22 May 2014

How to write your own crochet pattern...

I've really enjoyed recently trying to write my own crochet patterns.  I'm just a beginner at this, but it is a natural step after crocheting for a while to want to come up with your own ideas.  I thought I would share my process if you fancy having a go yourself...

1. Practice, practice, practice!
To be able to make a pattern you need to understand patterns! I would recommend knowing all your crochet stitches quite well and completing a fair few projects before embarking on your own.  I love testing my pattern reading and following skills by making small projects from books and crochet magazines. 

 2. Research
This is the fun part (or I think so anyway!) basically looking at pretty pictures.  So you have a rough idea of something you want to create but need some inspiration.  This is where I turn to my favourite crochet mags, such as Simply Crochet and books such as my 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet.  Obviously Pinterest is a massive source of inspiration and sites such as Ravelry. Just immerse yourself in pretty pictures of colourful crochet, fun!

3. Sketch
You do not need to have amazing artistic skills! This is where you just get your ideas down.  You can make bullet points or draw out what you are attempting to go for with your pattern. 

4. Hide all influence!
At this stage you need to get rid of all your inspiration and any other patterns so that you are not influenced and to avoid risk of copying.  It may not be intentional but if you have looked at patterns recently you are very likely to remember them and this will stop you thinking of your own.  I recommend starting this stage another day so your mind has a fresh start and you are open to new ideas! Patterns are always going to be 'inspired' by things you have seen before and using elements from another pattern is inevitable, but you should give yourself the best chance to think of your own unique ideas, especially if you eventually wish to sell your patterns or creations.

5. Trial and error
Right now it is time to just go for it! Perhaps start a flower or a flat block for your first attempt at a pattern, as it is easy to be creative here.  You could start simply with a ch5, ss to form a ring and then work x number of either double or triple crochet into the ring.   The next row perhaps skip some stitches, work some chains between stitches, then the next round you can play with stitches in either the spaces or previous stitches.  Try a few different stitches out! Petals are usually formed of a cluster of stitches into one stitch from previous round.  To add shape to petals you can add stitches of different lengths.  Look at the shapes and stitches formed and then build onto that. 

Don't worry about sticking to your sketch too much at this stage, I usually end up working a few rounds, unravelling and starting again many times to get the desired effect.  You could try also making a small diagram, don't worry about using those complicated diagrams that sometimes come with patterns (anyone else actually follow those???) Simply use dots and dashes, or even numbers to represent doubles or triples etc, this could help you to understand how many stitches can fit into previous rounds. Yes, unfortunately you may have to do a little maths at this stage! ugh, maths! 

Top tip here is to use one colour! Don't worry about colour changing at this stage, you want to concentrate on getting the shape right now.

It is important to remember here to write everything down, after each round, write down what you did!  You can cross it out if you unravel anything.  Make sure you know from your notes which rows you are happy with.

6. Test, test, test!
So you have some rough notes from the previous stage and you have a completed flower in a single colour. But now you need to replicate it! This is a very important step that cannot be skipped.  Sometimes I find that I simply cannot replicate what I made the first time around! You need to de-code your scruffy notes and un-pick what you made to ensure that your written notes are correct.  Make your flower at least a few more times now to make sure it is perfect.  

7. Test again!
On one of your tests you can now add some colour changes.  Remember to work these into your pattern, giving advice to your potential readers as best ways and places to join and how to secure the ends.

Consider here taking some photos of your process, these may come in handy to illustrate your final write up!

8. Write up
Go through all your rough notes and write up your pattern neatly.  Check up on the correct shorthand for all the stitches, make sure it is clear.  If in doubt write all the stitches in full, ensure you have written in all your colour changes and you can add in snippets of advice.

9. Yep, more testing!
Now you need to give your pattern to somebody else to test for you.  You might think it is easy to understand but your writing style may be confusing to someone else.  Maybe you have made an error each time and not noticed.  Ask a competent crocheter friend to test your pattern for you and give you some good constructive criticism. 

10. Final write up
Edit all your notes after advice from your friend and do the final write ups for your pattern.  Add in your photos if you have some, check your spellings and grammar.

Now you can blog your pattern or of course add your very own pattern to Ravelry! It is super exciting to see that other people are creating projects from your patterns!

Have you come up with any of your own patterns?  I would love to see, and of course I am always up for testing! Do get in touch.

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