Do you really want to buy that crochet pattern but are unsure if it is worth the money? Use these steps to vet a paid crochet pattern before you buy!
Have you heard this before?
“I don’t buy patterns because I bought one once and it was terrible!”
I see it all the time in Facebook groups, and it breaks my heart. Most designers pour their heart and soul into their work. They live their lives writing, taking photos, finding testers, and hiring tech editors. Their patterns are the culmination of hours and hours of work, and therefore, very worth your money!
However, there is a growing number of budding designers who are self-publishing without any writing or design experience. They think it looks easy, so they crank out a pattern in jumbled steps with made-up abbreviations, and put it up for sale.
These kinds of patterns are so common that it can be hard to weed them out and find the well-written patterns.
In fact, it’s probably easier to find a pattern written in “crochet pidgin” than to find one in a standardized format — which further perpetuates the theory that any slapdash pattern is good enough to sell and further drives people away from buying patterns!
So how do you find the well-thought out, well-written pattern that deserves your money?
Check these five criteria before buying:
- Designer Experience
- Standardized Format
- Tech Editing/Testing
Take a few minutes to vet the pattern, and you’ll never buy a bad pattern again.
1. Designer Experience
How many patterns does the designer have in his/her shop?
A prolific body of work often signifies the designer has been doing this long enough to learn how to write well. After all, practice makes perfect.
Have they ever written patterns for a magazine or website other than their own?
This can be a great indicator of the designer’s experience with crochet “grammar” and standardized abbreviations. When a designer writes for a magazine, their pattern is held to strict standards, and the designer works directly with a professional tech editor to correct errors and improve clarity.
If a designer has written for print like this before, they often carry over their experience to their self-published work.
2. Standardized Abbreviations
Every pattern should state somewhere what terms are used in the pattern.
If they are doing it right, a designer will use either US or UK standard abbreviations and will say which in the pattern description.
The most common standardized abbreviations can be found via the Craft Yarn Council.
These will be the same abbreviations you see in magazines and other crochet publications. A good sign a pattern is well-written is if the designer doesn’t make up their own crochet language.
If the designer is not able to tell you what standard they use, they might not know what they are doing, so beware.
Don’t let anyone tell you there are “many different ways” to write a pattern.
There shouldn’t be.
Much like English has grammar, so does a crochet pattern. An experience designer will know how to write using proper “crochet grammar” that is easy to understand.
Tip: Also avoid patterns that say “steps” or “walkthrough” instead of “pattern.” Those are often going to be more of a friendly chat on how the designer made something rather than a set of stitch-by-stitch instructions that are easy to follow.
3. Tech Editing and/or Testing
Most reputable designs have their patterns tested and/or tech edited by professionals to look for errors and to make sure the pattern is easy to follow. They are often proud of this fact and will put something like “professionally edited” in their product description.
Because tech editing costs money, it is one of the steps most often skipped by new designers.
The majority of frustrating errors in a pattern are from incorrect math or incorrect crochet grammar. Both of these are greatly lessened by tech editors and testers.
Now, no pattern is every error-free! Don’t expect absolute perfection! After all, both the designer and tech editor are human!
A pattern that is edited and/or tested has had multiple sets of eyes look it over, and the pattern is far less likely to have glaring errors or lack clarity.
This is probably the BEST source of information on whether or not a pattern is worth buying.
Reviews can be actual star-based reviews like on Etsy or a website.
They also come in the form of finished projects on Ravelry. If you look at the Projects section of the pattern you are considering, there will be pictures of finished items others have made using the pattern. These also often come with lengthy reviews, changes made to the pattern, or corrections of errors people have found.
Ravelry Projects is my favorite way to vet a pattern before buying!
If it’s a brand new pattern, you can look at the Projects section of other patterns by the designer and see if they were easy for others to follow.
Beware the cheapo pattern.
Yes, there are great designers who sell printable versions of their free patterns for a few dollars. I don’t mean those.
I mean beware of a sweater pattern with 6 sizes for $1.00 or a collection of 100 patterns for $5.00.
Like sushi from the dollar store, these deals are usually too good to be true. You get what you pay for, and all that.
However, if a pattern is many pages long, contains lots of pictures, diagrams, or schematics, then that pattern took much more time and is worth more money.
Be willing to pay a little more for a well-written pattern!
Bonus: Pattern samples
Finally, is there a place you can go to see the designer’s actual writing style?
Do they have a blog or website with free patterns you can look at to read a pattern first?
A lot of designers have a few free patterns here and there on their website. No website? Google them and see if they have written patterns as a guest designer for other sites!
If you are on the fence about a pattern, a few seconds of research and you can check out their style and decide if it seems easy to understand.
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.