How to Write a Crochet Pattern



Welcome to my kitchen. I have been planning to write this post for a very long time. Before I started to create my own crochet patterns, I was searching for information about how to write them. But today, after 1.5 years of designing I am ready to share my own experience with you. When you see the headline you may probably think this post is not for you. But designing is not something that only the designers can do. Two years ago I couldn’t even imagine that one day I will start to create my own designs. But once I took the hook and yarns, and for the first time I didn’t use any pattern. And something new grew in my hands. And I liked the result. And this is what can happen to anyone.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet


Before writing this post I was thinking about the reasons why it can be interesting and useful for you. And I came up with several ideas:

  • Designing is a very creative process that can bring you out of your comfort zone and help your own creativity to grow.
  • When you create something yourself it is good to write the pattern down at once so that you don’t forget it and can use it again and again to create wonderful gifts for your family and friends.
  • Once you write your own first pattern, it will be easier for you to read other patterns too. Till now I am struggling to follow written instruction made by other designers. I am a very visual type of person and for me it is not easy to read patterns at all. But what I can do is rewrite the patterns in my own way, so that it is easier to follow them.

From my own designing experience I came up with several steps (or phases) on a way to a finished crochet pattern.

1. Designing


If you want to write a crochet pattern you first should create something. No matter what it will be. It may be a very simple project made with three-four rounds or rows. I cannot give you the recipe of how to design. For me it is a very irrational, creative and intimate process. It’s not necessary to have an idea before you start to design something new. Of course you might have this idea in mind… For example, you want to create a small Christmas star, or a mandala, or a bunny. But very often when I start to crochet, I have no ideas at all. I just take my hook, my leftovers of yarn and start to crochet playing with the stitches and colors.

I am so happy I saved the samples of my Dandelion Mandala - so now I can show you what a designing process can be for me. When I decided to create this mandala I was pretty sure it will be a dandelion. How does a dandelion look (when it’s white)? There is a structured centre and a big fluffy ball, right? This is how it all started.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

It took me very long time to come up with something which was satisfying enough. I don’t really remember how many “beginnings” I had. Here are just three of them.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

And here is the result.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

Because of lots of ripping and redoing it is better to use cheap yarn for designing. And leftovers are the best. While designing I don’t care about colors at all. No matter what the colorway is. The most important is pattern itself.

2. Taking notes


A separate notebook is what you need for writing your patterns down. The size of the notebook and the amount of pages is totally up to you. This is mine. I like it very much. Its cover is very inspiring as I am hopelessly in love with the sea. Maybe one day I will move to Sweden, or to some other country with an access to the sea. I will rent a small house by the coast and will listen to the music of waves every day and every night…

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

Anyway, coming back to the patterns. You need a notebook to write your patterns down. It’s better if you have a separate one and don’t write anything else except of your crochet there. I usually take notes already while designing – not to forget what was exactly done on every round. Very often I have to turn the page and to rewrite everything once again with lots of changes. But it’s very important to have all the notes written down. As later you may change your mind and decide to come back to the very first version.

Once the project is finished and you are satisfied with its final look, you will probably need to remake it once again and to write the pattern down exactly, stitch by stitch. And then the previous notes may be very helpful for you.

Sometimes I draw small pictures of my projects as they help me to see the final structure and count the stitches. Here is a Dandelion mandala. Do you recognize it? :)

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

Don’t be afraid to make corrections in your notes. You may use pens or pencils of different colors to correct, rewrite and add some extra notes. As soon as you are able to read through your notes – that’s ok. But once it gets too messy, you may probably need to turn your page over and start from the beginning. This is how my own notes look sometimes. And I am still able to understand and follow them :)

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

3. Crochet Abbreviations


You have probably seen lots of crochet patterns in different magazines, or you have probably bought patterns from independent crochet designers. And you may know that crochet abbreviations are usually used in them. Abbreviations help to make the patterns less wordy and shorter.

In every country there are different crochet terms and abbreviation used. And it’s up to you which ones to choose. I usually use US terms. Not because they are the best in my opinion, but because first crochet patterns I read used these terms. And when I decided to design my own projects, it was very easy for me to use them as well. Please, check this Crochet Translation Project to see how crochet terms are converted from different systems.

4. Writing the pattern down


When you feel your project is finished and all the notes are taken down, now it’s time to write your first crochet pattern. You have probably noticed that every crochet pattern has more or less the same structure. You may take your favourite pattern as a template and fill all the categories with your own information.

First of all you should give your pattern a name. This part is very often the hardest for me, but sometimes I have the name before I start to crochet. You should also take a nice picture of your finished project. I usually give a short introduction in the pattern where I write some interesting details about it. For example in my Wondering Owl Pillow pattern I tell about different ways to use this pillow. For example, as a tablet cozy, bag or backpack, storage for toys.


Wondering Owl Pillow - designed by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

Then you should give the materials list (all materials and tools needed to create this project – yarns, colors, amounts, hook size, some additional material like buttons, stuffing, safety eyes for amigurumi and so on). You should also note the finished size of your project and the gauge (if it’s possible to define). You should also include the difficulty level of your pattern. If it's suitable for beginners, intermediate or advanced crocheters. You can check these guidlines from a Craft Yarn Council to see what you should take into consideration while deciding about a difficulty level.

