Welcome to the first of five in the Crochet Design Series! Last week, you had the opportunity to meet the designers who are participating in the series. These designers will be sharing their knowledge with us on what they do to design a crochet pattern. Each designer has their expertise and I love that they are sharing their tips with us.
Series 1- Crochet Designing, In the Beginning… Design Inspiration
Welcome, designers, thank you for being here and sharing your vast knowledge on what it takes to design a crochet pattern. I’m really excited to learn more, as perhaps are the readers out there who are looking forward to learn more. 🙂
Can you please give a brief introduction into how you got into designing crochet patterns?
As a newbie designer, I have some ideas floating around in my mind about what design I’d like to share with other crocheters. However, I know that there are some crocheters who want to design but need some sort of inspiration. So, let’s jump into this first part of the series, In the Beginning… Design Inspiration. When and how does inspiration strike for a design, including the “off season” of Spring and Summer? When you sit down to design a pattern, what factors go into your design? Style, yarn, difficulty level, etc? Do you have a niche, a specific target audience you usually cater to?
I started designing because I used to just think of items I wanted to make and make them. Then one day I realized that if I wanted to keep making them the same I really needed to write them out. And that’s how my designing started. Almost by accident.
If you want to design just start doing what you want to do and write it down. We all have something very special to bring to the world of crochet and there really is no reason we can’t all create. Sure, as you go you may want to get more “formal” education, but to begin, just create what makes you happy and that you think you would wear or the audience you’re thinking of would wear then go for it.
Inspiration strikes if I think of when and who I want to design for. Sometimes I get inspired because I really want something new and I think ‘why not design it’ other times it may be something a friend or family member has said they want. When it comes to the seasons, I just go with the flow. If what I’m thinking of will work for a particular season then I’ll work on it and release it when the right season comes along.
I usually think of how I want the piece to fit first, then I think of what material would work best, finally I think of how difficult I want it to be for me to make let alone for those who purchase the pattern. I’m a very simple gal who loves texture and I’m starting to get into mixing of colors. Yes, I do hold a specific target in mind as I work on a pattern because trying to please everyone doesn’t work, but pleasing one person will.
Neen’s Crochet Corner
Inspiration can strike at any time! From walking around the garden with the kids, watching TV, reading a book, holidaying or even someone simply saying, ‘Hey, can you make me this?’ Although I crochet pretty much anything, my niche and my passion lies with crochet toys or amigurumi as it’s also known. Once an idea strikes, a sketch is drawn and notes jotted. How big? Texture? Which yarns, colours, etc, would work best together? How to bring it together so it’s easily understood and the end outcome attainable for other crocheters is something I am also conscious of. Quite often the end result can vary greatly to my initial sketch but an idea has to start somewhere and it is simply that, an idea! I love it when inspiration flows during creation. The end result can grow and often surprise me, and tends to lead to future ideas that I then also jot down and sketch! What a lovely cycle!
Hey there, I’m Sonya, the stitcher behind Blackstone Designs. I got started in crochet designing in 2012, but didn’t start publishing my patterns until 2013. I started out taking orders for handmade items and during this time I would design some of the products. That’s when I realized that I loved coming up with the items more than I loved selling them.
Where do you get your inspiration? This has probably the most asked question. And the answer you will likely get from every designer is EVERY WHERE. I could be out for a walk, talking to my son, flipping through a magazine, and a design will pop into my head. I could see a paper craft and think about how awesome that would be as a crochet design with a few tweaks. I actually dream of designs often.
Of course there are some other factors in what gets produced and published. I could think of a totally awesome Christmas design in May. Well, I’m not exactly going to work it up and publish it, so I sketch it out and leave myself some notes about what I’m thinking and walk away (hoping I will have the motivation to work it up in a couple of months).
And of course there are some other things I have to consider. If I come up with a great summer tank top pattern, I’m not going to buy wool yarn, I would be looking for something more seasonally appropriate. I learned this one the hard way. I dreamed up this awesome Americana dress for my daughter. I sketched it out, grabbed my acrylic yarn, and made that beautiful dress. And then I put it on my baby on a very humid July 4th. Just carrying her to the car made me sweat, so I knew immediately that I had gone all wrong with the fiber choice. Sadly, she only got to wear it in the car. I took her out, showed her off for a few minutes and changed her clothes. That design would be my Erilin Sundress pattern and I would suggest a cotton or cotton blend yarn to anyone who makes it.
Overall my designs come from my heart. I just design what makes me happy and I hope that others will love them as much as I do. Although I love making clothes and accessories the most, I really like to just dabble in all areas of crochet. Some days I will just really be drawn to making stuffies or other days I may be looking to make functional for the home items. I just love it all!
Underground Crafter | Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show
I’m Marie from Underground Crafter and I got into designing in 2008 because I was trying to find interesting projects for my crochet students. I teach crochet (and now knitting) in an adult education setting, and I’m always looking for interesting stitches, techniques, and projects for my classes. Many of my designs start out as classroom projects to teach a specific skill, like changing colors, making bobbles, increasing or decreasing, or working in the round.
