfer to reading charts so I could attempt the more complex stitches) but that doesn't mean the same for someone else.
I'm definitely working on this one for my shawl patterns. But if you have a garment design, schematics are pretty much essential. Even something simple to highlight the important measurements works better than nothing. It doesn't have to be perfect (and there are people who can produce schematics for you) but it needs to detail the basic shape of the design and the measurements of those areas.
6. BONUS! Stitch Counts
Because five isn't enough, I'm adding a sixth bonus on. Stitch counts! This is my personal biggest problem. It's not that I don't provide stitch counts, it's that I don't give enough. Always include the stitch count on rows or sections where the count changes. But usually my shawl patterns are just repeats of a chart so I give the overall stitch count for the section as it is completed. But sometimes, people want the stitch count for EACH row, as it helps them stay on track. So recently, I've been changing things up by adding a new page to my patterns dedicated to just the stitch counts for every row that was worked for the sample piece. Thankfully I've developed a method for getting those stitch counts fast and easy so it's now no longer a pain in the butt. I'll be sharing that method with you in a future post.
What other pieces of information do you wish designers would add in their patterns to make your knitting experience easier? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!