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The Secret to Writing a Great Style Sheet (and why your patterns need one)

So, what is a style sheet anyway?

Think of it as a map for making sure one of your patterns matches the next in wording and visual appearance. It is a collection of preferences that you use in formatting your patterns to create a cohesiveness in your brand.


Do I really have to have a style sheet?

No, it isn’t essential to have a style sheet but it is pretty important. Having one will help you create a consistent look and feel for your patterns that will become a vital part of your brand. It will speed up the procedure of writing a pattern since you will be able to reuse some of the information in every pattern. A style sheet will also make the process of tech editing easier since your editor won’t have to keep asking questions about the pesky details of pattern writing, like where you like commas.


What do you put in a style sheet?

Your style sheet will include quite a few parts of your basic pattern. It will include the elements that affect the basic look of your pattern as well as the pertinent information that the knitter will need to successfully complete the pattern. Here are the basic things that you need to include in your style sheet.

Basic layout

  • Preferred fonts and colors (choose something easy to view in both print and electronic format).
  • Where elements will be positioned on the page and within the pattern (what order do you want the size, materials, gauge, needles, etc.)
  • Cover page layout (photos, title, romance text and/or essential pattern information)

Essential information

  • Sizing information
  • Ease and/or fitting suggestions
  • Materials (yarn, needles, notions)
  • Gauge (including stitch pattern)
  • Abbreviations
  • Necessary skills or skill level

Pattern instructions

  • Construction notes
  • Stitch patterns
  • Main pattern instructions (together or divided by section)
  • Charts
  • Finishing notes

Extra bits

  • Page numbering, revision date, etc.
  • Copyright information
  • Contact information
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the designer

This is scary. Where do I start?

The good news is you don’t have to do everything all at once. The better news is that there is help available. A great place to start is to look at books and magazines. Though patterns in books and magazines may be terser than you like, you will still see the items that are needed and the importance of having things look alike from pattern to pattern. Online magazines, like Knitty and Knotions, are another great resource. You can find the Knitty style sheet here: [Knitty Submission information (style sheet is just under the mailing list sign up for)] and the Knotions style sheet here: [Knotions Submissions information (look for the Submissions guide link)]. Next, review pattern layouts from patterns that you like, paying special attention to the things that appeal to you.  Finally, don’t be forget to ask your tech editor for assistance with the process.

The Secret

The secret about writing a great style sheet is that it really isn’t difficult. A style sheet is only a collection of things you know instinctively and may be doing automatically. Writing down these things will make sure you write your patterns the same way every time. These resources will be your guide to building your own style sheet and taking your knitting and crochet patterns to the next level. Best of all, you don’t have to have a complete and perfect style sheet before you begin writing patterns. Simply start the process. Every decision you make can be put into action immediately. Then you can build on that decision with another decision and another decision until you will have your own style sheet.

Happy writing!


PS: If you are really stumped, feel free to contact me for help putting together your style sheet. I am even working on a handy checklist.

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