There are as many ways to write patterns as there are designers, well, maybe not exactly, but every designer has her/his own writing style.
To learn how to write amazing patterns you first need to know how to read one. If you are not familiar with reading patterns, I suggest you start with that before heading your way into designing your own. You can still run your blog while learning to design patterns, why not write honest pattern reviews on your awesome blog?
A great way to get an
understanding of how patterns are built is to crochet other people’s patterns,
that way you quickly learn how to write your own. As you get more and more
comfortable with writing patterns your writing will improve.
As a creator one thing that is constant is that you will always be evolving, exactly like your business.
Some designers offer very basic instructions while others offer more detailed instructions. Will you be writing your sizes one by one or lumping them together with instructions for how to adjust for each size. This is one of the big things you need to figure out.
You also need to decide what you want your patterns to say, what quality do you want them to have. If you are building your business on quality over quantity I suggest you make your patterns as clear and detailed as possible, even if it’s a complex pattern you need to write a way that is understood even by the hooker that just got home from the store with her first ball of yarn and hook. The clearer and detailed your patterns are, the happier hookers will be. And less questions for you.
What to include?
Every designer has her/his own writing style. There are a few general things a premium pattern should always include. If you are offering your patterns for free you can offer whatever information you want. However for paid patterns its important to be as clear as possible, both to save you work by not having a ton of questions from buyers also to give the buyer a good experience when buying one of your patterns.
- Pattern information
- Yarn weight
- How much yarn is needed
- Hook size
- Sizes and measurements of the finished piece
- What terms are used
- Any special stitches
- Other items to make design (stuffing, markers, etc)
How to start
First of all you need to have an idea. Just because you have this idea that you think is awesome and looks amazing in your head, it doesn’t guarantee it turns out like you plan when making the actual item. So be prepared to adjust your plan and expectations as you go. I suggest you get familiar with the word frogging, you will be doing this A LOT. Frogging doesn’t mean you have failed.
What did Thomas Edison say when asked about his failed attempts at creating the lightbulb? “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”. – Thomas Alva Edison.
You need to think about your creative process the same way. Frogging doesn’t equal failing; it just means you found out one more way how not to make your design. That brings you one step closer to the design in your head.
As I said before every designer has their own creative process and writing style. Here I will share mine, 99% of all customers I talk to think that my patterns are clear and easy to read.
It all starts with a thought or a need to make something for one of my kids. I go and pick the yarn I want, a few hook sizes close in size, because even tho the label says to use a 5mm hook it doesn’t always look the way I need it to, so I want to be able to adjust. I also bring my notepad and pen, let’s be real maybe a few pens! Those get lost more frequently then my hooks.
I don’t write each row before I make them, also I don’t make the whole item before I write it down. I make 1 row, then pause, write it down before I am on to the next. I count each row, then write down my stitch count after each row is finished. Sometimes after 15-20 rows I don’t like it at all, and simply frog it. Then all that I had written down is useless, so I just turn to a new page and start over and thats okay, it’s all part of the process.
I make sure that I have each row numbered and that I am consistent in my writing. If I use the term sc2tog, I don’t write dec on the next row, even tho the two means the same, it will confuse the reader, so always be consistent in the terms you are using.
I use comma to separate my sequences. If in 10 sts I am making one increase, 8 single crochets then one more increase I write: 2sc, 1 sc in 8 sts, 2sc. If I were to write 2sc 8sc 2sc. It doesn’t read as clear.
When I have a row that
repeats a sequence of sts I mark those with little stars * one in the beginning,
one at the end, behind I put the number of times they will be repeating the
sequence. For example: We are making a pattern that will have 1sc in 3 sts, 1
hdc in 3 sts, 1 dc in 3 sts, than we want to repeat that 3 times without having
to write: 1sc in 3 sts, 1 hdc in 3 sts, 1 dc in 3 sts, 1sc in 3 sts, 1 hdc in 3
sts, 1 dc in 3 sts, 1sc in 3 sts, 1 hdc in 3 sts, 1 dc in 3 sts, writing it out
like this might cause the reader to lose track having to recount over and over,
instead we write: *1sc in 3 sts, 1 hdc in 3 sts, 1 dc in 3 sts,* X 3.
