How to Write a Crochet Pattern – You really can write your own!
Since I began crocheting in 2013, I’ve worked with A LOT of patterns. Some of them have been good, some bad, and some have been EXCELLENT! The goal for any maker who writes a pattern is to make it possible for someone to duplicate your work. (Like a paint by numbers, but with yarn!!) There are tons of ways to go about writing a pattern! The more clear your instructions can be, the happier your customers will be. Happy customers mean good reviews which could lead to the ultimate goal: more sales!
Patterns can consist of multiple parts: Intro, The Rules, Measurements, Gauge, Materials, Stitch Abbreviations, and The Steps.
Not all of these parts are necessary for every pattern. When in doubt, more detail is better. Before we get too far…. USE FONT THAT IS EASY TO READ! Font is no place to get fancy. Let your work be the fancy part!
The Intro: This could be as simple as a picture of the item, your logo and the name. Some of the more interesting patterns have a bit of detail about how this pattern was invented. You could write how it got it’s name, some detail about you and your business, or a quote that says something to your customer about you as a maker. It can be a tiny part that establishes a connection between makers.
The Rules: It might seem obvious that a pattern buyer shouldn’t ever resell a pattern, but you’d be surprised how frequently patterns are stolen. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened to me personally, but I do know a few makers who have watched someone else profit from their hard work and creative genius. Here is an example of what you might say:
Please do not alter, change, share, or sell this pattern as your own.
Feel free to sell your finished work, but credit my shop (insert shop name).
That is, of course, if you are allowing the maker to sell their finished work. I always do because I think it’s great for a maker to profit from their skill and that’s just more of my designs out in the world!
Measurements: How big is this thing? If the size of the finished piece is important, include those dimensions! I find this to be less important than the Gauge of my stitches.
Gauge: We all have different tensions. My mom and I have completely different tensions so our work looks completely different even when we’re making the same thing! My stitches are often way too tight, while hers are a bit more normal haha! I usually have to go up a hook size and she would have to come down for us to match our work. When I do this part, I ALWAYS use the same main stitch from the pattern. If my scarf is mostly double crochet then my gauge swatch will be too. I’ve seen gauge sections with a completely different stitch!
Confession time! As a lazy maker, I rarely do a gauge test before diving into the pattern.
Mine usually instructs makers to make the swatch like a tiny pattern then provide the measurement of my finished square. (See picture above for an example of my gauge section.) Some designers list a number of stitches and a measurement (12 stitches = 4 inches for example). Either way will give your customer an idea of how big your stitches are and what they’re trying to replicate.
Gauge is an important step. Don’t skip it.
Materials: Yarn size (Maybe include which yarn you used in the picture) and how much you used of each color. Try to be as accurate as possible so your buyers don’t need to go back to the yarn store. Unless they want to! 😉
Hook or needle size, Yarn needle, Scissors, Measuring tape, and stitch markers are all good things to list. If you have anything special, be sure to include those. Buttons, for example, would need to be listed for my Bandit Scarf pattern.
Stitch Abbreviations: Always list if you’re using US or UK terms! They are different!
If you’re going to use any shorthand, be sure to properly explain it. When I was learning, I would have to type a bunch of abbreviations into google to try to sort out what they meant. That was frustrating as a beginner. Here are a bunch of abbreviations:
chain – ch
single crochet – sc
half double crochet – hdc
double crochet – dc
treble crochet – tc
slip stitch – slst
single crochet 2 together – sc2tog
back or front loop only – BLO or FLO
back or front post sc – bpsc or fpsc…… and so on and so on (crochet has a lot of stitches!)
The Steps: The most important part of the pattern, of course. You can check some of the other posts in my blog to see how I write out the steps. More detail is always better. Separate your rounds clearly. Be sure to note if your chains count as stitches. Provide stitch counts after each round or row. Are you crocheting into the space right next to your chains? When you sit down to make a new design, you should keep very accurate notes!
Something I always do no matter what the pattern is… add pictures. Many pattern writers don’t add pictures. That’s totally fine! Many pattern readers don’t need them. If you’re writing a beginner pattern, you need to speak to the beginner. I’ve got an intermediate pattern as well as a beginner pattern (linked above) on my blog and they both contain quite a few pictures. You’ll have fewer follow up questions from your customers if you provide a visual.
At the end, I always congratulate the maker and give them information on how to share their finished work with me! #gingerknots or @ginger.knots
There is nothing like seeing those finished projects and sharing them! It truly makes my day like nothing else.
If you’ve written your pattern in Microsoft Word, go up to “save as” and save it as a PDF!
Now all you have to do is ask for testers, list it in your Etsy shop, and learn all about SEO!! 🙂