When I first started designing, I didn't think much about pattern layout.
Get all the info in the pattern, it doesn't have to be pretty.
But, as the design career went from hobby to part-time job to full-time job, pattern layout started to become more important to me. I wanted to have beautiful patterns. When I was first ready to make the next step to having a nice pattern layout, I hired someone to create a template in Microsoft Word for me, as that was what I was using at the time to produce my patterns. Lots of designers use Word or other Microsoft products to create beautiful patterns. I made the switch to Adobe InDesign for one simple reason - I wanted to learn how to use it. As a former lab lady, I can use Microsoft Word and Excel all day long with no problem, but I had no idea about Adobe products. I liked the idea of a challenge to learn something new. Simple as that.
So, the first take away here is use whatever software you want and are comfortable with to make your patterns. There are lots of options and they all work just fine.
Ok, so you have your software choice made, now what? There are an unlimited number of ways to layout your knitting or crochet pattern. Here are just a few things that I think are important when choosing a layout:
- Be Consistent
Once you've determined everything that needs to go into your pattern, make sure you have it in your pattern - every time. I suggest making a style sheet to help you (and your tech editor) be sure you have all the relevant information. I'd also recommend that you keep your layout similar from pattern to pattern. You may have to move things around a little bit in order to get everything to fit the way you want it to, but having patterns that look the same really help your fans find what they need in your pattern quickly!
- White Space is Your Friend
Patterns have a lot of words and instructions. I include the written instructions for all the charts in my patterns. That's a lot of text. By paying attention to the white space in the pattern, you make things easier to read. But, you also have to be careful not to have a single line of text going onto the final page of your pattern. Which brings me to my next point...
- Watch the Page Count
In the digital age we live in, it may seem like you can make your patterns as lengthy as you want. The reality is many knitters and crocheters still prefer to print their patterns (I know I do). Also, because I have a pattern distributor, I take into account page requirements for mass printing. Most of my patterns are 3-4 pages. Also, as you can see above, the first page of my pattern has the materials list, a photo, gauge, etc. No actual instructions to make the shawls. I made this choice on purpose - if a knitter wants to skip printing the first page to save ink/paper, they can. Unless there's an unusual abbreviation in a pattern, which they could just write on the first page they print, they don't technically need that first page to make the shawl. Let's be honest - very few knitters pay attention to the gauge listed in a shawl pattern anyway, right? :)
- Photo Quality
This was honestly something I didn't think much about until I started working with Stitch Sprouts. Make sure those photos in your pattern are acceptable print quality. No one wants to print a pattern with a super fuzzy photo on it.
What makes you look at a pattern and say: that's a good pattern layout! I'd love to know.
*That is not a joke, I've grown to really love it. It's like a fun puzzle!