Now how will the reader know what that means, experienced crocheter do, but what about that lady that just bought her first ball of yarn and hook? She will know because you wrote it in the pattern information before the pattern even began.
I would write: when a sequence of sts are repeated these are written within (*-*) the total number of times the sequence is repeated is written behind. This helps the reader know what they are supposed to do.
Always measure your creation along the way.
Once I have my pattern written up in my notepad, I go to my computer, type it into a word doc, I include all the information right from the start. I then use my calculator to count each row to make sure the st count is correct.
This is the tricky part, I read my pattern so many times that I become blind. After a certain amount of time your brain reads what you know it’s supposed to say instead of what it actually says if there is an error in the pattern. Thats why testers or a tech editor is a great thing.
Now it’s time for a gauge swatch to figure out how much yarn the crafter will need, what type of yarn and hook size.
The most common gauge measurements is a 4” x 4” or 10x10cm square.
To make a gauge swatch, use the same sts used in your pattern, test your way to see how many of the sts you get in 4”/10cm also how many rows that need to be worked. All stitches should fit within the measurements.
Skip the bump tip:
When making a gauge swatch always make more starting chains then you think you need, saving you the extra work of going back and adding more chains.
I am sure there are many ways to determine how much yarn you use, or the crafter will need. Below is how I calculate.
Now that you have your gauge swatch its time to see how much yarn is needed. If you are making a pattern with only one size you can weigh the finished item to determine how much yarn was used, but if you have multiple sizes in your pattern you can’t just wing it for the other sizes, And let’s face it, if you are writing a pattern with 10 sizes it would take you months and months to work all the sizes up along with costing you a fortune in yarn.
The way I do this is by cutting of my gauge swatch, counting how many sts in total my swatch has, then frogging it, once frogged I measure the whole yarn used in the swatch to determine how much yarn is used for creating 1 single crochet in my pattern. For the sake of it we say that our swatch had 50 sc, that our yarn measured 100 cm, (I make my calculations in cm, you can choose to do them in inches if you want). I then divide my yarn length with the number of stitches I got: 100cm/50sc = 2cm per sc. I now know that each single crochet in my pattern uses approx. 2 cm of yarn. I open a second word document next to my pattern and write down the stitch count for each row in the size i am currently working on. I then add every single st for every row in that size, 21+31+41+51+61=205, 205 is the number of sts my pattern has (always include the turning chain in this calculation even if it not counted as a stitch in your pattern) take your total number of sts multiplied by the measurement for one st. 205sts x 2cm = 410cm. Here you have the minimum amount of yarn required to make this size, you need to facture in sewing and ends that will be joined, I always add a few extra meters to my final calculations. I do this to make sure the crafter has enough yarn to finish the pattern, better to have some left then not have enough. Calculate each size the same way.
Step by step pictures
When my pattern is all typed up I make notes of where I think the crafter might get stuck or have questions, then go back, crochet my whole pattern again, making sure I take photos along the way of bits I think would benefit from a step by step photo.
Most of the times taking photos of what I am doing can be tricky because I need both my hands to show and I have no hand left to take the picture.
Pictures are best done in daylight when its only me at home. I spent 30$ on a small tripod with bendable legs that was a great investment!!! But I still needed both my hands… so how to fix it? I am using my phone which has a touch screen, don’t laugh now. PROMISE?…… I used my tongue, bending forward with my tongue out trying to keep my hands still while not missing the button repeatedly, it’s not easy, believe me! And it’s kinda icky, until one day I was playing around with the camera settings on the phone and realized I had voice control, so now I just sit around making loud noises whenever I need a picture taken. I think that the neighbors might wonder what on earth I am doing because I sound like a monkey most times.
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