The Anatomy of a Pattern – the Essential Pieces of Information You Need!

Every week in my Facebook Group, Transform Your Yarn, I give my members a chance to ask a question about knitting, designing or running an indie-biz, which I answer personally, during a live-stream.

This week’s question is by Amanda, who asked:

What elements should be included when writing a pattern for publication and what format should they take?

Let’s break it down piece by piece by examining a pattern itself. You can download the pattern that I will be using, the Kakano Hat, for free and keep it as a reference, and knit up a sample for yourself too ;-)

Take the Initiate Knit Design Challenge (starting September 14th) to put this lesson into practice, as well as learn the knitwear design process!

The Title and Photo

The name of the pattern and the cover image of the design goes first. You want to show clear images of the design so the knitter has an overall idea of what the pattern will comprise of. Don't forget your name too ;-)




The About Section

You need to list all the materials needed for the knitter to successfully knit up the pattern:

·             Needle(s) used—in US size and in mm.

·             Yarn Used—yarn company, yarn base, yarn weight (ie, fingering, sport, etc.), fiber content, actual yarn weight in grams, yardage per skein in both yards and meters. Skeins used and colorways.

·             Yardage—Include both in yards and meters. If multiple colorways, list yardage for each.

·             Gauge—After blocking! If you have multiple stitch patterns, list them all here. Also specify if it’s worked flat or in the round.

·             Notions

·             Final Measurements—After blocking! Include in both inches and cm.

In the about section, you’ll also want to provide a summary of the design: the source of inspiration, the meaning of the name or how the knitter would connect to it, then the features of the pattern and how they benefit the knitter (I didn't do this, naughty me! But you can check out the pattern descriptions for my patterns such as the Taimana Cowl or the Mizu shawlette).

The Abbreviations Section

You may not want to write out “knit”, “purl”, or “knit two together” without using some abbreviations. Put ALL abbreviations and their definitions in this section. You can put the stitch instructions here as well, for example, for cable stitches or special lace increase or decrease stitches.

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The Pattern Stitches Section

If your pattern includes any stitch patterns that are not stockinette or garter, write them out here. In the pattern instructions itself, you’ll be referring to the stitches in this section and guiding the knitter where they go and how many times to repeat the rows. When listing stitch patterns include the stitch count, in the format “x sts + y” e.g., 12 sts + 4.


Stitch Pattern (X sts + Y)

Row 1 (RS): Capitalize the first letter of the row instructions, with a period at the end.

Row 2 (WS): On the first two rows, specify which is the RS row and the WS row. For patterns knit in the round, this isn't necessary.

Row 3: Bold everything preceding the column. 

Row 4: K1, p1.

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The Pattern Notes Section

Include all notes on construction: shaping details, unusual seaming, the direction of knitting, flat vs circular, etc. I include links to special pattern tutorials in this section.

The Pattern Instructions

Start with the CO instructions. If using multiple needles or colorways, state which one to use.

Breakdown the pattern into sections, with clear headers. Use the term “work” not “knit” when directing the knitter to work a stitch pattern. Indicate which rows to work and how many times it's repeated.

Include new stitch count at the end of decrease/increase rows. Be specific in which decreases/increases are used in the pattern.

And finally, the finishing instructions. If your design uses a particular BO technique, state which one to use. Don’t be afraid to go into detail on the finishing touches (such as blocking, adding extra flair, etc.)


I highly recommend to put in both written and charted instructions. Where you place this section is up to you, but I put it after the pattern instructions. When putting in your chart, don't forget the chart key too!

Take the Initiate Knit Design Challenge (starting September 14th) to put this lesson into practice, as well as learn the knitwear design process!