3 Things I Look for When Picking a Pattern

It’s not something uncommon for me: to navigate through the endless sea of patterns to find the one that calls out to me. Finding a pattern I like is only half the battle – the other half is knowing if the pattern is right for me. I have been looking for a shawl pattern for some time now and I found the Yes, Yes Shawl pattern from Bernat. Next, I’ll put it through my own vetting process. The following are there three things that I look for when picking a pattern…

1. Level of Difficulty
It’s easy to get carried away by a picture. A project looks so perfect it may even take our breath away (ok, maybe that only happens just to me). What we want to make sure is that the pattern is within our level of experience. Typically, a pattern will Levels of Difficultyinclude an icon to indicate how difficult the pattern is and can range from Beginner to Experienced. Also, reading through part of the instructions can help us determine if the pattern is one we want to venture into. Make sure that you can understand the instructions as they are written. This particular pattern, has written instructions as well as a diagram which I personally prefer over written instructions (I will cover diagram patterns in a future post so stay tuned).

abbreviations and stitches2. Stitches Used
Hand in hand with tip #1, most patterns will have a list of stitches used. You can determine if the pattern is one you want to venture into by identifying those stitches. Patterns will also list if there are any special stitches that will be used throughout the pattern and how to complete them (ie, cluster stitch, bobble). In this example, the pattern gives me a list of abbreviations used, and not just a list of stitches. Because I am comfortable with all of the abbreviations and stitches listed, I might give this pattern a go.

3. Materials Needed
You want to know how much yarn the project is going to take. If a skein of yarn is about $6 each and it calls for 6 of them, are you comfortable will shelling over $36 (or even $42 if you want to play it safe and get 7 instead of 6). Also, the project Materials for shawlwill state what size you’ll need – is it a needle you have or will you need to go out and get it? For this pattern, I have a size G hook and because the pattern only calls for 2 balls of yarn – it will fall within my budget of what I’m willing to spend on a project.

Since this pattern meets my three criteria (within my level of experience, uses terms I know, materials needed are within my budget), I will go ahead and use it.  So ends my search for a pattern for a summer shawl.

As a final word of advice: if you find a pattern online that you love, print it as a PDF document onto your computer. You don’t want to run the risk of the pattern designer no longer hosting the pattern online if you try to access it again in the future. I have CutePDF Writer installed as one of my printers – I “print” the pattern, select CutePDF Writer as the printer, and then I get a PDF “print-out” that I am able to save on my computer.

Do you have any criteria for picking a pattern? Please share in the comments section.

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