There is something freeing about designing your own patterns. The creating part is easy. It’s a lot of trial and error, improvisation, and playful artistic energy.
But the writing part needs to be very structured and organized. It has to be clear and concise or the art which you create will not translate into another crochet artist’s hands.
NOTE: I do not pretend to know it all. Far from it. I am close to the beginning of my design journey – but I am learning more every day, and I want to share those lessons with anyone starting out so that maybe they can skip over some of the mistakes I have made and regretted.
Whether you plan to publish your pattern or you are just trying to make sure you don’t forget it, I hope these methods help you write a crystal clear pattern that is fun and easy to do.
The Golden Rule:
Use standard abbreviations!
Craft Yarn Council
has a list of standard abbreviations for stitches. If you are going to use American terms, this is a good start. If you use something that is NOT on this list, it needs to be in the Pattern Stitches section of the pattern.
Abbreviations are designs to make it easy to read the steps of a pattern and to make it clear and concise. Though they may not seem natural at first, they are the industry standard and are the most professional way to present yourself. Think about it: If you make money doing something, you are a professional — therefore, if you sell even one pattern, you are now a professional designer.
DO NOT write out instructions using sentences. There is a big difference in the professionalism between:
Row 1: Sc in the first stitch and then sc all the way across.
Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc across.
Use Brackets to set off a series that needs repeating.
Ex. Row 2: [sc, sc inc] 6 times. (12)
Use parentheses to signify a group of stitches worked into one stitch.
Ex. Row 2: Ch 1, [sk 1, (sc, dc) in next st] 6 times.
In place of brackets, you may also use the asterisk method. It replaces the use of brackets, but the parentheses rule stays the same.
Ex. Row 2: *sk 1, (sc, dc) in next st, repeat from * 6 times.
Please feel free to copy this and fill in your information for your first pattern. Keep in mind, there will be times when you don’t need every part of it or you have to add to it, but this should get you started with the “feel” of writing patterns. But if you do your best to include these elements, your pattern will be easy to read and fun to follow.
US or UK crochet terms? (US crochet terms include an “sc.” UK crochet terms use “dc” for the same st and go up from there. Be sure you know what “language” you’re writing in.)
Final Measurements:(How big is it when complete? If there are sizes, list each size)
Gauge: (Count how many rows and how many stitches in a 4 x 4 inch square – this only matters if the size must be exact)
Specific yarn, weight, yardage, colors used in example
Notions (safety eyes? Buttons? Zippers?)
Don’t forget polyfil, tapestry needle, pins, stitch markers, etc.
Pattern Stitches:These are stitches that are repeatedly used in the pattern but are not basic abbreviations. This is where you should explain how to do any uncommon individual stitches.
Ex. Sc join: Slip knot yarn, insert hook through loop, insert hook through st, yo, pull through st, yo pull through 2 loops on hook.
Special Stitches:These are usually groups of stitches that are often together in the pattern and therefore marked with one abbreviation to simplify the pattern.
Ex. V-st: [Dc, ch 1, dc] in next ch sp.
Pattern Notes: This is where you put the rules of the pattern that will apply throughout the work. This is also a great place to put those “Do this for your own good” things like, “Assemble in order instructed for best results.”
Ex. Ch 2 at beginning of row counts as dc.
Ex. Work in continuous rounds. Do not join each with sl st.
1. Number every Row/Round and put a stitch count at the end of every Row/Round in parentheses.
2. If the piece is flat and has a front and back, label the first and second row with Right Side (RS) and Wrong Side (WS). It will be assumed that this will continue to alternate throughout the pattern.
3. Add instructions that are STEPS IN THE PATTERN in italics. Rules do not belong here if they apply throughout the pattern. Ask yourself, “Does this belongs in the instructions or in the Pattern Notes?”
With MC, ch 61.
Row 1: (RS) Sc is second ch from hook, sc across. Turn. (60)
Row 2: (WS) Ch 1, [sk 1, (sc, dc) in next st] across. Turn. (60)
Row 3-68: Repeat Rows 1 and 2. (60)
Bind off and weave in ends.
Please take this as you will. Use it for good. And please remember that most of this I learned by many a technical editor telling me, “It’s okay. You’re a beginner.”
Yarn on, people.
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Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.