Writing clear, concise instructions

Behind the scenes of The Designing Day, there is much more that goes on than just playing with yummy yarns and knitting all day. A large part of the non-glamorous work is that of writing instructions for patterns that will be published. When mentoring a new designer a while back, she put this so well: “It is much more complicated to get everything down in writing than I thought.”

Writing clear, concise, yet complete pattern instructions is an art and science in itself. It’s a balance of getting down all the technical details, anticipating the next question, and laying out information so that the instructions seem “effortless”.

Interestingly, I have found that writing for the experienced knitter can actually be a greater challenge than the less-experienced.┬áBeginner knitters tend to take written instructions more literally (i.e. they don’t twist things around to conform to what they think the instructions should say). Experienced knitters read the instructions, but somewhere on the way from the page to the brain, the information gets filtered and is transformed into something else because of their “experience”.

The more experienced a knitter is, chances are the firmer their mindset of one way of “looking at things”. If there isn’t an obvious cue in the pattern to jog them into paying attention, they can overlook or misinterpret an important technical detail they are not familiar with despite their many years of knitting the same thing. Or even to overcomplicate an otherwise straight-forward process (that a relative beginner just breezes through).

This is one reason that I usually am hesitant to tag a pattern with a “skill level”. Sometimes I wonder if there should instead be something like a “mental alertness level”?

Written by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer - Visit Website

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