How to Design a Crochet Pattern – 23+ Tips & Tricks
23+ Tips and Tricks to Become a Crochet Designer and Making a Crochet Pattern
Making Crochet Patterns is a rewarding hobby that can become a career! I never thought I would be a crochet pattern designer, but here I am! When I say career, I don’t type that lightly, this has become a job (that I love) and helps to support my family. So to answer another question, can you make money designing crochet patterns? Yes, being a crochet designer can generate an income! Here are 23+ Tips and Tricks to get started!
It started when I picked my hooks up again in 2016 and couldn’t find any patterns I wanted to make. I started making crochet patterns before I realized that there was a big online community of crochet pattern designers! After years of writing my own crochet patterns I have learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way that I would like to share with you about crochet pattern making!
1. Finding Inspiration
Looking for inspiration to design a pattern in crochet can be as simple as flipping pages in a fashion magazine or walking through a mall or more abstract such as pulling an idea from nature. Think out of the box, you don’t want to copy an idea, so try to be original. DO NOT look for inspiration from other crochet designers.
2. Work in One Size
In the beginning I wasn’t comfortable grading a pattern, so my first few crochet designs were one size. Think scarves, blankets or dish towels. This will help you to get used to keeping track of what you did to make your item without worrying about math and multiples for sizing.
Then, as you become more comfortable, try writing these patterns in more sizes. That dish towel can also be a washcloth and a blanket can be offered in baby, throw, Afghan and more!
3. Use a Simple Stitch and Row Repeat
When you first begin to design a crochet pattern there is a lot more involved than you may realize! So keep the stitches simple! Remember, you have to write out how you made your entire item and give accurate measurements and yardage. It’s more simple to do these things with one stitch to start. Changing stitches can affect your gauge and the amount of yarn used for different areas of your pattern.
4. Use a Simple Shape
Just like the last tip, there is more to a crochet pattern design than most people are aware of. Getting to that final PDF or blog post is a task, so keeping to a simple shape will make your first crochet design easy. Wether a garment or home decor, you would be surprised how much you can make out of a rectangle!
5. Work Small
You know what’s not fun? Frogging. Especially on a large item. Sometimes what we have in our head doesn’t work out as planned and we have to start our crochet designs over. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too large of an item that you won’t want to make again if needed. I have a few garments that haven’t been written up since the fit was wrong and I didn’t want to start over. They were honestly beyond my capabilities at that point.
6. Avoid Increases and Decrease
Using increases and decreases in crochet pattern design can be tricky. When you are making something for the first time without a pattern trying to add increases and decreases can be a headache. Figuring out how and where is a guessing game, especially if you are using a more advanced stitch combination.
7. Stitch dictionary
Invest in stitch dictionaries and pattern books! These will be your best friend for making crochet patterns. Books that have been published have been edited so they’re written correctly, which is a great reference. Also, they’ll have great pictures of the stitches, making it easier for you to visualize the stitch on your project! I love crochet design books, here is a blog post about my favorite crochet books!
8. List Ideas
List, list, list! I have notes in my phone, on my desk, on my computer, everywhere, of crochet ideas and concepts. You can’t always count on your memory, so write it down! Just a simple phrase to jog your memory until you get my next tip on how to be a crochet pattern designer!
9. Sketch Designs
Take your list making a step further and be sure to sketch out ideas that you have when creating a crochet pattern. On your list you might write something as simple as “puff stitch cardigan” but a sketch can go into more detail so you know exactly what it is you were thinking when you thought of it.
I have really fallen in love with sketching my crochet designs on my iPad. The app I use is Adobe Fresco and once I have a solid idea in my head I do a proper sketch and even use the color picker to make it as accurate as possible. These are a few of my sketches, click on them to go to the finished croceht pattern design!
10. Pick a Color Pallet
Picking a color palette may sound like a strange tip to have when it comes to writing a crochet pattern, but it’s amazing what color can do for a design! You have to think of what might catch the readers eye but also what will photograph well. Personally, I do not like photographing bright white, if I ever use white its just a tiny bit and I make sure to take photos on overcast days.
On the subject of color, color trends are also something to look at when designing your crochet patterns. Certain colors will be in style for certain seasons and you may want to choose your color accordingly. How you choose that color is up to you but you may want to pick what’s trending or you may want to pick something completely different to try to stand out. More on that in text tip for becoming a crochet pattern designer.
11. Look at Color Trends
I’ll be the first to admit, some years I can’t stand what’s been deemed “trending” but it’s something to keep in mind. You have to find a balance between staying true to your style or brand but also taking into consideration what people will be looking for. Remember the everyone was loving grey and neutrals? I was on board there, once it went to neons I just couldn’t do it!
While I might not like the color that that has been deemed in style, it is important to really take color into consideration. Colors draw people in, they grab their attention and the literally stir up emotions. Diving into this further may be something worth doing for our business.
