You enjoy creating new designs instead of relying on other people’s patterns. Your friends want to make the items you’re designing. How do you become a crochet designer?
There’s a lot to learn, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Here are my ten best tips for becoming a crochet designer.
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Crochet, crochet, crochet
Crochet a lot. Crochet many different types of things: hats, scarfs, afghans, pillows, amigurumi, shawls and sweaters. Crochet items where gauge matters so that you understand how important gauge is. Crochet sweaters for women, for men, and for children so that you understand ease and fit.
Pay attention to the techniques you use and try to understand the “why” behind what you are doing. You may learn that you don’t enjoy crocheting a specific type of project or with a certain type of yarn. Or you may find new favorites!
The more you crochet and the more varied your projects are, the faster you will learn the designer skills.
Learn from Others
Study what other crochet designers have done, and see what techniques they use.
As you learn new techniques, make sure you’re learning from reputable sources. Blog posts and videos made years ago may have a lot of views. This makes them show up at the top of a list when you do a search. And they may be at the top of the list because they are useful and answer your questions.
Yet not every post or video you’ll see will be accurate. It may be that things have changed recently and new terminology has come into fashion. There may be more than one “right” way of doing something. The information given may not cover the whole story.
Take time to look at many sources for information. Learning from books, blogs, and videos will increase your knowledge. Books like Design Your Own Crochet Projects by Sara Delaney can speed you on your way.
Take classes to up your skill level. Many in-person classes are on hold right now, but they are an excellent way to build your skills. Bloggers and teachers who teach at national shows such as the CGOA’s Chain Link or Stitches events are a good place to start.
You can see all my available classes here.
And of course, there are thousands of YouTube videos to choose from. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for lots of crochet instruction.
Swatch, Swatch, Swatch
Swatching is the process of making a small sample of fabric using the yarn, hook, and stitch pattern(s) you’ll use in a project.
Most people think of swatching as a chore they have to do to match a pattern gauge. But swatching is much more than that! It’s a crucial tool for designers.
Swatching allows you to try out ideas before you commit to making an entire project. If you have a problem with the yarn or hook, or don’t like the stitch pattern, it’s better to find that out early on. Why wait until the middle of the project to find out you don’t like it?
Swatching allows you to get a feel for the fabric you are making. You can decide if that fabric behaves the way you want it to for your project. Play with combinations of hook, yarn and stitch pattern to get the exact fabric you want.
Crocheting is forgiving of experimentation, and that’s what swatching is all about. And yes, a good swatch also gives you important information about gauge.
Watch How to Measure Gauge in Single Crochet.
Make Friends with Stitch Dictionaries
While we are on the topic of experimenting, grab a stitch dictionary or three and try out different stitch patterns. Add stitch patterns to your design toolbox!
Try out a variety of patterns, hooks, yarns, and projects. This kind of play (it’s called swatching!) allows your creative juices to start flowing.
Here are some great places to start with stitch dictionaries:
Understand the Math
Designing for crochet is all about math. You are going to be using arithmetic in all your crochet designs, whether you realize it or not.
Knowing how gauge factors into everything is a start, but there is a lot more to know. You will save huge amounts of time, and lots of trial and error, if you take the time to learn the math behind the crochet.
Understanding the math ensures that your projects will turn out to be the size and proportions you intend. Don’t be scared! We are talking 4th-grade level calculations, and calculators are allowed! Learn more in my Math for Crocheters class.
Prepare a Professional Pattern
Have you ever felt discouraged trying to read a crochet pattern? An incomplete or poorly written pattern can make you throw your hook in the air with frustration!
Crocheters are more likely to trust you and want to make your patterns if they are easy to read and understand. Publishers and editors love designers who can compose well-written patterns.
Save yourself time and effort by coming up with a designing system. Develop your idea, make the project, and write the pattern in one integrated, seamless workflow.
In my online course Crochet Pattern Writing Workshop, you’ll start to create this type of workflow. You’ll develop a style guide so your patterns are consistently formatted. You’ll learn to write clear instructions. Improve the overall quality of your patterns for a more professional presentation.
Use a Tech Editor
A technical editor, or tech editor, checks your pattern between when you design it and when you publish it. They ensure that all of your math checks out and that you haven’t left out crucial instructions. A tech editor is a crucial step in presenting accurate, well-written patterns.
For more about tech editors, read Working with a Technical Editor.
Want to hire me as your tech editor? I’d love to help you become a better crochet designer!
Style Your Photos
Think about how you’ll be taking photos. Don’t just take a picture of your project on the kitchen table with mess in the background. Use natural light whenever possible, and the best camera you have available. (Maybe you need to borrow a family member’s phone!)
Putting other items in the picture with the project to style it makes the photo more interesting and memorable, and encourages people to click on your pattern.
For more on this topic, read Show and Tell: Photographing Handmade Textiles.
Anybody can be a published designer when you publish online!
Put patterns up on your blog or on pattern sites such as Ravelry, Etsy, or AllFreeCrochet.
Many crocheters expect patterns to come as downloadable and printable PDFs, not as pamphlets from their local stores. Make sure that those who find your patterns are able to find you and any other patterns you may have. Include your email address or website on each pattern.
Promote Your Patterns on Social Media
Let your friends and family know about your pattern, and encourage them to share it. Your cousin who doesn’t crochet may have a best friend who is looking for their next pattern.
Use those beautifully-styled photos you took! Broadcast your news on all the channels you can think of: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter. Consider making a promotional video for YouTube or other video platforms. Tell the world about your awesome design!
For more information on promoting your patterns, read my interview with Marie Segares, AKA Underground Crafter, and author of Design It, Promote It, Sell It.
There’s so much to learn about becoming a crochet designer! Check out Knit & Crochet Design Resources for some helpful links.
Do you have questions about crochet design? Ask them in the comments below.
Your description for designing an original crochet project is excellent! It contains all of the important points that should be part of a new pattern. I particularly liked that you have some cautions and suggestions about on-line video resources that might need some judgment before following the video’s instructions, because anyone may freely post their information . In a lot of classes that I’ve taught in the past, I have had students who were doing some “strange” or less-than-useful maneuvers which turned out to be learned on-line. Thanks for making your suggestions for pattern design available.