Ok, so I’ve been thinking about this blog and how I was going to introduce my ratings method. In the space of just the last few hours, I’ve had several changes of direction. So, I think the best thing to do is to tell you what I look for in a good pattern and then tell you what I’ve heard from others on the subject. If you add your own feedback to all of this, then I can compile a nice orderly list of what the majority of crocheters look for and then I can decide on a point system that would be understandable to all.
Here are my notes in the order in which they were written:
- Is the gauge given and if so, is it a full horizontal and vertical sampling (i.e. 14 dc and 9 rows = 4″) or only based on the length of a chain?
- Is the font easy to read?
- Does the pattern flow seamlessly from one part to the next or do you have to search for information? Does the pattern give you direction as to where the next step can be found?
- Is contact information provided to reach the designer if you have questions or need support?
- Does the designer assign a difficulty rating to their pattern?
- Are there errors in stitch counts, typos, or misspellings? How many?
- Is a hook size given?
- Does the designer state a recommended yarn either by weight, fiber or name brand?
- Once the item is complete, does it resemble or closely match the photo used for advertising?
- If a gauge was given (and you checked it!), did the item come out to the correct size?
- Are there adequate photos to explain more difficult stitches or how and where to sew on parts?
- Is there an abbreviation key?
- If there are special stitches, is there a clear explanation on how to execute them? How about a picture tutorial?
- Does the designer restrict the pattern to personal use only, require a cottage license, request that you contact them first before selling any of your items, or do they give you full permission to sell what you want?
- Does the pattern have a cluttered look or feel to it?
- Are measurements of the items provided?
Here is a synopsis of the feedback I got from a few fellow crocheters on what they expect to see in a good pattern and what they dislike as well:
- Gauge – They have stated that they are amazed at the number of patterns they come across that does not list a gauge. Many of the crocheters I discussed this with sell their crocheted items so it is crucial that a gauge be listed in order to get correct sizing.
- Stitch counts – Amazingly enough, there are still patterns out there that do not list a stitch count at the end of every row. Apparently there are enough of those types of patterns for this to be an issue since I also have that on my list which was compiled before I spoke with the group.
- Measurements – Measurements and gauge go hand in hand. When we speak of measurements, we want to know how tall a hat is supposed to be from top down to brim, or how wide a diaper cover is at the waistband, or what the rise of the cover is. If your gauge checks out fine horizontally but not vertically, this could be a huge factor in getting the correct sizing. More experienced crocheters can make adjustments by adding extra rows or changing hook sizes but without measurements and when you are thinking your gauge is alright because your swatch came up fine, you might find that the item you just made has to be frogged and adjusted because it’s too short/long/narrow/etc.
- Typos and misspellings – Most people are not bothered by one or two typos or misspellings unless they affect the outcome of the finished item. However, when there is a large amount of typos and misspellings, it can be annoying to many of us, especially those of us that are considered grammar and spelling sticklers. It also gives the user the impression that the pattern designer just threw the pattern together and put it up for sale without bothering to have others test it and make corrections.
- Sizing – This is two-fold. A statement was made that it appears to be laziness on the part of the designer if they market a hat as being in multiple sizes but when you get the pattern you are given just one or two actual sizes and then told to change the hook size to make it larger or smaller. The other issue mentioned was designers that break their child and adult sizes into two separate patterns thereby having the user purchase two patterns instead of one if they wish to sell the hat in every size.
- Clutter – If it’s not necessary, don’t do it. Rainbow colored fonts, single spacing, no division between sections, and pages of photo instruction are turn offs.
Now, while I was sitting here typing all of that up, other things popped into my head and then popped right back out. Ha ha! There are just so many things that make up a good pattern and there are so many things that can mess up a good pattern designer. Part of designing, in my opinion, is also about turning your artistic talents off for a little while and applying yourself to a little bit of technical writing. Boring? Yes, to me it is. Necessary? Yes, if you want to sell more patterns. Crocheters talk. Yes, we do. It’s not meant to be mean or catty or demeaning to any designer out there but we talk to each other because we don’t want someone else to feel like we do – like our money was just wasted on a pattern we will never use because it’s too frustrating to wade through it. Crocheting should be an enjoyable experience. Why else would anyone do it, especially as little as it pays if it is your source of income. (And if you are making a killing doing it, please pass the secret of your success on to me!)
And now I would love to hear your input. What would you add or subtract from the lists above? What is most important to you as a crochet enthusiast? Let’s hear it in the comments section. Ready? Go!