When I first started designing my own patterns, I did a little research into how to design knitting patterns. I wanted to see what knitting software other designers use to create their patterns.
It was, frankly, overwhelming. Over and over again, I kept seeing recommendations for expensive Adobe software and other knitting design software that I didn’t know how to use. I sure couldn’t justify spending the money on it.
But I was a lawyer, and I knew Microsoft Word inside and out—so that’s where I started.
I used tables to keep things organized, hid various borders on the tables to make them look less cluttered, played with margins and columns, and filled headers and footers. Eventually, I wound up with a pattern template that felt professional and usable.
It’s the pattern template I still use today, four years later.
Nowadays, I belong to several online communities of designers. Members run the gamut from extremely seasoned to brand new. Variations of this question pop up frequently: where do you design your patterns, and how can I avoid spending $53 a month on the Adobe suite?
Well, gather ‘round, friends. I’ve got three knitting design software options for you. Even better, they’re all cheaper than even a single InDesign subscription ($21 a month).
Design Knitting Patterns with Google Docs (Free ninety-nine, that is, $0, no cost, zip, zilch, nada)
Google Docs is part of the free suite of software that Google makes available to anybody with a Gmail address. If you’re looking to do a simple, streamlined pattern, Google Docs is all you really need. You can type up all the words, insert some tables, and include a few pictures.
Google Docs isn’t as robust as Microsoft Word (I liked this rundown of the similarities and differences between the platforms), but it has the significant advantage of being free free freeeeee. That’s definitely appealing when you’re just starting out and aren’t bringing in much money from pattern sales yet.
Design Knitting Patterns with Microsoft Word ($5 a month for web-only software, $12.50 a month for desktop apps)
Microsoft Word is still where I design my patterns, even after all these years. I find that with columns, tables, text wrapping around pictures, and the ability to insert headers and footers, Word is a flexible enough platform for my needs.
I use the desktop app, so I pay a little bit more. That’s worth it to me when I want to take my laptop to the beach and get a little work done where I won’t be distracted by the internet.
Design Knitting Patterns with Canva (Free for basic features, $13 a month for add-ons like sweet graphics)
I mostly use Canva for creating graphics to go along with my posts and Instagram stories, but I have several knitting designer friends who create their patterns using Canva. Canva has an easy-to-use interface that just involves dragging and dropping content boxes. If you’re new to things and want the simplest platform possible, Canva might be your best bet. Its basic version is free, so you can play around with it and see if you like it before you decide whether you want to upgrade to the paid version. Those graphics included in the paid version are pretty great, though, and I find they’re worth the cost to make really professional-looking images.
One last note: don’t let imposter syndrome derail you. You have an idea for a pattern, and you know how to write it up. All you need to do is figure out which platform to use. You can do this!