How to use Knitting Pattern Schematics

Designing

Knitting schematics

When I started publishing my knitting patterns some years ago, I didn't include schematics. I gave written instructions, yarn recommendations, and plenty of photo illustrations at various relevant points throughout the pattern. I very soon realised that knitters want schematics! 

I started designing my own patterns in the 1980s and always used pencil, paper, measuring tape and calculator to work out my patterns and grade them (old school method, but still just as useful and brilliant!).

It is only recently that I have invested in some really neat software. There are only a couple of my patterns with hand drawn schematics still available because I can't bare to get rid of them! 😜 But all the rest have professional looking and accurately measured schematics now. 🤗

So what are schematics?

A schematic is the outline drawing of a knitted piece. The garment is made up of a number of knitted pieces and each schematic represents one piece of the whole.

A knitting chart, on the other hand, is different and will show a stitch, cable or colour pattern. Like so...

hand knitting pattern chart

Along the edges of a schematic you will be given the measurements of each section, or a reference to a measurement guide if the pattern is written for multiple sizes...such as in this one where the A,B,C etc refers to a chart which gives different measurements for each size....

knitting schematics
Diagrams in cms
  • A = 13.5/13.5/13.5
  • B = 7.3/9.5/12.5
  • C = 9.2/10/11
  • D = 13.4/13.5/14/
  • E = 6.7/6.7/7.1
  • F = 71.4/73.9/77.4
  • G = 43.5/46.8/51.1
  • H = 55/55.6/54.6
  • I = 20.3/21.9/25.9
  • J = 2.7/3.1/4

In this example, which is the front half of a jacket, the outline of the garment is printed in black, the measurement references in blue, and the model shape in green. In this way you can see how the garment will fit the model and the amount of ease allowed in the pattern. This is how I present all my schematics now.

Schematics are useful in that they show the overall structure at a glance, and if you, as the knitter, require alterations, you can use the schematics as your guide.

A lot of knitters, especially machine knitters, now use software to work out stitch and row counts for their choice of yarn, machine, and tension gauge. They then work from the software rather than the written instructions.

A pattern might recommend a certain yarn, and if the knitter uses that yarn then they can just follow the written instructions. But if they have chosen a different method of knitting or a different yarn, then they need a way to convert the knitting pattern. In these cases schematics are essential. The measurements are transferred into the software, the tension gauge is entered, and the software 'kicks out' the knitting instructions.

Of course, if you don't possess the software, then there are the original methods...those of which I have used for over 35 years. I shall be sharing them very soon!

Marianne x

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