Design Week, day 6: turning a design into a pattern

Welcome to day 6, the final day of Design Week! It’s been an absolute blast, and I want to thank everyone so much for taking the time to get creative and share your process with us all!

Today’s topic is to chat about your design’s future plans. So, I’m going to talk a little bit about the process involved in turning my designs into patterns.

Which designs become patterns?

Not every animal I crochet becomes a FreshStitches pattern. One example that cropped up recently is William:

I crocheted William the Hippo for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art I was taking (William the hippo, if you didn’t know, is the museum’s mascot).

I wanted to crochet a William, and one evening, I sat down and did just that. Just for fun.

I love him, and I think he’s adorable. But, just because I’ve crocheted him doesn’t mean I’m just a snap away from a pattern. Why not? Because once you’ve finished a design, there’s still a lot of work left to do!

I always giggle when someone asks me, ‘can’t you just type up the pattern?’ It’s true that there are lots of patterns that are posted on blogs… and that’s wonderful. However, because I design patterns professionally, every pattern I put out has to be top-quality. If I were to quickly type a pattern and post it on my blog, and then found out it had errors (which happens if you aren’t proof-reading), then people would say, ‘Oh, FreshStitches’s patterns aren’t that good’. And that’s not okay.

Steps for pattern-production

Every designer does things differently… but I think the one thing that most professional designers agree on is that ‘writing a pattern’ isn’t just as easy as writing down the steps you did!

Here are a few of the steps I do for each pattern I write:

I take progress photos.

In my patterns, I include progress photos of how the animal should be coming together. See… here’s a photo of my platypus head:

For my stuffed animals, I think that assembly (attaching the pieces) is the trickiest part, and is helped by a photo.

This is already one reason why William won’t become a pattern. I crocheted him one night, without taking pictures. In order to turn him into a pattern, I’d need to make another one, and take pictures along the way.

I write blog posts for supporting tips and techniques.

I don’t publish a pattern unless I have a video/blog post for all of the techniques involved in making the animal. I’ve built up quite a collection by now, so I have all of the basic stitches covered.


However, this means that I might make an animal for myself using the crazy-chicken-stitch (there isn’t really one of those, I just made that up!), but unless I want to make a video showing how to do the crazy-chicken-stitch, that animal isn’t going to make it to pattern-hood.

I type up and format the pattern.

Duh. I guess you figured that! As I showed you the other day, I take pattern notes in my own shorthand. To publish a pattern, I need to sit down at my computer, type up the pattern, calculate how much yarn I used, position the photos is the right places, etc.

Poor William. I didn’t even take any notes on what I did to make him! He’s got no hope of becoming a pattern, now…

I proof the pattern.

This means sending it to test-crocheters and going through multiple rounds of edits and proof-reading to make sure the pattern is as close to error-free as humanly possible.

See the difference between William and Platypus?

So that, ladies and gentleman, is why Platypus will be a pattern and my dear friend William will not! I planned for Platypus to be a pattern from the start: I selected the yarn to be ideal for substitutions, I wrote the pattern down and photographed as I went and I did some market research in advance to make sure that people would actually want a platypus pattern!

Even once I publish the pattern, that’s not the end of the road! I’m committed to providing help and support to my customers as they crochet the animal. So, if I don’t want to be answering questions about an animal later on down the road… it doesn’t become a pattern!

I published my Nelson the Owl pattern three years ago (this month!) And I still answer emails and questions about the pattern regularly! I direct customers to helpful blog posts, access what might be the problem if their color changes are crooked… it’s my job to help. But, it’s too big of a commitment to put out a pattern I’m not in love with- I’ll be seeing it for years!

Going forward…

I’m loving Design Week… so much so that I think we should have it again next year! What do you think?

Be sure to leave a comment below with a link to your post for the day- I want to hear about your design’s plans! Any of you thinking of publishing it? Or is the sample going to an exciting new home? Let us know!

Today is the last day of Design Week, but I’ll be posting a wrap-up tomorrow that organizes/consolidates all of the posts that have been shared. So, feel free to check in if you’ve missed any days and want an overview!

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