As someone who started knitting back in the early 90s and always made things for hats or cardigans for preemies or scarfs. I didn’t care about schematics, like why does it matter? Then I started to crochet in the early 2000s, again making blankets. So, why did I need a schematic, they aren’t useful are they!
The first garment I made for myself was in 2004 which was a pattern from a yarn company and I don’t even believe I looked at the schematic on the page. I spoke to my LYS and she helped me pick the size and away I went. It fitted – although doesn’t look like it fits in the picture but more on that later on. After doing a couple of garments like that, I realised I never wore those sweaters. Over the years of trying, I’ve realised that for me, I need to start with the schematic as the first point of call for any garment.
What the heck is a Schematic and what should it look like?
A schematic is a simplified diagram that is a visual representation of the item that you are making. It includes relevant measurements or markings to a table to check. This helps show off all the information that someone can use before starting a project to be able to see which size would work for them and how it would fit and whether they need to make any adjustments.
A schematic can look different depending on what you want and how you would like it to look. Something to consider is how your branding and pattern looks. Depending on how you already show yourself off, will depend on how it looks.
The first type is a flat-lay photo with the information on it. One thing to remember is that you will either need to cut out the image or have it on a neutral background so that you can see the numbers/letters that you use.
The second type is a basic line drawing which is just a 2D representation with just the details that matter.
The final type is a beautiful illustration of your item. Which can have more detail in it but still includes the details that matter.
You can on these schematics include the measurements or decide to give the information letters so that they can then use the look-up table. This sometimes is helpful, especially when you have a lot of sizes so that it doesn’t look cluttered.
It should always be shown in pieces unless it’s a seamless item. Each separate knitted piece should have its own diagram. You can then decide to show the item seamed together as well. This information helps give people some information that they otherwise wouldn’t
How can I make a Schematic?
You’ve decided you want a drawing and not a photo. That makes sense, that’s generally how it’s done. You have options on this.
Now, you can decide that you know how to do this and are going to do it yourself. Fabulous, you go and do it!
The next method is you want to do it yourself but you’re not too sure how to do it and you want to learn. Check out the Tech Editor hub as they have courses on how to create your schematic on either your tablet or in Inkscape. When you get either course you get some pre-made schematics as well. Here’s a link to the courses.
You could employ me to create your basic schematic. I made the basic one above and can send that over in whatever format you need. Here’s a link to my information.
If you want a beautiful illustration of your schematic. You could employ someone like Becky Monahan who made the beautiful one above and you can find more information on her website https://beckymonahan.com/. You can check out more schematics on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/MonahanTechEdit/
1. Schematics creates clear communication with the measurements
A schematic shows clearly where the measurements are that you are talking about. There is no debate about where measurement is measured from the top of the shoulder or the bottom of the neck or wherever that is.
The measurements that should be included are all relevant. This will change depending on the item you are making and also whether it is seamed or not seamed. These are generally the items that you would have needed to grade for each size.
These items would include the following for a sweater/cardigan/top:
- Full chest circumference (could be back width and front panel width)
- Full hip or waist circumference (if different from chest circumference)
- Upper arm circumference (or arm width if flat)
- Wrist circumference (or wrist width if flat – or if shorter sleeves, lower sleeve circumference)
- Neck circumference (or width)
- Arm Length (where from is always useful)
- Armhole Depth
- Total Body Length
- Length from Underarm to Hem
2. Schematics help show fit and therefore we can be more accurate!
Have you heard of those patterns that knitters complain about as they fit terribly in certain places? Now, I can bet if people could have seen the information ahead, they could have seen that it would never have fitted them they would have placed their money into someone else’s hands. Especially when the only information they can gain from the sales page and then the pattern is the chest/bust measurement. Ok, how does the size of my bust make a decision about the rest of my body?
Also, a reminder that people’s preferences of fit in certain parts of the body are different. There is a designer that likes a slim sleeve, which I’m not a fan of personally, I like a little more ease. They also like more ease in the body than I care for. Therefore, if I did reduce the size body then I have to work out how I was going to figure out the changes to the arms. I have to decide whether I want to spend the time making all the modifications.
Instead, I think it would be better to find another designer. Someone who has more of my style and shape. Now, will I buy a garment design from this designer, knowing this information? No. That’s ok, as I’m not the right person for them, I won’t enjoy the experience and as I’ve decided all the modifications it will probably be fine but it won’t be the same.
