To Gap or Not to Gap

I know it will be a small sample but I am very interested in any comments you may have about

  1. Whether you think one way of doing things is more correct?
  2.  Whether you find one way of doing things more to your taste?
  3. Does inconsistency, like that below, in patterns really bug you?

This applies with regard to adding or leaving out spaces in different circumstances, adding an ‘s’ for multiple stitches. e.g. 3trs and also what to write for slip stitch.

I have noticed in the past that I am not always consistent in the way I write my patterns and one of the things this applies to is using gaps between numbers and stitches.

I had decided that I would start creating pdfs for some of my more popular free patterns and include them on Ravelry instead of simply directing people to my blog.

Writing out the pattern for my Dice Bag come Tray in full. I suddenly realised that I wasn’t sure whether it was more correct to write (8 sts) or (8sts).

Then I started to think about whether it is more correct to write 3ch or 3 ch, or even 3chs or 3 chs.

Looking back on some of my patterns I can see all sorts of inconsistencies.


AnhHere I don’t use a space for 12sts but do on the next row for 24 sts.

So which is better?

Here there are inconsistencies for spacing with even the same sort of stitches. 6ch no space, 6 ch with a space.


I have come to favour the no space approach at least for chains and the various stitches but is that best?

Another example

As you can see: here I also add an ‘s’ for =2trs but 5tr has no ‘s’.

When I wrote the instructions for the circle of earth for my African Violets pattern, I was firmly of a belief that the ‘s’ was necessary.

Recently though when writing things like 3chs, I thought it looked wrong and removed all of the spaces except maybe in lines that were meant to be read conversationally but included abbreviations.

So is it better to add an ‘s’ or is 2dc just as correct and maybe clearer?

How to add instructions for slip stitches has had me increasingly anxious.

Originally I felt that I was used to ss in knitting patterns meaning slip stitch and so I used it in my crochet patterns,

But later I wasn’t sure if everyone would recognise it so I started using slst. Though there was the added question of whether it should be sl st with a gap.

In the end I became so uncertain that now I tend to write it out in full. (Notice the inconsistent pluralisation still).

What do you find clearest when describing a slip stitch?

At least my Spectrum blanket pattern that is the one most recently published is consistent as far as it goes.


I am still not sure though if the pluralisation in my Josephine knot bookmark isn’t actually correct as used here.All opinions welcome even if they are not all the same.


13 thoughts on “To Gap or Not to Gap

  1. I know the tendency to want to pluralize, but in a pattern it really isn’t necessary, I don’t think. Inconsistency has never really bothered me, but it probably is important to some. As for ss, I get it. I would put that in the key before the pattern, along with any other abbreviations. The space is not necessary, either. I think of dropping the “s” and excluding the space as a means just to save paper and ink for printing. I don’t see any other benefit to that, but it would seem to be a good habit to cultivate, just in case? Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. All useful comments. I have wondered to what extent people print patterns these days. I had a time when I used to make sure I had a printable version with no pictures, even used a different font, as I had read that serifed fonts were better for printed copies and sanserif better for screen reading. Since I have more often used patterns on my tablet, I have tended to just have the one copy in the same font. Something to think about maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a former newspaper check-sub, I understand your pain! 😀 So, FWIW: I prefer 2ch — no space, no extra s. For the most part, st suffices, rather than stitch or stitches, since what the crocheter wants to know is how many, not what. Although ss is easily understood, I prefer sl st. Why? Because a crocheter zooming through a row might miss ss, but that tiny space between sl and st is enough to slow the eye down. Even if the brain doesn’t consciously register it, your point is made. Of your two benchmarks, clarity and consistency, clarity has to dominate because you want your readers to feel happy and confident while they’re working. If you find yourself worrying about consistency, you might try contacting Crochet, where I see you’ve published, to see if they have a crochet pattern stylebook. That would give you a reference when you’re in doubt. Not that I think you need it; your patterns are admirably clear, as well as being just plain fun. Thanks for being such a thoughtful designer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not the right person to as this of as I prefer to buy patterns from tried and tested sources. So my comments do not apply specifically or in anyway to you.
    I find online patterns very hard to follow, they are too long and complicated, and occasionally have mistakes, Rightly or wrongly I think pattern writing is a learned skill, and even commercial patterns go astray, especially when multi sized or they have attempted to cram everything onto one sheet, Thinking of the issues I had with the Highland cow.
    So I suggest keep patterns as simple and brief but unambiguous as possible and printable.
    I am sure others will help more, good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think in my experience I have found mistakes in published patterns as often as online ones. This means I am more shocked when I find them in published ones, as, like you, I expect a higher standard. I do try very hard to be unambiguous even if it means more words, as I am very prone to seeing ambiguities where I am sure none was intended. Never sure if I should copy commercial patterns in explaining everything. It’s much easier in a book for instance to explain how to make each stitch with pictures. Thank you for you comment. Good to get different perspectives.


    1. Thank you. I think I am going to resist the temptation to go back and check all my patterns for extra gaps or other inconsistencies but am trying to set a standard for going forward.
      Typos are so easy to miss. When a BBC Model B was a familiar home computer, I used to type up and print essays for assessment and I would read them through correct mistakes and reprint. Every time I would find another mistake, so would reread ……… and so on. Had to stop at some point.
      These days, I find myself noticing mistakes in the books I borrow from the library. Often enough to make me feel it is a universal failing.


  4. I read your pattern examples and could understand them all, regardless of gaps, punctuation, plurals and so on but am not ‘technical’ enough to comment on what is considered to be the correct style. I don’t think I’d notice inconsistency in a pattern though, as am too busy feeling pleased with myself in managing to understand one!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I recently bought the Handbook of Crochet Stitches: The Complete Illustrated reference to Over 200 Stitches by Betty Barnden
    She has a really comprehensive explanation about pattern writing. It’s a brilliant book.
    I think, personally that as long as you note in a summary/key what your preferred abbreviations are it’s fine.

    Liked by 1 person

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