 Then there should be a list of abbreviations used in the pattern. And I also prefer to give a stitch guide explaining how every stitch should be done – with written instructions.

After all this basic information you may include some extra/important notes about your pattern. For example you may advice which colors to choose, or which yarn works the best for this particular project. You can also write about the adjustments which can help to transform this project into something else.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet

And then the part with instructions comes. You should write down every round/row. I prefer to also use many pictures to illustrate every round. But I do this mainly because I work in overlay crochet technique, and sometimes it is very tricky to understand the pattern from written instructions only.

The most important thing about the instructions is that they must be easy to follow. Sometimes I feel that instructions are too complicated, or too long. But from my own crochet experience I know (!) that every instruction can be reworked many times to be simplified. Sometimes you only need to change the position of where new yarn is attached and your instructions for the whole round will become twice shorter. At this stage mathematics works very well. I am not a programmer (unfortunately) but I feel that writing a crochet pattern is in many ways similar to writing the programming code. The best instructions are simple and elegant. And if I can get them - it makes me feel very happy!

And in the very end of your crochet pattern you may want to add a short note with copyright information letting other people know in which way they can use it and what are the restrictions.

5. Testing the pattern


No matter what is the reason why you decided to write a crochet pattern down (for yourself, for your friend, as a freebie for your blog or to sell it), it is very important to test it before it gets a new life. Even if you took the notes for yourself only, it is good to test them at once (and you can do it yourself). Because if there are some errors left, it might be very difficult to correct them later when you are already disconnected with the project and don’t remember every single stitch you made.

Of course you can test the pattern yourself, but it is better to ask someone to do it for you. If you have friends who like to crochet, you can ask them to help you. If you are thinking of selling your patterns in the future, then it may be useful to find some professional and experienced testers to help you. Why it is important to invite other people to test (I would recommend to have at least 5 testers for each pattern)? Because different people will look at your patterns differently and they will help you to clear some confusing part out, to (maybe) change the wordings, and to correct errors of course!

If you don’t know anyone who could help you with this (two years ago I also knew no one), you can join some large groups on Ravelry with lots of friendly people who will be happy to test for you. For example you can check Free Pattern Testers or The Happy Hookers’ Hangout group. The rules in both groups are more or less the same. They may seem a bit complicated at the first glance. But once you start to use them, everything will become very clear. Moderators in both groups are very nice and they will guide you through all the steps.

How to write a crochet pattern - Simple and detailed guidelines by Lilla Bjorn Crochet


I hope this post was inspiring for you, as I really want to encourage you bring your own creative power out and to create something on your own :)

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15 comments

  1. I love this! Nice to get into that creative mind of yours!

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  2. Thank you for the insight and inspiration.

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  3. Thank you for putting up this post. It was very helpful!

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  4. Fabulous. I got this in my e-mail and only yesterday I spent about 12 hours writing my first pattern!!! Thankfully I have pretty much got it down the way you recommend, but I feel much happier now that I have this for reassurance. I'm still only about two thirds of the way through mine,but I'm off to investigate the links for having it tested which is what I was worrying about the most, so thank you, thank you, thank you once again! :-)

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  5. Thank you so much! I was thinking just a few days ago that I now have quite a few projects finished, but don't know how to write a pattern for them! This was very useful! Again, THANK YOU, very much. :-)

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  6. thank you so much for this info, I am wanting to do my own designs but dont know where to start or what im going to do, i know eventually im going to have one of those AHA!moments I hope soon. thanks again!!!

    susanne

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  7. Thank so much for this! I've been wanting to design my own crochet patterns and someone suggested the same thing to me today! I went searching and found your article; love what you had to share!

    Thanks so much!

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  8. Thank you! You are inspiring me yet more :)

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  9. Thank you Tatsiana, this is a very helpful and interesting article and also tremendously inspiring!
    I have written a few crochet designs and loved the process.
    I stay about 6 hours drive from the sea and am also dreaming of living there. I have my art room all worked out, overlooking the sea. :-) Space for my yarn and crochet as well as my scrapbooking and mixed media art. <3
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.
    Hugs from South Africa
    Erica

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  10. This is great. I have a few patterns I have created but I can't figure out what to name my pattern. How do you come up with good names?

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    1. Don't ask me :) Because I have no idea. They just come. Or don't come... more often.

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  11. Thank you very much for this useful post.

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    1. Thank you very much Tatsiana!! very helpful, as always you are ! <3

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  12. Thank you very much for all your helpful information on writing crochet patterns ,i have been making up my own patterns for a long time but find it difficult to write them down. Do you think it would be a good idea to learn how to draw charts as well? i have just designed a baby cardigan and made myself write it as well, but i do find that part of it difficult,does it get easier the more that you do it? Kind Regards Diane Street

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    1. Of course pattern writing is just the same as any other skill - it needs time and practice. And every time it will get easier and easier. And yes, I agree that with some projects it is easier to draw the chart first, and then to write the pattern down. And many people prefer to see both written instructions and charts in the patterns.

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