Designing and Selling Your Crochet Patterns Pt 2: Writing Patterns
In part 1 of this series we covered “Steps to Pattern Design and Selling” as a general overview of crochet pattern design and selling. If you haven’t read the previous post I suggest you go back and check it out prior to diving deep into the subsequent parts. If you’re ready for part 2, let’s begin! This post will focus entirely on pattern writing. In part 1 I included a list of 11 items to include in your patterns. I’ve expanded that list to include other items which may further enhance the quality of your future patterns. I will be transparent on how my pattern writing style compares to the expanded list. I may or may not utilize each item, but I will be sure to include how each item is beneficial. The more comfortable you become with writing your patterns, the easier it will become to refine your formatting and style.
My posts may contain affiliate links! If you make a purchase through any of my links, you will not assume any additional cost, although I will receive a small commission directly from the vendor. This small act helps me continue to provide these resources for free. Thank you!
Below I’ve included a basic format for writing patterns! Read through each item to determine how you can translate your designs into a written format. As I mentioned in part 1, a design journal and a pattern template will help simplify your approach to each item on this list. You’re basically taking the information you gathered from your design journal and placing it into the format of your chosen template! These tools will help save a lot of time, energy, and reduce your time staring at a computer screen. I use templates provided by the Debrosse Masterclass . I’ll discuss the Masterclass further in part 3 of this series. Feel free to leave any questions regarding the resources provided by the Debrosse Masterclass in the comments below. If you’re interested in a template without taking the course, simply choose templates in the menu on the Debrosse website. There you’ll find a template and other readily accessible resources that don’t require course access! Feel free to do your own research and seek out other downloadable template files and other resources.
1. Cover Page
No matter the final form your patterns will take: digital download, e-book, print; it needs a cover. The cover page of a pattern is a designated area to showcase the finished form or graphic of your design and lists you as the author of the pattern. I ALWAYS include a cover to my patterns! I have used a graphic image and photos as cover images. I don’t have an image preference. Utilizing a cover page guarantees a clean and professional appearance to any pattern.
2. Pattern Introduction
Have you ever seen a design, instantly fell in love, but had zero clue when/where/how you’d ever justify purchasing the pattern or the yarn to make it? If your answer is yes, consider including an introduction in your own patterns to help eliminate these questions for potential makers interested in your work! Adding an introduction to a pattern is simple way to set intentions for what’s to come of the pattern and end result. Introductions aren’t necessary, but they’re great for painting a picture of how your design can be used in a practical setting. If you would rather jump straight to the important aspects of the design, consider adding this information to the “Notes” section of your pattern. I haven’t been one to include an introduction, although I appreciate patterns that do. I prefer to use my pattern listings as introductions, and include all other information the pattern’s notes.
3. Skill Level
Including the skill level will help your readers determine if they’re prepared to execute your instructions. Consider adding this information to your pattern listing and/or introductions as well. Skill level acknowledgement shouldn’t be seen as a deterrent, but as a guide and a moment for transparency of what lies ahead.
The hook size used is a REQUIRED item to include in your pattern. Your audience needs to be aware of what size hook you used to ensure they can replicate your design to desired measurements. Tension is relative to the maker, but without prior knowledge of the hook size or acknowledging another hook could be used to obtain gauge, you’re leaving your audience in the dark. You want to be crystal clear when it comes to the details that make your design possible. The only instances a hook size would be left out of a pattern is if it’s purely accidental, or the designer makes the pattern “recipe” style with final measurements being determined by the audiences’ personal preference.
The gauge for your pattern is another major requirement! Stitch and row totals and final measurements are all determined by your gauge. A standard gauge swatch is a 4×4″ square with the width represented by stitches and the length represented by rows/rounds. Be sure to block your gauge swatch! Blocking the gauge swatch will reveal more accurate totals for stitches and rows used to determine finished measurements. This is an important step for projects that will be washed and dried. Your gauge will help any maker using your pattern determine if their tension is too tight, too loose, or just right. The first pattern I ever released was for The Cosmos Beanie. I included a gauge, but had no clue how relevant this information was to the final measurements of the design. After releasing more patterns and becoming more knowledgeable, I’ve since gone back and edited the gauge so my beanie pattern has precise information.
5. Finished Measurements
Finished measurements are particularly important for garment, accessories, and home décor designs. Anyone interested in completing a project with your pattern should be aware how large/small or loose/fitted their final result will be. These measurements may or may not affect notions required for your pattern. Some designs are created with the intention of being modified based on personal preference; they could potentially exclude finished measurements. These types of projects may included but are not limited to scarves and wall hangings. I do my best to include finished measurements as a guide or point of reference.
6. Yarn weight and total yardage required
Yarn weight category and yardage totals are obvious necessities, but it’s easy to skip over and forget the inclusion of seemingly obvious items. Neglecting to include this information will create multiple headaches for you and any other maker interested in your work. If you’re creating patterns that include multiple sizes of your designs, be sure to have each additional size tested for accuracy of yardage per yarn weight category. No one wants a pattern that lacks necessary details. As I mentioned, testing ensures the accuracy of the information provided. Testing should also help identified information that’s been omitted.
