I published my first crochet pattern in July 2019. It was a small pouch, very simple and made with the single crochet stitch. It was a huge and terrifying step for me because up until then, designing wasn’t really a focus until I had an idea pop in my head and wanted to turn it into something. Something you should know about me is that I don’t like to move forward without learning about the next steps as much as I can. So of course, I spent a lot of time researching the process of pattern designing and learned the basics so that I could release my first pattern confidently and with a sense of pride.
Since my first pattern, I have released over 60 designs and I have learned a lot. If you are new to pattern designing or are a crocheter interested in what happens behind the scenes, I’m happy to share a little bit about what my process is like.
It’s important to note that I’m only sharing insight into the basics of designing a crochet pattern and what the process is like for me. Designing can be a different experience depending on the person and what item they are creating. All crocheters have their own methods but this post is a peek into mine.
My patterns are in a written format describing the steps and stitches. I have received a lot of positive feedback on this format from crocheters saying that they are easy to read and follow along with, no matter the skill level. I don’t use charts or graphs but those formats are also popular amongst other designers. It really comes down to personal preference and setting up your own routine and methods.
What Exactly Is Pattern Designing?
Pattern designing in the area of crochet is a process where an idea comes to life. There are many aspects to this stage and it can look different for each person. Each designer begins the process differently but here are just a few examples of ways it could start:
- sketching ideas on paper
- Translating an idea or stitch combination into a swatch
- Starting out with skeins of yarn in a particular weight or texture and then pull ideas for designs
- Starting out with an idea and looking for yarn that would compliment your design
- Inspiration from seasonal changes, colours in nature or daily life
- Finding a need for something and designing to fill that gap or to serve a particular purpose
What Happens In The Pattern Designing Process?
Even with researching the pattern designing process, it took a little while to settle into a routine that worked for me and for my testers. I now have a comfortable and organized method that makes my designing process manageable and straightforward. Again, this is MY process and I can’t comment on the methods of other designers.
Sorting through ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t. My focus usually is one skein projects, small patterns and finding ways to combine stitches within those items. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with designs using only one skein so that aspect does narrow down the type of designs I focus on. I tend to stick to neck warmers, scarves, home decor items and other accessories. For designers who work on wearables like cardigans or large items like blankets, this step could be more intricate.
Swatch it up! This part is what often takes the most time for me. Having an idea is one thing but sometimes turning it into a real design can be tricky. A vision I have might seem fabulous in my head but worked up with yarn, doesn’t actually look that great. There’s a lot to consider in this area which is why this part can seem long and tedious. Adjusting ideas, changing up stitches, sorting out the stitch count, switching the yarn…there’s a lot that can happen in this step.
- Sometimes the yarn I wanted to use doesn’t actually work well with the stitches or design. For example, a variegated yarn doesn’t generally work well with stitches that create texture because those details get lost in all the busy colours.
- Some yarn shows off stitch definition better than others. I’ve had to change up the yarn I had in mind for something that better shows off the stitch work.
- On occasion, I just didn’t like the how the idea looked so I set it aside for a refresh later on.
- I sort out sizing, hook sizes, stitch counts, gauge, tension, etc. I like to use a good ol’ paper and pencil for this part and find graph paper to be very helpful!
I take a lot of notes in this step and will organize them in step 3. Once I have sorted out that the swatch works well with the stitches, yarn and hook size, I’m ready to move on to working up a full sized version.
This part is fun for me because I went through all the adjusting and sorting in step 2. I can enjoy working on the design and use this step as a general guideline for how long it might take someone to crochet. Like in step 2, I will once again confirm details for stitch count, gauge and tension. Sometimes in this step, details might get added or adjusted to the pattern (edging, extending or decreasing rows/rounds, notes to add into the pattern). If there is anything in particular within the design that I need to explain, I will stop to take photos of those steps to include. If all goes well, I will complete the project in this step.
If everything went smoothly in step 3, I will have a fully finished project. Yay! At this point I will look through my notes and put them into my pattern format. I have a template that I created and use for all my patterns. It allows me to keep things consistent and lets those who purchase and use my patterns know that they can expect the same thing from me, every time. This part is generally quick as I’m simply expanding on my notes and organizing them into a template.
In my patterns, I always include special stitch tutorials if the pattern requires. I will provide a simple walk through within the pattern but will always link to a more detailed tutorial if needed. I will also prepare any blog posts related to the tutorials (if I haven’t written them already) and set them up so they are linked to from within the pattern. I try to make patterns welcoming to every skill level so if someone doesn’t need the tutorial, they can skim past. Otherwise, this is an opportunity to encourage and invite a beginner to learn something new! This can be a tedious task but one that I don’t mind doing and feel is important.
This part is really fun because I get to take all the pretty photos and set up flat-lays to show off the finished piece. I’ll take a few pictures using different angles to focus on various aspects of the design. If needed, I will edit them to sort out issues with lighting, or shadows. I take my photos in a well lit area with bright, natural light so I don’t usually need to edit too much. I’ll add a watermark to my photos and insert them into my pattern.
It’s time for testing! To me, this is the most important part of the process. I have a private testing group and will post that I have a new design in need of testing. Those who are interested volunteer and agree to the terms of the testing requirements (ex: timeframe, testing goals, providing photos and feedback). I will email my pattern over to them and let my testers work their magic! They will crochet the design according to what is written in the pattern and look for any issues with stitch counts, grammatical errors, gauge, yardage, etc. Depending on the design, the timeframe for testing can be different. I keep in contact with my testers throughout this process to support and answer any questions that may arise.
During this time, I will work on my promotion details! I use Canva to prepare graphics promoting my pattern for my blog, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. I will also prep my designs in Ravelry and Ety by creating draft listings so there is less to do later.
Once all my testers have returned their feedback and photos, it’s time to edit. I look over all the notes and comments and adjust the pattern as needed in my template, formatting everything to create the final copy. I will create my blog post talking about the pattern if it’s paid OR share the pattern if it’s free. I upload all the photos to my blog that I took in step 5 and prep my write ups for release day.
It’s time to release the pattern! This is always an exciting and busy day because even though I’ve done a lot of organizing and prep work, there’s a lot to do. A double check of my final copy, ensure the blog post and pattern listings are in order and then it’s posting time and share, share share!
I promote all my patterns (paid and free) on release day to my social media pages. If the Facebook groups I am part of allow, I will share there as well along with Pinterest using the graphics I created in step 6. All my testers receive a finalized copy of the pattern and then….it’s time to breath and take a break before starting the process all over for a new design.
And that is how the Sweet Bee Crochet patterns are created! All my patterns, both paid and free go through the testing process. As a designer, I feel it adds a level of credibility and trust. Especially with paid patterns or free patterns that have paid versions, it helps those purchasing feel more confident in what they’re buying. They will know that all Sweet Bee Crochet Patterns have been through many steps and testing before being released. They can expect the same layout, format and editing between all my designs.
As you can see, my process has many steps and takes a lot of work and time. I have a strong sense of pride with my patterns I hope my process shows that!
When people buy patterns, leave a review, give a little share or follow of social media pages, they are wonderful ways to show support to independent designers. I promise you, those little things can mean the world to us.
If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to check out some of my designs! You can find Free Patterns on my blog, and paid patterns in my Etsy and Ravelry shops. I also have a growing list of tutorials!
Did you know I love connecting with others? Come join my Creative Crochet Community Group on Facebook! Share links to your favourite patterns, post photos of your projects and ask questions about your projects! It’s small but slowly growing and you are very welcome here!