12. Look at Properly Written Patterns
When I first started designing my own crochet patterns, I did not know that there was a set standards to be followed. It seems as though every free pattern I looked at online was written differently. Initially, I believed that meant you could write a pattern however you wanted. It wasn’t until I began designing for companies and working with a tech editor that I realized that there are standards for crochet pattern writing. Check out the Craft Yarn Council for more information.
One of the biggest mistakes I have made when I started designing my own crochet patterns was not swatching. I’ll be honest even now I don’t always swatch, however it depends on the type of project I am making. Swatching is important to make sure that your project will be the correct size.
Making a crochet swatch isn’t just about sizing.You can learn a lot by making a crochet swatch, such as how much yarn you will need to complete a project. Sometimes, I only have a few balls of yarn I would like to crochet with and I will literally make a swatch, measure AND count my stitches. Then do the math to see how big I can make something and how many stitches I can get from one skein of yarn…no I am not joking.
I’ve rarely ever frog (not because everything I make comes out perfect) because I don’t like doing it. However, knowing when to frog when designing a crochet pattern is very important because your sample needs to be correct in order to accurately write a crochet pattern. There are times when you can finish your sample and adjust your original estimated gauge off of the finished sample.
15. Experiment with Style
Style is some thing I feel like I still do not have. Although, I have been told many times in the past people know when a design is mine because it has my style. What it is I have no idea! Style can be many things, from the colors you work with to the types of stitches you use.
16. Make What You Know
This may sound silly, but start by making what you know. If you are comfortable working with granny squares consider making your first crochet design using those. The reason for this is because by making what you know is going to remove a lot of the guesswork so that you can focus on properly writing a pattern. Then try writing the pattern and see if you are able to write every step and once it’s written follow the pattern again yourself.
17. Take Notes
I can’t stress this one enough. I know it’s nice to start and just keep crocheting, but pause and take notes. Write down what size hook, how many stitches, how many rows, take measurements along the way. Take pictures too! You’ll want to use notes to look back on when you are writing your pattern or if testers have a question.
18. Always Use Gauge
You have to, have to, have to use gauge when you write a pattern. It is so important to give a proper gauge for many reasons. Gauge is what will make it so that someone else can make their item the proper size, have the correct amount of yarn, or be able to adjust their item size. Think of gauge as a baseline to start, otherwise you lose consistency. If your finished gauge does change you can easily take measurements of the finished item to see if it is consistent and use that in your pattern.
19. Have Testers
Testers are so important, especially when you are first starting out! You can have a few testers on something simple like a blanket or a washcloth but a wearable is different. When designing something to be worn, it is so important to have your design tested to be fitted on other body types and sizes. Again, this is somewhere the the Craft Yarn Council comes in really handy because they have standard body measurements.
20. Have a Tech Editor
This one took me a long time to get on board with…why? Because I thought that I could find all of my own mistakes…wrong! Maybe when a pattern is simple enough you can do a pretty good job, but when you get into more complicated patterns like garments, you really need that extra set of eyes.
Finding a good tech editor is definitely one of the most important things to do as a crochet designer. If at first you don’t have the extra funds to hire a tech editor ask a fellow crocheter to take a look at your crochet pattern. This is another reason why becoming part of the crochet community (another tip below) is so important, to help each other!
21. Make Other Designers Patterns
This is necessary for a ton reasons. First, it’s always good to start somewhere to see how a pattern is written and laid out by a designer or company. It’s also helpful to make note if this is a pattern published on a blog or to a “professional” website like say Mary Maxim (free pattens). This is important since it will help you to distinguish if that pattern is written to meet certain standards. Secondly, it’s good for the community. So many of us designers are independent creators and by others making and then sharing our work it helps to build us up too!
22. Have an Online Presence
Social media, and more broadly the internet, are key in building a business these days. While there are still print applications, most crocheters are searching for patterns online. It’s not really an option to NOT have an online presence since it seems to be how companies gauge their interest in working with an independent designer. You don’t have to have every social media platform, but have a few, say Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Definitely set up a website or at least purchase your domain for later.
23. Share Your Pattern
You can design crochet patterns all you want, but what fun is it if you don’t share them!? Sharing your patterns across social media like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are great ways to be found and create a following. Always be sure to have a detailed description on your crochet pattern design, note what yarn you used and tag the yarn company! You never know, they may just re-share your work!
24. Pitch a Crochet Design to a Company!
Have you been designing for a while? Do you feel confident in your abilities hand have some your own crochet patterns designed and published? If you have already started your journey into crochet pattern design, maybe it’s time to take it to the next level and try working with a yarn company! Seek them out and look to find open submissions.
I hope you found these tips and tricks to becoming a crochet pattern designer to make your own crochet patterns helpful! As I think of more I will be sure to add them! Do you think I missed any? Be sure to give your inputs in the comments!