Understanding Pattern Schematics

Knitting pattern schematics

Schematics are one of those pattern pieces that often cause one to say, “What do I do with this?” What looks like a simple, useless drawing is actually an extremely handy tool that ensures knitting success!

Think of pattern schematics as a blueprint of your project, a visual representation of what you are making long before you ever make it. This tutorial is going to walk you through exactly how to use it from start to finish.

Direction of Knitting

Before starting any pattern, head over to the schematic so that you can see exactly how it is constructed. Perhaps the front and back are worked flat, but the sleeves are working in the round? The schematic is going to show you those details so that you aren’t suddenly surprised later on (for those moments such as, “Oh, so THAT’S what the double-pointed needles were for. I wish I had thought to pick some up!”). For flat items, the image typically shows each piece that is to be seamed, though you might occasionally find the front and back superimposed, especially if they are worked similarly.

Final Measurements

You are going to see a LOT of numbers on your schematic, but those numbers let you better understand the fit of the final garment. In flat pieces, the measurements are before seaming (usually), but always (always!) indicate the finished (washed and blocked) measurements. Ahem… that means you cannot count your working stitch gauge here. Circular projects will show you circumference measurements, as opposed to widths.

Shaping Elements

Now, let’s see how the shape of things are looking … how dramatic is the waist shaping? Does the neckline look too wide compared to the shoulders? Are there any angles that might look weird? Take notice of the measurements for your size and think about how it’ll fit on your body. Perhaps you think the neckline is too low or the sleeves too long? This first look gives you the opportunity to adjust things for your own body type.

Make the Decisions

Now that you’ve examined the schematic, you are easily in control of the pattern! Based on the measurements and shaping, you can then decide what size will really fit your body type. You also have the chance to make adjustments to suit your personal needs (such as working a shorter length in the hips so as to move the waist down a little bit or working the armhole length a little longer to ensure a more comfortable depth). If you want to make any other changes, you’ll easily be able to by penciling in your desired measurement and working a little bit of math for the pattern. FYI: There are a number of apps now to help you do this, such as Knit Figures. The schematic, as plain as it is, really is the window to your final piece and a critical element to consider.

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