Style sheets for designers?

What is a style sheet? It’s an explicit guide to exactly how you want to write and format your pattern. I use one when I’m writing my own patterns and if you have one, it makes pattern writing easier for you and saves time for me as your tech editor (thus costing you less!). If you don’t have one, and would like one, that’s a service I offer.

You might already have a pattern template and be wondering why you need a style sheet and what’s the difference anyway? I like to think of the template as the guide to making your patterns look consistent and the style sheet as the guide to making your patterns consistently easy to read. Consistency across your patterns is important, both for you as the designer and for your customers. First-time customers will appreciate a well-written, edited, and laid out pattern. Repeat customers will become familiar with your pattern style and will find it easier to knit your patterns. With a style sheet, both you and your tech editor will easily be able to ensure that everything you need is included in the pattern and that the layout is consistent with your style.

What’s in a style sheet? All that you need to write a complete and consistent pattern! There’s a lot to include in a knitting pattern and it needs to be as easily comprehended as possible by your customers. You’ll need most or all of the following components in your pattern, and possibly more:

  • Title, image, romance
  • Notes (including construction, techniques, etc.)
  • Materials needed (needles, yarn, notions, etc.)
  • Gauge
  • Sizing information
  • Abbreviations used throughout
  • Pattern directions
  • Charts and/or schematics 
  • Contact information

Your style sheet will outline how and where you put all that pattern information.

When it comes to phrasing directions in your patterns, style sheets are invaluable. For example, my style sheet includes guidelines like:

  • Instruction repeated until a specific number of sts: use “*…; rpt from * to last X sts,” (followed by instructions for last X sts)
  • Measurements: use inches (to the quarter inch) & centimeters (to the half centimeter)
  • Written instructions for charts should end on same row/rnd number as chart (even if using “Row 2 and all WS rows: …” -> write out the last WS row instructions)
  • Notes re techniques: “Work rows 1-15[17,17,-,-] from Instep Chart 1 on p. x then row 16[18,18,-,-] below; or work entirely from written directions below:”

A style sheet also includes includes information about your pattern template, i.e. exactly how to format your knitting pattern. Are your patterns formatted into two columns a page? Do you use page numbers? Is your list of abbreviations at the beginning or end of your pattern? These are all elements that your style sheet will help you keep consistent from pattern to pattern. In my style sheet, I also spell out specifications for fonts used, colours, sizes, and heading styles. Armed with my comprehensive style sheet, I can easily check off each stage of a new pattern to ensure that I’m being completely consistent.

As a tech editor, I can work with you to develop a good style sheet that helps you write the clearest patterns and maintain a consistent style. If you check your new pattern against your style sheet before tech editing, you can save yourself some money! Please be in touch if you’d like to know more or have questions and, in the meantime, happy knitting and designing!

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