Have you ever wondered what goes into designing and writing a crochet pattern? It’s different for everyone, but I thought it would be fun to share my process with all of you. This is part 5 of a series of behind-the-scenes posts, where you can join me as I work through a new design.
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The sample piece is well underway and it’s time to start writing up what I’ve done before I forget. I usually try to have the bulk of the pattern written before I seam or finish a piece. This way if my notes are lacking or I need to refer to my work for any reason, it’s easier to see the edges. I finished the main pieces on 12/11, but didn’t get a chance to sit down and start writing up the pattern until 12/15.
Back to my notes
As I worked on the sample, I fleshed out my grading spreadsheet with more calculations and measurements. I added ease in some spots, worked out rates of decrease and increase, etc. This way, with every decision I made I could check that the math worked for all the sizes. At this point, my spreadsheet looks like this.
This is most of the pattern right here…with a few of the details (like armhole and neckline shaping) scribbled on bits of paper. Now I just need to put it all into words.
The easiest way to start writing a new pattern is to copy a recent one. Over time I’ve developed a format I’m happy with for my pattern posts, and this way all the formatting is there already and I just fill in the new information. This does mean, however, that I have to be extra careful not to leave things in there from the previous pattern! Some things, like pictures and descriptions (and a name), can be added later. For now I just put placeholders in those spots as reminders.
Abbreviations, resources, notes, and special stitches
As I write, I pay special attention to the abbreviations and stitches I’m using. Do I need to explain what I mean by that stitch? Am I going to need to add a photo or link to a tutorial? Is it worth making a tutorial (and do I have time)? You may have noticed I’ve already published a tutorial for the herringbone stitch, mainly because I knew I wanted to reference it in this pattern. I plan to have another out soon, showing how to increase and decrease in the herringbone stitch. If I do think I need to add something in, but don’t want to pause in writing the instructions, I just make a note of it so I can add it in later. My goal at this point is to get the pattern to where it can be tested, as quickly as possible. The rest can be done later.
Every time I needed a new calculation or made a change, I updated the grading spreadsheet as well. This way, if someone asks me questions about the pattern later, or if issues come up during testing, I can look back at the math to see what I did. Writing up the instructions part of the pattern took me about 4 hours the first time. Then I realized I could make it about 20 lines shorter on the front sections by adding or subtracting a row or a stitch here and there. It took me about another 3 hours to make those changes, which involved reworking the math for several sections. Overall it was about 7-8 hours work, spread out over 2 days. I finished it on 12/16.