In 2010, I started submitting designs to magazines and so now I have two different processes. My process for freelance work is usually based on the ideas I get after reading a design call or looking at a mood board. My process for self-published designs is a bit more organic. I might see something in the street — I live in New York City, so there are a lot of great styles to gawk. I also LOVE playing with yarn, so sometimes I just feel like the yarn is speaking to me and asking to become a particular type of project. And, I’m a stitch guide junkie, so I’m always swatching up different stitches. My self-publishing designs bring together these three inspirations – something I might see on the subway, a yarn I want to play with, and a stitch that looks interesting.
Most of my patterns are geared towards an advanced beginners and intermediate crocheters that don’t have total confidence in her pattern reading skills. I strive to produce patterns that are error free so that my customers can learn to read patterns without second guessing themselves. My designs cater to women who crochet for themselves and for gifts. As New Yorkers, many of my students crochet during their commute on the subway or bus. So, the bulk of my patterns are for women’s accessories, but I also have a growing number of unisex patterns, baby items, and home decor. Most of my projects are portable enough to work on during a subway ride, too.
Sick ‘Lil Monkeys
How I got into design: Several years ago my sister in law asked for some photography props for Christmas. I wanted to give her more than I could afford, so I decided to make them instead. At the time I couldn’t really read a pattern, so I made them on my own. I posted my work, and several people requested the “pattern”. I would always laugh and say I don’t have those. After enough requests I wrote one up, found 6 testers, and grew from there. My 1st pattern was a train wreck, and sometimes they STILL are! I just have very supportive understanding testers that allow beautiful mess that is me to operate.
When and how does inspiration strike for a design, including the “off season” of Spring and Summer? For me Crochet Inspiration usually comes when I look at something fabric. It just begins turning into stitches and rows in my head. Sometimes it happens at 2 am, and I have to get out of bed and hook it. Write it down as I go, and get it completely out before I can sleep.
I rarely get restrained by yarn types, styles, or difficulty level. One of the best things about desige is the freedom to be as creative as I want to be. I will say I have heard designers say they picked up certain yarns and things sprang to mind. I would say I actually work in reverse, the item springs to mind, and I plug in the materials that will make what I envision the most from there.
When I first began Cre8tion Crochet, I started off like most designers do, by selling my finished items. However I never followed any patterns, since I am completely self-taught, I always “designed” my own items but I never wrote out the patterns for them. In fact I didn’t even know HOW to read a pattern, let alone write one, that came much later.
Eventually people started asking me what patterns I used to make my items. This lead to me writing my own patterns and sharing them with others. Writing patterns has been a huge learning experience and it has changed so much over the past few years. My first few patterns did not follow any of the rules. They were likely extremely confusing to whomever was trying to follow them. Over the years I have honed my skills, and I still have much more to learn. That is the best thing about this craft, and business; you never stop learning and growing.
For me, inspiration can strike at any time, any place and come from anywhere. Sometimes I see something in a magazine, sometimes on tv. Other times I’m walking through a store and see something that inspires me. Most of my inspiration comes from fashion, as opposed to crocheted items. Designers need to be mindful of the difference between inspiration and copying. I don’t see a crochet sweater and then go about creating the same thing. The inspiration should be the shape, the color, the function, the overall look, NOT copying something that has already been made.
This isn’t to say that you can’t get inspiration from crochet, but inspiration isn’t mimicking. I often look at crochet and take stock of design elements that I like, whether it be a stitch, a fit, a shape, etc. Naturally the things I admire will make their way into something I design, but you would never be able to tell by looking at my finished piece, since there are so many varying factors in a finished design.
I don’t really have an “off season” since I make summer garments too. I also don’t worry much about seasons when I design. I just make what appeals to me at the time. Very likely some of my inspiration will lead to items that will be for the season I am in, since the places I get inspiration from are often current, such as fashion magazines. If the season really doesn’t fit, sometimes I’ll sketch out an idea and pick it up later, other times I make the pattern and put it aside until the next season. I often have 5-10 designs going at any given time, all in different stages.
I am also not mindful of a particular niche when I design. I make what I like. I am a big believer in the fact that I design for myself. While it is fun to sometimes have to use a particular yarn, or design a particular item for a contracted piece, I would not want to be in this business if I couldn’t use it as a creative outlet. This being said, the items I make do tend to appeal to a specific demographic, but that is not the set goal.
My designs are never too complicated, I do create them to be made after all; if they were too difficult than not many people would benefit from them. Who says beautiful needs to be difficult? At the same time I strive to push people to learn new skills and stretch their crocheting muscles. I use whatever methods are going to give me the look I want. Foundation chains are something I couldn’t live without.
My yarn choices vary greatly, depending on many factors. The biggest factors are what season the items will be used, and ease of care. If the garment is something that will be washed often than I’ll design with a more hearty fiber. Typically I use acrylic and cotton for items made for children so that they can be cared for easily. I’ll stay away from acrylic for summer items. If I’m designing a ladies shawl or fancier top then I’ll tend to use more luxurious fibers, and typically they will be a natural fiber so that the item can be blocked. If it is an everyday use top than I may use a lightweight acrylic blend so that it can be machine washed. Sometimes I just really like a particular yarn and I set out to make an item that will work well with that fiber.
