How to Create a Knitting Pattern

How to Create a Knitting Pattern main article image
Posted on February 18, 2021 by Lyndsey Drooby

If you have been knitting for a while and have gotten the gist of following along various patterns, understanding the measurements and stitches needed to create a wonderful handmade design, maybe you’ve had the curiosity to test the waters of pattern creation of your own. It can be rewarding to learn to develop your own designs for your own purpose or to develop a line of patterns to sell around online. This article fully explains the steps its takes to create your own knitting patterns.

When following patterns, you may have noticed a basic structure that patterns have. The typical layout tends to consist of:

  • About the Pattern
  • Stitch Abbreviations
  • Pattern Stitches or Stitch Guide
  • Pattern Instructions

About the pattern

The first thing that kicks off the pattern creation is a title, like any piece of work. A title followed by your name as the designer and photos of the finished piece or the piece being worn by a model.

Next, the pattern romance is written. This is a unique name for what is a brief summary or story citing the inspiration behind the piece. Much like the way any designer breaks down their creation. The goal to this is to grab the interest of potential knitters who may want to try the pattern! This portion can also include some pattern notes that the knitter will find useful such as the order of construction.

The next important item for the pattern is to mention the tools and items needed. Needles, stitch markers and citations for types of yarn used are incredibly important.

Needle: List needles in ascending order in both US and mm sizes. Include length of circular needles and “or size needed to obtain gauge,” especially if the gauge is necessary to the project.

Yarns Used: Yarn Company name Yarn name (common yarn weight name; fiber content; yardage/weight per put-up (skein or ball, as appropriate): number of balls/skeins, color and color number (if available).

Needles: US 15-19 / 10-15 mm

Yardage: If pattern has multiple sizes, provide yardage for each size.

Once you have these, follow this example:

Woolfolk Hygge (Superbulky 50% Ovis 21 Ultimate Merino®, 28% Superbaby Alpaca, 22% Mulberry Silk). 76 yards / 70 meters / 100 grams. 6 skeins used. Gauge: 5.5-8.25 stitches / 9-18 rows

Gauge: Measure stitches and rows/rnds over 4 inches/10cm and specify pattern (St st, stitch pattern, color pattern, etc.) and needle size used (e.g. larger/smaller). Include multiple gauges if more than 1 pattern stitch is used in project (optional; include this if the gauge is crucial).  

For example:

Gauge: 20 sts and 28 rows per 4”/10cm in St. st. in larger needle. Save time and check gauge.

Other Notions: Stitch markers, stitch holders and cable needles should be mentioned here.  

Final Measurements: Include measurements after blocking the piece in inches (and centimeters). For patterns with multiple sizes, include the sizes, final bust measurements and the amount of ease. Also include which size the sample was knit in.

For example:

  • Sizes: xs[s, m, l, xl, xxl]
  • Final Measurements: Bust 32(36, 40, 44, 48, 52] inches. Model is wearing size S with 4” of ease.

Stitch Abbreviations

List all of the stitches you use in the pattern here. It can be daunting to repeatedly write “knit 1, yarn over, knit two together” so here is a list of the abbreviated stitches that make up the instructions of the pattern:

[ ] – work instructions within brackets as many times as directed 
( ) – work instructions within parentheses in the place directed
** – repeat instructions following the asterisks as directed
* – repeat instructions following the single asterisk as directed ” – inch(es) [used only on schematics] 
approx – approximately
beg – begin/begins/beginning
CC – contrasting color
ch – chain stitch
cm – centimeter(s)
cn – cable needle
dec(s) – decrease/decreases/decreasing 
dpn(s) – double-point needle(s)
g – gram(s)
inc(s) – increase/increases/increasing
k – knit
k2tog – knit 2 stitches together 
kfb – knit in front and back of a stitch 
kwise – knitwise
LH – left hand
m – meter(s) 
M1R – make 1 with right twist 
M1L – make 1 with left twist
MC – main color
mm – millimeter(s)
oz – ounce(s)
p – purl
p2tog – purl 2 stitches together
pat(s) – pattern(s)
pm – place marker
psso – pass slipped stitch over
pwise – purlwise 
rem – remain/remains/remaining 
rep(s) – repeat(s)
rev St st – reverse stockinette stitch 
RH – right hand 
rnd(s) – round(s)
RS – right side
skp – slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over—1 stitch decreased
sk2p – slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over the knit 2 together—2 stitches decreased 
sl – slip
sl 1 kwise – slip 1 knitwise
sl 1 pwise – slip 1 purlwise
sl st – slip stitch(es)
ssk – slip, slip, knit these 2 stitches together—a decrease
st(s) – stitch(es)
St st – stockinette stitch
tbl – through back loop(s)
tog – together
WS – wrong side
wyib – with yarn in back
wyif – with yarn in front
yd(s) – yard(s)
yfwd – yarn forward
yo (yo’s) – yarn over(s) 

Pattern Stitches/Stitch Guide

There are special stitches/stitches repeated in the pattern that are meant to create a specific design within the knitted piece. These should be specified as Rows or Rnds. It is important to give stitch multiples if necessary. Charts of pattern stitches may also be needed, especially when creating lace. You can add the chart here at this portion of the pattern or at the end. It is helpful to have all the pattern stitches listed here in order to refer to it in the pattern. 

For example:

Mesh Pattern

  • Row 1 (RS): Sl wyif, p1, k1, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, k2tog, yo, pm, p1, pm, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, yo, ssk, k1, p1, k1. 
  • Row 2 and all WS rows: Sl wyif, k1, p until marker, sm, k1, sm, p until last two sts, k2. 
  • Row 3: Sl wyif, p1, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, k2tog, yo, k1, sm, p1, sm, k1, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, yo, ssk, p1, k1. 
  • Row 5: Sl wyif, p1, k3, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, sm, p1, sm, [k2, yo, ssk] x 7, k3, p1, k1. 
  • Row 7: Sl wyif, p1, [k2, k2tog, yo] x 7, k3, sm, p1, sm, k3, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, p1, k1.

Pattern Instructions

There are a few things to keep in mind when finalizing the pattern and that is to always start with the cast on, especially if there are color or needle changes, mention which one to start with. Also note in the pattern where the appropriate part is when these changes need to take place. With that being said, also include stitch counts when it comes to increases and decreases.

Clear, concise instructions are crucial and make specific explanations if the knitter may have difficulty with a stitch. This can always be added in pattern notes or include video tutorials or other resources for the knitter to visit.

Capitalize the first letter of the row/rnd and use periods at the end of every instruction and sentence and if the piece has more than one section (sleeves, etc.) add section headlines to help guide the knitter along.

Use X[X, X, X] format for stitch counts and inches knit. You can add in how many rows such be worked, according to gauge.


When finishing a piece, mention the binding off of stitches and any other bits such weaving in ends, blocking pieces, sewing pieces together, adding borders, fringing, etc. Don’t forget to include any charts for specific stitch patterns or yarn color changes.

While getting used to writing other patterns, it doesn’t hurt to refer to your favorite patterns to understand the writing style and making sure your explanations are specific. When you have written your pattern, there is always the option of having other knitters test it out. If you are looking to eventually sell patterns online, making use of testers would be an important move to make. Here’s a great list to get started on where to find testers.

Finally, have fun with it! You’re venturing into new territory with your knitting, so enjoy and get creative!

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