Recently a number of people have asked my advice about how to become a crochet designer or indeed how to improve their design choices. I started to make a few notes and eventually I thought I might share these thoughts with you here.
Build your confidence
If you have been crocheting for a while you might have already started tweaking your favourite patterns to make the odd ‘improvement’ here and there. Don’t be afraid. These changes will ensure you build your confidence and start to discover your own design style. By adding or decreasing stitches here and there you can watch how a design can alter quite dramatically.
Make it your own
If you allow yourself some freedom and invention time you will soon find yourself building up an brand new stitch or a pattern from scratch. Do remember a few well judged alterations do not make a brand new pattern. If you want to make your first original pattern my suggestion is to not refer to a book or pattern at all during the design process, and see where your invention takes you.
Designing takes time
Most designers might take a few goes at getting a pattern right. They will work up some colour and stitch examples called ‘swatches’ and ensure they know how many stitches and rows it will take to make a 10cm x 10cm square. In any pattern where you feel really unhappy about the final result don’t be afraid to rip it back. Be brave and keep going. You will be glad that you took the time.
Choosing a colour scheme
Sometimes I can get stuck in a rut devising new colour schemes. I go back to my old favourite combinations and forget they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. When I need a little bit of inspiration I sometimes match yarns for a project with a birthday card or a book cover which I like. This way I can find some interesting and harmonious colour schemes which reflect current design trends.
Always have a notebook
The times I have kicked myself that I didn’t make notes about a design as I was developing the pattern. Writing up a pattern after the piece has been completed is always much harder work than if you have notes written along the way. I also find that mistakes are more likely to creep in this way as well. Now I try to discipline myself to have a pen and notebook always with me (if only I listened to my own advice).
BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK
The single most important stage in the finishing of your crochet design is blocking your work. Blocking is a technique where you dampen to relax all the fibres in the crochet, pin the work out to the desired shape and then when it dries the fibres align more uniformly and the item will keep its shape. There are several techniques to blocking depending on the yarn used or the size of the item and there are plenty of tutorials on the web to share with you the best technique. What I would say is that when people complain to me that their crochet doesn’t look like the finished items in books or magazine I always ask ‘Do you block your work?’, frequently the answer is, ‘No, I don’t have the patience!’ Well my biggest top tip is that blocking can transform your work and make it look much more professional.
Take time to photograph
When you have spent hours of precious time designing and making your crochet, it is always worth taking time to photograph your work. If you can use natural sunlight and find a background which is appropriate to your design or at least won’t detract from your fabulous stitches. If you need to, ask a friend to model any items of clothing but take time to look at the details. Through the lens make sure hair styles, make up or clothing compliment the colours of your design. You don’t have to be a full-on professional stylist, just have an eye for detail and make sure your crochet takes centre stage.
Inspiration can come from anywhere
The internet is a wonderful tool for inspiration but don’t forget to cast your net widely when you are looking for that spark to fire your imagination. I often wander into my local library when I am looking for new ideas. I find looking in the gardening, interiors, and cookery sections really inspirational. (The photo above is from the fabulous Meringue Girls Cookery book) Also why not have a quick flick through children’s books or magazines, you will spot new cute trends.
Find a friend
Finally if you have begun writing up your new patterns it is always best to find a friend with a beady eye. Few designers are able to spot the mistakes or the commissions they have made in their patterns (oh I wish I did). Sometimes you brain just makes an assumption and yet that means that the final written pattern doesn’t make any sense at all. If you have friend who has an eye for detail and can crochet ask them if your pattern makes sense to them. Catching these mistakes in the early development of a pattern can avoid frustration for people making up your pattern in the future.
These are only a few suggestions which I wish I had known when I started designing. But the most important thing is to have fun. If you enjoy your crochet this will be reflected in the end product and your joy and creativity will shine through.
www.deramores.com/blog-awards: This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.