How To Create A Knitting Pattern: The Complete Guide

How To Create a Knitting Pattern

Are you a knitter dying to create your own knitting patterns but don’t have a clue where to start? Make yourself comfortable: let’s get you started on my tutorial series on how to create a knitting pattern.

This article series covers all you need to create knitting patterns on your own in 16 parts: from inspiration via yarn and pattern category selection to formatting issues, usability, testing your pattern, taking good pictures, pattern templates and finally how to publish your knitting pattern.

How To Create a Knitting Pattern: The Article Schedule


How To Create a Knitting Pattern Knitting Tutorials

16 Days Of How To Create A Knitting Pattern, Day 1: Know Your Limits (And How To Beat Them), Including The Tools Of The Trade

Are you a fairly experienced knitter? If yes, let’s start! Just directly proceed to step number two.

You haven’t mastered anything beyond knitting garter stitch scarves so far? Sorry to disappoint you, but maybe you should consider getting a little more practice before creating your own patterns. (I’m not known for diplomacy. I’m known for speaking the truth even if it hurts, so don’t take it personally. I’m just honest.)

They Say Everybody Can Create A Knitting Pattern

Yes, everybody capable of basic knitting skills can fire up word and create a knitting pattern PDF. The devil is in the details, because it’s actually quite hard to create good knitting patterns. Sorry to be the bad guy in this game: it takes more than a copy of Word and Excel to write a good knitting pattern.

Ready? Go!

Step One: Improve Your Knitting Skills

If you feel like you could use a little bit more of knitting experience so you can start designing your own: practice lots! Use different yarns, knit as many different garment and accessories as possible, with a range of designers as broad as possible.

Don’t be afraid of purchasing patterns. There are a ton of good knitting patterns available for free on the internet, true. But don’t make the mistake and limit yourself to them – try out a few designers and publications known for creating quality knitting patterns (if you got no clue where to start looking for some – personally, I recommend all patterns published by Twist Collective for example. I own quite a few of their patterns and have never been disappointed. And no, I’m not affiliated in any way. Just personal preferences.)

Learn by example. Try out new techniques and look closely on how the pattern is designed, written and formatted. Take attention to phrasing that makes it easy for you to understand directions clearly. What do you like and what not? Try to make yourself educated about the broad spectrum of knitting patterns out there in the wild.

Step Two: Let’s Start

The outline: let’s create a knitting pattern from scratch, then work on our draft until it becomes a knitting pattern which is actually usable. (And – as a nice consequence – sells much better than the average bad ones and will get you better reputation as a knitwear designer in the long term). We not only aspire to create a knitting pattern, we want to create a good, usable, professional knitting pattern.

You have been warned.

Handy Tools: Which One Do You Really Need?

Text Processing

To Word or not to Word? Patterns can indeed be created using Word. I know many designers who do and there’s nothing wrong with that if that is your preferred text editing program. Personally, I do not use Word for my knitting patterns. I used to but got fed up with it constantly crashing my MacBook, despite the lack of design control this text processing software provides. It’s a text editor, after all – no fancy design software!

Another possibility is to use LaTeX. All major maths related publication use LaTeX for their typesetting but it’s got what most people consider to be a slow learning curve. I recommend learning to use it if you write lots of texts with numerous references, no matter whether they are in-text or external – there’s nothing better than that. My doctoral thesis has been written in LaTeX, what else? But a thesis is not a knitting pattern, and LaTeX is not famous for creating beautiful documents without serious effort. (Except they are math related, then you will drool seriously caused by so much beauty).


For my patterns, I now use Adobe InDesign and never want to create a pattern again without it. It’s professional layout software which gets the job done. No crashing, tons of features, full control over the look & feel of the finished pattern and last but not least a ton of options for document publishing formats.

Want to go print? Easy! Kindle? Yes. EPUB? Of course! I like it, as you might have guessed. The downside: people consider it to be expensive and that’s kind of true. Well, it depends what you consider to be expensive: Adobe offers a range of subscription varieties for their product palette and there’s possibilities to get discounts on their plans. Get more info on the website of Adobe.

Vector Graphics (Scalable)

For creating vector graphics, which is a format scalable without loss as opposed to pixel based graphics created by software like Photoshop and Gimp, I use Adobe Illustrator. If you want a free variant of it, go for using Inkscape. Nothing bad about it except that personally, I find Illustrator more comfortable and intuitive.

Inkscape Screen

Pixel Graphics (Photo & Image Editing)

I’m using Photoshop since version 3.0, so don’t expect me to tell you how great Gimp is. Sorry. If you do not want to invest money in Photoshop, Gimp can be an alternative. It’s powerful but – same as with Inkscape – I’m so used to Photoshop that I find Gimp confusing sometimes, although I’ve used it for quite a while when I was working on a Linux box with no native support for Photoshop. It did the job – give it a shot, it’s free and open source (as is Inkscape), which is generally a good thing.

Charting Software

basic lace knitting stitches

For my charts, I’m using Knit Visualizer and like the clean look and feel the charts generated by it provide – they look very professional and the software features good usability besides a few minor issues (like not mirroring the decreases properly). KV got lots of other handy features like automatic creation of written instructions from a chart and custom stitch libraries, too. But not everybody might want to invest $189 in charting software, which I totally understand. (Took a while for me too to make this purchase decision, not to mention sell enough patterns to finance my copy).

There’s other charting software on the market but I never tried any of it, so I cannot make a statement here about those. Sorry!

Knit Visualizer Screen

One can create knitting charts with Excel and a knitting font like the one by David Xenakis, too. Theoretically. Practically, if you want your patterns to look professional, do not do this. Use proper charting software of your choice. Using obviously cheap solutions for typesetting makes your patterns look cheap and puts them into the hobby niche. Who wants to pay for something not optically appealing, not to mention readability issues? I do not. You have been warned.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I’m going to cover All About Inspiration – see you then!

Happy knitting,

Julia Riede Signature

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  1. Cindy R says:

    Oh, I just LOVE this! Thank you for starting this series! I have been thinking of software to write patterns but wasn’t sure where to start. And I already know the Adobe suite with my layout and web design background!

  2. d says:

    Hi Julia, great topic. Somehow I seem to be missing the last two posts on Shawl Design. Have I just missed them ? Was they posted and I just can not see them or have you decided not to post? Thanks Smiles D

    • Jriede Knitwear Design says:


      no, you didn’t miss them – I did not find the time to post them yet! But they will go online for sure, sooner or later. ;)


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