The Designing Process – Part One: Developing an Idea

Welcome back to The Designing Process series, where I talk about designing your own crochet patterns!

Today I’m going to talk about the first part of pattern designing which is developing ideas. In this entry I will cover how to get inspiration and what to do then. If you’ve just jumped in here, be sure to check out the introduction here for a explanation on what you can expect from this series.

The wonderful thing about crochet pattern designing is that you’re the boss. You can make anything, however unorthodox it may be, and you can make it just how you want. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head during something totally unconnected. Other times I only have a semblance of an idea and I have to round it out myself. Naturally I really love having an idea shape itself. You know what I mean? When it all seems to come together so easily and perfectly as if someone else did it for you, just like you would.

But that is not always the case. Often I have a slight idea of what to make but no idea how I want to go about it or what supplies I want to use. I have to pull out the crochet stitch books and rummage through stitch patterns or some other form of inspiration, which I will go into more below.

I like a good challenge though, so I can’t help but get a little excited when I am asked to make something in particular. For example, a good friend wanted a few chunky infinity scarves in a charcoal color to give as bridesmaids gifts. She wanted each scarf to have the monogram of the one receiving the scarf in a different color. It took me a few tries to find the perfect yarn for the job and a few more tries to find the perfect size and stitch. It wasn’t easy, but in the end I had gained some priceless experience and realized that I could meet the required demands.

Finding Inspiration for a Project

Over the years I have found inspiration in many various ways. I like to start with a need. Look around you, at your home for instance. Does your kitchen need some new linens? Does your living room need a few more pillows or a throw? Or look at the people you know. Does anyone need hats, scarves, sweaters even? This is usually where “likes” come into play. Maybe my sister doesn’t need a cupcake hat, but she would sure love one. In fact, the things my family has requested I make for them over the years could probably fill a book. The sad thing is I am too busy designing for business to do anything else, and I regret not being able to make more for them. Of course, when it comes to a crocheted Twi’lek hat or a knight’s mantle, my regret turns to amusement.

Look Around You

Other ways to get inspiration is in nature and the things around you. One thing that always inspires me in both pattern and color is the sky. I love the mix of flaming colors when the sun is setting, or the soft colors of a cool spring day. When the clouds are wispy I think of a lacy pattern, or when they look like ocean waves I think of ways to create a sunrise scene, with the frothy waves giving way to a glowing sun.

Some people find their inspiration in the city, long lines from the looming high-rises or geometric shapes from the patterns on the wall of an office. At first the idea of looking for inspiration everywhere may seem hard and unlikely, but the more you try the more you train yourself to see inspiration all the time.

Check out my Pinterest profile for crochet inspiration.

The Cyber World

And yet there are simpler forms of inspiration, like the internet for instance. Pinterest is my go-to for inspiration. Check out my profile and the many boards I have on yarn crafting called A Fibrous Life. I have been using Pinterest to inspire me for new pattern ideas for a long time, so my boards can get a little full. Recently I divided them between a few more specifically named boards for easier access. I also have a Crochet Inspiration board that looks very random. On this board I pin whatever inspires me, from scenic pictures to retro items. If it gives me an idea then onto the board it goes. I also love the color palettes that people make where they take a lovely scenic picture and pull out a few of the most notable colors. This really helps when I am looking for color choices.

There are other places though that really inspire, like Ravelry, or any other site offering crochet patterns. However, when taking inspiration direct from a pattern be very careful to not copy the pattern itself and thus end up infringing upon another designer’s rights. This has been a subject of debate for me and each person must carefully assess what this means for themselves.

The Professional Crocheter

For the hobby crocheter, it’s simply a matter of what pleases you. But if you’re crocheting for business, there are a few things that you might consider as well as what I have already mentioned.

When crocheting professional, you want to design something that will appeal to a larger amount of people. You can never please everyone, and clearly, you should never try. But it’s good to know what kind of things the general public is liking these days. For instance, what colors seem to be in vogue this season, or what style is in. This year, boho is the new hippy and bold floral the new black. This is where the internet really comes in handy. You can do a quick scan of your Pinterest feed to see this years prevailing styles.

But what if you don’t like boho or bold florals? That’s okay. Because not everyone does. The most important thing to remember when designing is to keep it personal. Don’t design something you hate merely because it’s “in” or you will most likely have a flop on your hands. Create a brand that is all you and that is what will draw people in. A person who is unique will stand out among the crowd, as we all know, and be respected for their individual personality, whereas someone who only copies everyone else will go unnoticed.

A sketch I did for my Bridgette Bunny Pillow.

What to Do Then 

So what’s the next step? Once you have an idea you can move right on to the planning stage. However, I am the type that likes to get things down on paper where I can remember them better and see them clearer. I keep a typical lined notebook as my idea folder. It was originally where I wrote down my ideas but I soon found drawing them to be more effective. After I have used this up, I might decide to replace it with an actual sketch tablet. When I have a more thorough idea or multiple styles to choose between, I pull out my large sketch tablet. But the point is to quickly sketch a rough draft of your idea to remind you of what it looks like and any little details you have decided on. Aside from the one above, here are a few examples of what I like to do.

Alternate ideas for the Cupcake Delight pillow
The sketch for my Sweet Carousel mixed media project.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t draw well, as long as you know what you want, you’re all set to go on to the next stage of the pattern designing process.

I hope this post has been informative! If you have any questions or requests, let me know in the comment section below.

Be sure to come back next Monday for part two on planning and getting supplies!

See other posts in this series:

Intro: Crocheting from Scratch
Part Two: Planning and Supplies

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