Instructions: The make or break of my sanity

The past few weeks I have been doing some pattern testing for a few companies, which has been extremely exciting and fun. But has drawn my attention to the importance of instructions, and how these can influence the outcome of a project.

When you are familiar with a craft instructions become more of a guide than a hand-holding through the project. However what happens when you start a new craft when the hand-holding is important and when a successful project can draw you further in to learning more, or an unsuccessful project can deter you for some time. In my recent experience it is a test of my sanity and patience.

The patterns I have been testing have made me realise that they assume you know techniques with very little information if you are new to the craft/technique, they also use jargon that isn't referred to, and most annoying of all very few use images/diagrams which drives me mad (if you are a creative person an image is far more valuable than words will ever be). Not only are these things frustrating but they have left me searching the internet for technical advice and help (which if nothing else has directed me to good reference sites - I shall share these at a later date).

So after hours procrastinating  and doing some research into different craft instructions on the internet and in my craft cupboard, I have come up with what would make the ideal instructions (well for me anyway):

1. The more instructions the better. Don't overcomplicate things by trying to squeeze too much information into one instruction this can be overbearing, but if you can break things down further in a simple way do (it will definitely help me to stay calm)

2. Add images to instructions - sometimes it is far easier to understand when you can visualise it

3. Hints and tips are extremely useful when talking about techniques

4. Weblinks and reference sites are always useful

5. Include a glossary (who knew so many craft acronyms are also 'sexy' I'm still a bit shaky after this)

6. Most of all assume the reader doesn't know anything (lots of instructions I have assume the reader knows everything possible in that craft area - if only I had the time to)

What are your experiences of instructions?


  1. As a writer of knitting and crochet patterns rather than tutorials I am lucky that there is a wealth of predefined terms available to my craft that make it easier to accurately describe rather complicated actions.

    I think you can overcomplicate by adding too much instruction if you aren't careful because by reiterating a point you can confuse someone into doing something repeatedly. Also I completely turn off if someone is trying to explain something I already know in lengthy detail and then I miss out on a bit I didn't actually know because I have skip read.

    I laughed very hard at point 5!

    1. I think I'm scared for life - i'm grateful that I can clear my history.

      I think it is so hard to get a balance on instructions and you are right when I read something I know i definitely skip read and it has ended up endlessly unravelling knitting