In short there are many factors that go into designing and pattern writing and there is a huge learning curve. Don’t be afraid to jump right in and start doing. You WILL make mistakes, we all do… but you will hopefully learn from them and know better for next time.
“How did I start designing”
I don’t know.. I just kind of fell into it. I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person, but my hands won’t do the work my brain envisions. I can’t draw, but I can write, and I can crochet.
“How and when does inspiration strike for a design”
I’ve only promoted two patterns. One is a “knock off” of another designer’s. While her pattern was beautiful, I wasn’t sure if it could be universal. So I asked her permission to alter it, and publish it as my own, quoting her original as the inspiration, of course. She agreed, and I was off and running.
My second pattern came to me as I was learning a new stitch for a different pattern altogether. I made sure to again ask if I could link to the originator’s video tutorial when publishing.
As for the when… I’m not sure.. I’ll just be working on something and BAM, an idea for something different comes along, and I can get rather obsessive about it. It just kind of… happens?
“Factors in design”
It all really comes down to WHAT it is. Doilies use thread, coasters/hotpads/washcloths use cotton… Clothing is tricky. You can’t just use ANY yarn for that, in my humble opinion. You’d want something soft and not itchy. I prefer using Caron Simply Soft for clothes. It’s readily available, doesn’t cost a lot, the colors are BEYOND beautiful, and it’s SO pretty and soft… Smaller clothes like scarves/hats I’ll use Red Heart Soft. Blankets I use either Caron One Pounders or Red Heart Super Saver. They’re BIG balls, and go a LONG way.
“Niche or Target Audience”
I can’t say that I have one yet. I’m still “fumbling about”. I prefer to make things that are simple and quick, so if I’m going to design
something, it’ll be the same way. A nice, repetitive design works well also. Something the average crocheter can just… do.
ELK Studio – Handcrafted Crochet Designs
I started ELK Studio – Handcrafted Crochet Designs in December of 2012. I had always loved to crochet but when my children were small, I didn’t have the time to really dedicate myself to a crochet business. Now they are grown with families of their own, it has allowed me time to sit and really be creative with the yarn.
I had always followed patterns but one day I decided it would be different. I wanted to try out something that I could say was mine and give it my own personality. I found that designing that first beanie sparked something inside of me to continue to create. It doesn’t hurt that my husband is super supportive and cheered me along the way. He gives me the encouragement to push myself beyond my limits and plus….he loves to wear my hats!
Sometimes I may just sit down with some yarn I’ve bought and get out the hook and just started playing around with stitches. Other times, I may find a cool stitch that I’ve found in a stitch dictionary. I don’t have a “set” way of designing, but I think that is what makes it so much fun for me.
I love creating designs that everyone can crochet including the brand new crocheters or even the most experienced. I try to use unique stitches in a way that will give the impression to a complicated pattern but in reality….it’s really simple.
Most of my designs are catered to adults. I love kids… I do… I have several of my own plus grandchildren, but adult items appeal to me and that’s what is important. I think we must design projects that make us happy and puts a smile our faces. Otherwise, why do it?
Creative Threads by Leah
I get my inspiration from everywhere! During spring and summer I try to do lighter fabrics or smaller items. That is typically when my items are for the home instead of wearables although I am wanting to create some jewelry and barefoot sandals and such this year. Some of my best ideas have come from non crochet items that I “translate” into crochet. I also love to browse Pinterest. I see what colors and styles are trending and go from there. I try to do a range of easy to more complex so that I have something for everyone. Most of the time, I sit down with a specific idea in my head and work from there. Sometimes I find a stitch that I just HAVE to design with and come up with items using that. I design what I love, so I have some “nerdy” items as well as things for my daughter and myself. Since my mom is “plus size” I try to offer designs for those sizes as well although I really don’t like that term.
I’ve always designed my own patterns – before I realized there were crochet patterns available online, or had the budget to get crochet pattern books, I just started making whatever was in my head! However, it took several more years before I wrote anything down. When I started selling finished items, I realized I prefered designing new things to making the same finished items repeatedly – et voila! Mooglyblog.com was born!
My inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes it’s the yarn, sometimes it’s something a friend or relative has mentioned, sometimes it’s what I see in stores or being worn out and about! In Spring and Summer, I think about all the little things that are handy for active days, or around the house. (And write down all my ideas for fall/winter to use later!)
When I sit down to design, I think about what I have in mind for a finished project, and what will be the simplest way to achieve it. And then I start crocheting, and write down what I do as I go!
As for my niche, I think I tend toward really modern looks – at least that’s my goal! I also try to design things I’d want to make – and I love making quick projects!
Well.. there you have it! These were great and varied responses to design inspiration. Some were short and to the point, and other were more detailed. I love the fact that there is a diverse group of designers that show their levels of experience. Please feel free to comment and keep the conversation going. If you have any other tips on design inspiration, definitely share it in the comments. We can all learn from each other and support each other as best we can.
Happy Hooking Yarnies!