That swatch that was knit way back in the second installment of the series is coming back to the fore again. Not only does it show you how your fabric will look and how the different elements will work together, it also contains two very valuable numbers. Those would be your stitch gauge and your row gauge, or how many stitches and rows, respectively, make up an inch of your blocked swatch. Most patterns will give the gauge per 4 inches (10 cm), and that is the best way to measure it for accuracy. But when determining the numbers for a pattern I always use a the per inch (2.5 cm) gauge.
The next set of information needed are the measurements of the type of person or thing you are designing the piece for. If you’re just designing for one person or thing in particular, using their measurements is ideal. But, when writing a pattern for public consumption you are going to greatly increase your market if you include instructions for many different sizes. There are a number of different resources out there with this information but I tend to go with the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Body Measurements/Sizing table. There is a wealth of information there for men’s, women’s and children’s standards.
Now that you’ve got your gauge and your standard sizes, it’s time to put that information together. Marnie Maclean has an incredible tutorial on how to use Excel to do all the calculations for your pattern. Excel is particularly helpful for the grading aspect of the calculations, or figuring out the numbers for all the sizes you are interested in.
I’d say that for me this is the most time-intensive part of the process, mostly because I don’t have a very streamlined spreadsheet yet. I maintain a template each for women’s, men’s and children’s sizes, and, in theory, I should just be able to plug in my gauge information and have it spit out the majority of my information. Unfortunately my templates aren’t really at that point yet, but I’m building on them all the time. Below is an example of my current template for women. I’d love some feedback on what I might be missing. Perhaps I’ll come back to this post down the road and show a much different (better) template, but for now this is what I’ve got.
Thanks for reading Installment Four, stay tuned for Installment Five – Pattern Writing.