Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pattern Notation Polls- Results

I ran numerous polls a few weeks ago to see what folks are wanting in their pattern instructions & notations. Although these are not scientific, and they only represent the opinions of about 150 people, they do seem to accurately reflect what we are hearing on message boards.

The vast majority who responded are seasoned crocheters. These numbers do not reflect the voices of newbie crocheters who may not have learned how to read patterns, yet. Also, 70% of the respondents either learned to crochet first, or crochet is all they do. These numbers do not accurately reflect the attitudes for those who learned to knit first.

There were some points of interest; one that shocked me was that folks who took a class to learn crochet, did not learn how to read patterns in their class! Heads up, teachers, this should be something to include in your crochet classes.
See my blog post:
ARNie’s Theory of Teaching Crochet,
and my syllabus-

Another fact, that I really caught my attention is that the vast majority of folks- 77%- had to learn how to read patterns on their own! If the vast majority of folks are having to use nothing but their own skills to understand pattern notations, then yes, publishers must include more words than the simple stitch counts.

My results on several of the questions reflected a standard bell curve: a few advanced stitchers didn’t need many or any words at all, a few beginners wanted it all- words, pictures, graphs, schematics, but the majority of folks were satisfied with the current methods of writing crochet pattern instructions.

31% prefer either less words, or no words at all ie, symbols, charts and graphs. What surprised me was the high number of people - 21% - who prefer a pattern to read like a book, ie, lots of words to describe what to do.

However, a large enough number of crocheters preferred Schematics, charts and graphs with their patterns, to indicate that these could be something to offer, perhaps for an extra fee. This is one of those instances where I’m seeing that crocheters are recognizing the value of various pattern elements and are showing a willingness to pay more for them. Yet, when given a choice, they are still careful with their spending; those who responded to my polls, preferred to choose which various pattern elements they purchase.

Charts, graphs, and symbols appear to be ‘alien’ concepts to crocheters. A little less than half of the people (who responded) actually preferred symbols; yet, most of those that couldn’t read symbols- wanted to learn. Over half did not know how to read or just didn’t like graphs and charts.

One point showed some change from my polls two years ago: this time, more folks had learned to crochet from someone close to them- like a friend or family member; a smaller number were self taught. Now combine this with the fact that most of the folks had to learn to read patterns on their own, bolsters my belief that the reason crocheters need more words in their pattern instructions is because their stitching skills progress faster than their pattern reading skills. How can people learn to read patterns, if the person teaching them to stitch, had to learn on their own how to read patterns?

Another point that could substantiate this belief, is the fact that 71% of the respondents would take extra steps to work a pattern, no matter how difficult it was to read and understand. This could simply mean that crocheters are tenacious. It is more likely that crocheters would attribute their lack of understanding instructions to be their own weakness, and not that the pattern instructions were badly written.

The remaining poll questions were for the benefit of indie designers and publishers, and the statistics were so close, that I posted the numbers for everyone’s personal interpretation:

What patterns need Stitch Counts for each row?
Afghans & Blankets-complex or simple 42 (36%)
Straight Stitching Garments 26 (22%)
Complex Stitching Garments 69 (60%)
3 Dimensional projects 38 (33%)
Doilies 45 (39%)
I won't work a pattern without row counts. 26 (22%)
Althought there is a majority for Complex Stitching Garments, the remaining results are all so close in stats, that any one of them can't really be 'eliminated' from the list; which makes me believe they are all about equal in importance.

What should ‘Skill Level’ on a pattern designate?
Stitching Skills 40 (34%)
Pattern Reading Skills 32 (27%)
Complex pattern construction 70 (60%)
I hate those insulting labels. 20 (17%)
Although there is an obvious majority for Complex pattern construction, Stitching and Pattern Reading Skills are both individual crocheter's skills. When you add those two together, it does appear that a slight majority believe 'skill level' should reflect the crocheter's skills.

©Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved.For copyright permissions and more crochet fun, visit


Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed your polls. One thing I would really like to see on patterns is how many stitches (especailly the beginning chain) are needed to make the pattern repeat. It seems I always want a different size from what the pattern makes and sometimes it's hard to change and keep the pattern coming out right. Sometimes it will say 1 repeat =6" but that doesn't help. Thanks for letting me comment. ~Melody from Crochet Partners

ARNie said...

Oh, yes! Stitch Pattern = XX stitches...

Yes, I agree, it is important to include those if there are only one or two sizes included in the pattern.