As a crochet Pattern designer, I do not want to encourage you to create your own crochet patterns. I want you to buy and use MY crochet patterns. As a fellow artist, though, I get so exited with the prospect of a budding crochet designer and I want to help you all succeed! As with any craft, though, Crochet is very personalized. I have never seen two artists who hold their yarn and hook the same way. I think it’s great! Two people can be following the same pattern and still have very different results, especially if they apply their own artistic interpretation. So, while I’m going to give you my outline of designing a new crochet pattern, this method may not work for you at all.
Step 1: the idea
Probably the most important part of designing is knowing what you are going to be designing. It is impossible to sit down with hook and yarn and start crocheting and just *poof*, it’s a perfect Amigurumi puppy! No, that doesn’t happen. Have at least captured the ghost of an idea of what you want to make. It doesn’t have to be concrete, or set in stone, and you might not even be able to picture it in your head yet, and that’s ok.
I’m going to use my most recent pattern as an example. I’ve decided this year to make a bunch of smaller, Kawaii-styled (or emoji-like) toys and collectibles. Simple patterns that I can whip out in 2-3 days. That is my idea. I don’t even necessarily know exactly what I’m going to be making, but there are guidelines for me to follow for my next step: research.
Step 2: research
Has anyone made something like your idea before? Get on etsy, Pinterest, and google, and search some keywords. Find some inspiration, discover if you are creating something very original, or if there is a foundation pattern that you can build off of. Don’t copy someone else’s crochet pattern…that’s just asking for trouble. But, don’t be afraid to utilize the greats that have come before you, either. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
So, I get daily emails from a national day calendar company. And I’ve decided to use these as my idea of what to create. January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. What is better for Handwriting than pencils and paper?! Part of the research is automatically done for me in this instance when I read the email. But then, I get online and I start searching “crochet Pencil pattern” and “crochet notebook paper” and I get quite a few hits. Not enough to deter me from creating my own, but enough for me to establish what I like and don’t like of each pattern presented. Research completed.
Step 3: know the elements
In order to design your own patterns properly, and save yourself a ton of frogs, you must know how the different crochet stitches interact with each other to create different shapes. That taller stitches like dc may work up quicker, but they leave too big of gaps between stitches to be good Amigurumi elements. You need to know that strategically placing increases and decreases can create bubbles or pockets, curves and bumps in a garment. That stuffed animals are usually completed in the round, while blankets are best worked in ROWs.
My pickles needed bumps. I needed to know how to make bumps and it needed to be simple enough that I could teach or show someone else how to do it. That was an element of that particular pattern that I needed to know how to make myself in order to write the pattern for someone else to follow.
Step 4: record
Write it down. This is the fun part! I like to utilize my iPad or computer because it’s easier to backspace. I’ve also used pen and paper in the past, or as my circumstances dictate. Regardless of how you choose to record it, it is important to write as you go and correct as you need to. Do not rely on your memory.
Very rarely can I just whip out a new pattern without any frogging. More often than not, I will rework ROWs and RNDs several times before I get it just right. Sometimes, I might make the pattern to completion, and there’s just something “off” about it, so I’ll rework the whole pattern. I’m trying to make some ear warmers right now and I just can’t seem to get them right. I think I’ve reworked it four times already. So, be patient with the process, and don’t stress if you need to step away from it and come back later with fresh perspective.
Step 5: test
Rework the pattern at least once for yourself. Check the numbers and counting. Use stitch markers. Make the wording as easy to follow as you possibly can. Remember: you want to create something that is duplicateable. Then, for more complicated patterns, utilize other people as testers. They can catch spelling mistakes, inconsistencies, and confusing wording that you will miss. Don’t fret, you don’t have to pay them. There are plenty of people willing to test patterns for you for free. Just ask around.
From experience, if one tiny part of your pattern is wrong, people are gonna be confused. I’ve had a final row count that was off by 3-4 numbers, and getting an email of a very confused customer. Just because you can “make it work” doesn’t mean that other people are capable of doing that as well. So, get the numbers right, and make sure that the hdc’s and the dc’s are all where they need to be.
Step 6: photograph
Such a vital part of designing crochet Patterns is taking the pictures. Not only do you need the final product picture to entice buyers and followers, but it’s an excellent idea to take as-you-go pictures to help people follow along with you. Natural, indirect lighting, simple backdrop, no distractions. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with the yarn and hook. Pictures are always a good idea!
I’ve actually developed a nifty little system for taking as-I-go pictures for my crochet patterns. I’ve got a western-facing window by my workspace, and will open the curtains to let in the natural, indirect light. My iPad can take excellently detailed close-ups, especially with a couple of lenses attachments. And with a bit of neutral-colored fabric, my stage is set! Don’t be afraid to invest in resources that will help you out.
Step 7: publish
Pick your online platform and publish your crochet pattern. I utilize Etsy, Ravelry, and craftsy, but I’m sure that there are others that are excellent! Also: because I work primarily on my iPad and with erstwhile I have to use an app called “compress pdf”, and I export from pages. Once the file has been downloaded, I then have to send it to my iPad’s files (the cloud), where I can then access it from the Etsy browser (through Safari). It’s an involved process, but not a difficult one. Figure out what it takes to get your pattern where you need it to be so that your customer can get to it.
I also publish free crochet patterns on the blog from time-to-time. This requires copying, pasting, downloading most of the images, positioning the images, and reformatting a lot of times. Equally an involved process. But, my favorite thing about making patterns is that once the work is done, apart from answering a few questions (and maybe updating it), you never have to mess with again. It will continue to bring in revenue with very little effort on your part. One and done.
So, there you have the Family Bugs system for creating new crochet patterns. Have you used this system to success? Do you have your own system for creating new patterns? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
And if you have any additional questions about designing your own crochet pattern, I’m sure we can help you out with those, too.