The Designing Process – Part Three: Beginning and Tweaking

So you’ve got your yarn, a handful of suggested hook sizes and the materials you will need for finishing. Now where do you go from there?

If you are just hopping in here, take a look at the earlier issues to this series: Crocheting from Scratch, Developing an Idea, and Planning & Getting Supplies.

Where to Begin

I like to start by making a few notes. Just the very basic idea in writing on the same page as I am going to write my pattern so as to keep it straight in my mind while crocheting, as well as remind me of certain key points in case I lay the project aside for a time, or refer back to it at some later date.

If you have a good solid idea of what you want and how to get it then just get started. Knowing the basics of crochet is obviously necessary, but the encouraging thing is, all patterns are built around the basics. Before you even get to complicated-looking cables or in depth graphs, you will first begin with the basics of crochet: chaining, stitches like single crochet, double crochet, slip stitch, and rows and rounds.

Taking Chances or Planning It Out

My natural tendency at times it to just begin and see if it works out. Sometimes you may have a good enough understanding of how to get what you want that it only takes a few minor tweaks. However, I find that I am much more confident about the ending result when I have it well planned out.

For example, when planning for both the Bridgitte Bunny Pillow and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle Pillow, I used a pencil outline on a sheet of poster board to refer to while crocheting to ensure the pillow panels would stay the shape I intended and not get out of line. This also helped me see where I was going to need to shape. I could have just eye-balled it, but I know the results would have been less satisfactory if I had. So I like to use an outline like the one you see pictured for certain types patterns.

Diagrams and Color Charts

Before ever learning to crochet I did a multitude of cross-stitch projects that taught me how to follow a diagram. In crochet, there are a lot of patterns that offer diagrams with unique symbols representing the different stitches and instructions. (See Crochet Spot’s How to Read Diagrams for further reading on the subject). There are many people who prefer this to actual written patterns. However, I haven’t attempted designing in this manner as of yet, but it’s on my list.

Whether you prefer diagrams or not, there are other uses for them outside of this. Color charts, for instance, are very handy for visualizing the pattern you wish to make. Carmen of Crafty Queens (see Why It is Good to Crochet Others Patterns and Rustic Mountains) used and easy to understand color chart to instruct crocheters how to work the snowy drifts of her mountain pillow pattern.

For less complicated color patterns though, such as my Jungle Rhythm baby blanket where I wanted the stripes to be inconsistent, I have give instructions like this:

Color Pattern 
6 rows of color A
3 rows of color B
6 rows of color C
3 rows of color A
6 rows of color B
3 rows of color C
Repeat color pattern ending with 6 rows of color A

Construction of a Snappy Fedora | Free Pattern in 3 Sizes

Making Adjustments

Ripping and frogging are both terms for the dreaded process of pulling out your work. As a designer, you may not like having to rip out your work — in fact, who does? — but you must embrace the need if you are to achieve worthwhile quality. A designer who is too afraid or reluctant to rip, and rip again, will not get very far because, after all, one rarely gets a pattern right the first time.

When designing the Chunky Puff Stitch Cap and Scarf Set set I am sure I ripped the scarf at least 15 times. If you think I’m exaggerating, wait until you’ve had some experience. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often, but when faced with a flawed design, no matter how many hours of work has been put into it, one must consider it carefully. If you are tempted to let it slide, ask yourself, will I be sacrificing my original idea or the quality of my project? Then you might also ask yourself, am I being too perfectionistic about this? Is it truly too small and inconsequential for anyone but me to notice? Only you can decide the answer to those questions, and that’s your privilege as the designer. And yet I encourage you to strive for quality and don’t settle for second best.

Changing Hook Sizes

We’ve already talked about having a few different hook sizes to choose from in order to get the desired gauge for the project (see part two). If you’ve done any crocheting chances are you’ve dealt with hook changes when attempting to meet the designers gauge. When I designed the Maui beach Tote, I started off with hook L/8.00mm but ended up using hook I/5.50mm for a tighter, less flexible pattern. Keep in mind the desired gauge you will want for your project. A stiff gauge may be good for a beach tote but you want something loose, with good drape for a sweater. This is one of the main reasons I have for ripping a pattern, changing hook sizes. Once again, my advice is, don’t skimp! Proper gauge can be the only thing between a flop and a treasured design.

Zaylee Baby Blanket | Free Pattern

Beware of Expanding

If you’ve never designed before it may come as a surprise to you when your first row meets your length standards but by row 20 it has stretched an inch or more. Your pattern will stretch as you build on it. Sometimes this isn’t important but it is good to be able to foresee.

Baby blankets for instance, can be any size you want, but I like to keep as close to the average sizes as much as possible. It may take some time and many rows to know for sure, but I suggest making the foundation chain, or at least the first row, one or two inches shorter than the intended measurements.

Whatever difficulties you may encounter, don’t loose hope! Remember why you wanted to start designing in the first place and don’t forget to have fun.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this third part of The Designing Process. This series is not meant to be exhaustive, only helpful to those with an interest in crocheting. However, if I have left some things out that you feel is worthy of note, don’t hesitate to leave me a message. You can comment below the post, email me at OceansAmy(at)gmail(dot)com, or reach me through any of my social media accounts, accessible at the top of this page!

Thanks for reading and be sure to come back Friday for a brand new, free crochet pattern!

See other posts on the series:

Intro: Crocheting from Scratch
Part One: Developing an Idea
Part Two: Planning and Supplies

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