7. Notions, i.e., scissors, buttons, sewing needle
If anything besides a hook and yarn are required be sure to list all items. The skill level of your audience may vary. Don’t assume everyone interested in your work will automatically have access to the same tools and materials you used to complete your designs. Listing all notions will setup your audience for success prior to starting work on their own versions of your design. I have to quadruple check to make sure I include all notions I use for my patterns. It’s easy to forget the smaller details. Consider making a list of necessary notions as you’re making your sample. You’ll be able to refer back to this list when it’s time to formatting your pattern.
As mentioned in the Pattern Introduction, this portion of the pattern may be used to gives insight, set intentions, or creates a scene for your audience. Pattern notes can be used to define specialty stitches used throughout your pattern, clarifies construction, and this information will used to setup the instructions. Pattern templates help clearly define and detail any information you wish to include. I typically use the notes section of my patterns to define specialty stitches, state how stitches create specific textures, and answer any question that may arise while using my patterns.
9. Stitch and row/round totals
Details, details, and more details. I can’t say it enough how all details matter. At times this may seem redundant to state how many stitches are in each row/round of your work. If your work has very few changes in stitch count, then only include when your total number of stitches change. After stating your total once, it’s only necessary to clarify when totals change. As far as rows are concerned, you do want to start each line of instructions or groupings of repeats with whatever current row your reader would be working on.
10. Row by row and/or round by round instructions
Again, this may seem super obvious, but I can’t stress enough how much details matter. What would be second nature to you, may not be to someone reading your pattern. If your pattern has a single or multiple row repeat, the repeat(s) needs to be stated in its entirety how it should be worked. Once this is done, you can abbreviate instructions to simply stating repeat whichever rows are relevant to the pattern respectively. This is another area where charts may come in handy. Charts may be used as visual aid to enhance the clarity of instructions and help abbreviate instructions. Charts aren’t necessary, but do come in handy for more advanced skills and designs.
Pictures come in handy if/when you feel as though your own words aren’t as clear as you’d prefer. Pictures are in no way mandatory. They do help provide visual assistance which can be very beneficial. Crochet pattern instructions don’t always follow the same rules and steps as they’re interpreted from designer to designer. Some designers will go as far as finding links to or recording their own video clips. This does further assist in the understanding of instructions, but it is added work. I rarely include pictures in my patterns simply because it’s extra work. I don’t consider this lazy or inconsiderate. We all have different preferences for the presentation of our work. If you take the time to include photo/video tutorials be sure the price of your pattern reflects ALL of your hard work!
12. Assembly and/or finishing information
If any blocking, seaming, addition of tassels/ fringe, use of a form/insert, etc is necessary to complete your design include that information. Leave nothing to the imagination or for interpretation unless stated otherwise. Finishing details are just as important as the construction.
13. Care instructions
I added care instructions to this list as a reminder that I need to start adding this in my current and future patterns. I, like many other designers, leave care to the discretion of my audience. At the very least, care instructions should be included to help makers extend the longevity of their projects. Of course we can’t account for every type of yarn alternative, but we can include the care for the suggested yarn we use to create our designs.
Your copyright legally protects your intellectual property! There should be no question whether or not to include a copyright. Not including your copyright is an open invitation to the public to copy or steal your work and profit at your expense. In the copyright disclaimer clearly define what is or isn’t allowed by the consumer. Can replicas made from your pattern be sold? Is the pattern for personal use only? Are your pictures or instructions available for public use? Those are examples of questions you need to answer in your copyright. You can choose to give our pattern away for free, but the parameters of a copyright disclaimer are still available to protect you in any instance where integrity isn’t present. All of my work is copyrighted, included this website in its entirety. See my copyright disclaimer at the end of this post.
15. Contact information
Including contact information creates a line of communication between you and your audience. If anyone has a concern with interpreting your instructions, or wants to express their gratitude for your work they’ll need to know how to reach you! Take out the guesswork and include your most reliable methods of contact. I include my direct email and all social media platforms; giving my audience multiple outlets to reach me.
Now that you have all of your information gathered and put into your template you can create a .pdf file. Your template should come with simple instructions to help you achieve a .pdf, or simply use a word processor. If a tech editing is an options have your pattern tech edited prior to releasing it to testers. If tech editing isn’t feasible, you’ll simply skip straight to having your pattern tested by a group of your peers to check for accuracy and clarity. Go back to part 1 of this series if you need a refresh on pattern testing. Once your pattern has passed the testing phase you’ll need to decide which platform(s) best align with your intentions to sell or share your pattern. In part 3 of this series I will share a more comprehensive break down of various platforms to consider utilizing for listing your digital patterns!
That’s all from me for now! I do hope you’ve found this information useful, and it’s provided answers to lingering questions about pattern writing. Reach out in the comments below and let’s chat! Enjoy & Happy designing!
© 2020 Leah Gordon, IPWF ; All rights reserved.
It is illegal to redistribute, sell or share this post in part or in whole, electronically or physically as your own.