Over the past six months or so I have quietly started to work on my own crochet patterns. I have stockpiled sketches and pattern notes for some designs that I really like. And I’ve stockpiled tons of crochet products that I’ve made as I’ve worked out these designs. Over this time I’ve developed a system that I like so far for beginning to explore crochet pattern design.
Find a yarn I love
I just find it most enjoyable and inspiring to choose my yarn first. It’s fun to work with a yarn that you love the texture of. There is no particular advantage to starting a pattern this way (and there may be some disadvantages, I suppose) but it works for me.
Find two inspiration pieces
Right now the way that I am approaching crochet design is by finding two different stitches or motifs that I like and looking for different ways to put them together into pieces. I start by finding the two stitches. I keep a bookmarked page of crochet inspiration online (adding pieces that I enjoy as I see them on blogs and sites) but more often that not I’ll flip through a crochet stitch dictionary to find the two pieces that I want to use. For example, lately I have been exploring the combination of double crossed crochet with the Y-branch stitch.
Start a scarf
For me the best way to begin playing with the two stitches together is to create a scarf. I’ll select a hook that I like for the yarn I’ve chosen (my default is H but it depends on the thickness of the yarn). Then I’ll get to work just making an item the length of the scarf, incorporating various combinations of my two stitches. I take pattern notes as I go so that I can see on paper what I’m doing in my hands. The scarf may or may not end up being beautiful but what it does is it gives me a long length of crocheted fabric to get an idea of how I do and don’t like the stitches together.
Make several other pieces in the same yarn
Based on the information I’ve gathered from the scarf I’ve created I will then make several other items in the same yarn using a refined combination of stitches. I might make a scarf, a cowl and a really simple skirt for example. This allows me to play around a little bit with increases and decreases and get a better sense of the pattern I am creating with my stitch combination.
Play around with other hook sizes and yarn
Different yarn will behave differently so I like to re-make one of my items (usually the cowl, but not always) in several different yarn types. I am typically playing around with yarn material and weight more so than color although I may intentionally work with a variegated yarn to see what difference that makes to the design.
Writing up the pattern
After doing all of this I have a good sense of what I like doing with the pattern and can create specific items for which I write up the pattern. Since I have all of my notes I just write up the pattern based on those and the finished product that I’ve decided I want to create a pattern for. I then create a brand new item working just from the pattern (trying to ignore my memory) to see if the pattern works. Ultimately as I grow my work I’ll start using pattern testers at this stage, of course, but I’m not there yet.
So this is how I’ve been approaching basic crochet pattern design in the early stages of my crochet career. Any tips and thoughts on this that might help me improve the process?