3. Schematics help make items customisable
Now having information available makes it useful for people to be able to customise their garments. The main thing is that a person can measure themselves easily and then make any alterations that they need. For example, in general, I need to add a few extra inches to the length from underarm to hem. It’s great to know how many inches, mainly as I can then work out how much extra yarn I need. If there’s waist shaping, it will need to be moved. That’s then something I need to consider.
As we are all individuals with very different bodies and no grading table fits us exactly but puts us in a suggested size. It means that knowing the information means we can make a decision for ourselves. The bonus of creating our own items is that we can tweak them to fit us better. If there is no schematic, we have to guess every section and hope that it fits. I know that we can frog our items but why do that if it could have been avoided in the first place?
4. Schematics can help you sell your pattern
There are 2 places that a schematic go. One, I always see which is on the pattern. Either in the information near the beginning or at the end in the finishing instructions.
The second place is on the sales page. This can be done in several different ways, you can either make the information a picture so that you can upload that to the picture section. Or you can make it a free download in a lookbook or informational pdf with all the information that could help someone.
Now you say but “I don’t want to put the Schematic on the Sales Page?”
So, I’ve told you to add the information to your Sales page and you’ve gone and taken a look at other designer’s sales pages (including some of the biggest designers that I can think of) and they don’t. You are now questioning me on why don’t they but I’m saying you should add it. Some designers believe that giving people information means that they will be able to work out the pattern from the information given to them on the sales page. They happily include the Chest circumference and ease but nothing else.
Now I’m going to take you to another craft for a minute. Sewing – go and take a look at their patterns, do you see a schematic? The answer is probably yes. Nearly every designer, indie or the big companies show you the schematics and all measurements. This means that someone can take a look before buying.
Surely knowing that information means people can work out the whole pattern beforehand surely like in knitting. Yes, there will be some people who will attempt to recreate your pattern for free. Guess what though, they would try anyway. They are not the customers you want. Most people will not attempt to do this, they will happily buy the pattern, especially as now you are being helpful before they buy the pattern. Now you’ve created your happy customer who made a choice about your pattern and could see the information that they needed. Guess what? They will probably come back again as you’ve given them a good starting experience!
5. Schematics can help with Accessibility
I say this and I will start with that yes it can help some people but won’t help others.
Schematics can help people who struggle with information in chunks as it shows them in a visual manner the information that they need. This can help people who are neurodiverse, some people who have visual difficulties (although yes, it definitely won’t help everyone), and people who English (or the language your pattern is in) isn’t their first language. Visual representation can help overcome the barrier of language difficulties!
6. Schematics helps the Community
Another reason is it helps the community as a whole. As a community, the focus over the last couple of years is being size inclusive. Now, some designers do a great job at this and some struggle for different reasons. Now, showing a schematic can help show that you are size inclusive.
It can show that you know how to grade your patterns correctly as well. The schematic can show people that you are at least doing the bare minimum to fit the community as a whole and not just the standard sizes – although what really are the standard sizes? The bare minimum is using the Craft Yarn Council sizing chart of 30-60”. If you aren’t covering that range, then you can’t consider yourself size-inclusive. I know it can be tricky at the outer ranges to get the data but that’s getting help from people to help you as well as using all the information you have.
I want to remind you that some crafters now look at the range and will make a decision about whether they will make the item even if it fits them. They are trying to be helpful to the members of the community that aren’t catered for.
7. Schematics can help decisions about who you want to Collaborate with
This reason may sound a bit odd. I want you to think about your business and what values you have in it. Say your business focuses on being eco-friendly and it’s highly important to you. Now someone you want to collaborate with doesn’t have any information about being eco-friendly. Would you decide to work with them or would you look for someone else? Ok, you’ve decided to email them even if that annoys you as you just wanted to be able to see it and then they don’t email you back what then, how long do you wait? You move along, well I would!
So, ok back to where schematics fit in. You want to work with someone and their number 1 value is about being size inclusive. The easiest way to show them that I’m size inclusive is by having my schematics available to people easily. They can see this on every sales page without having to ask. It makes it easy for someone to say, yes let’s work together as they can see the values you have are the same as there’s.
There we have it. It’s time that all designers showed this one important piece of information. I want you to instead of following what everyone has done before and ask why aren’t you doing it. Why are you not willing to give that information over to your customer? What will you do if they send you a message or comment on your post? Will you give it or will you hold it like it’s a classified document that no one should ever know? Think about all the other things that we have changed in the fibre world. What did they do that made it worse?