You may have already dabbled in the thought of creating and selling your products, maybe online or at craft fairs in your area. But few who are new to the craft know that you can sell not only products, but patterns. Patterns are the instructions to creating a specific project & are vital to any crocheters productivity. Heed my warning, it can be a time-consuming process, but the payout is definitely worth it. After all is said and done, you can feel accomplished in having designed, produced, and published your own pattern that other crocheters can use indefinitely.
Step 1: Plan
For simplicity’s sake, when you first start designing, try to work within the realm of your comfort zone. Don’t pressure yourself to create something so unique that it almost seems impossible. Conversely, over-simplification is bad. Items such a single crochet dishcloths, simple hats made in the round, the probably won’t sell. There are many free patterns online, so it’s unlikely that a customer would buy a pattern they could find elsewhere for a whopping zero dollars. Here’s a brief list of things to get comfortable with when starting your design.
Abbreviations. Study other crochet patterns to see how they are structured. Pay attention to the way stitches are abbreviated & look at the verbiage used. Crochet is a whole other language, & if you have ever read a pattern before, you will know what I’m talking about. Familiarize yourself with that language. It will be your best friend.
Gauge. If you plan on making clothing, gauge is one thing that cannot be stressed enough. It is essentially how many stitches are in X amount of rows or X amount of inches in your product. Since every crocheter uses different tension, finding the correct gauge is important in making sure that whenever someone uses your pattern, they can adjust their tension to match yours, and their finished product will be the same size & fit as it was intended. There are many online resources which describe gauge in further detail if you are unfamiliar with it.
Math. If you thought math was over after high-school, you were wrong. If you thought crochet didn’t involve math, you are double wrong. It is so incredibly important to be able to multiply and divide, understand multiples of numbers, be able to subtract the required amount of stitches for the project to equal a certain length. Ok, I’ll stop there. I don’t want to scare you away.
Yarn uses. Learn about the different types of yarn & what they are best used for. Acrylic, cotton, wool, even cashmere & silk! Each yarn has it’s pros and cons. Acrylic yarn is easy to work with, but it’s not very absorbent. Cotton is a great multipurpose pick, but it has a tendency to shrink if not cared for properly. Figure out which would be best for your project.
Step 2: Produce
This is the fun part. You already love to crochet, so getting started on your own custom design adds a new layer of awesomeness. From here on out though, there is one very very very important thing you must do: Write everything down!!! And I mean every little thing! This is your documentation of your work. Do not simply start creating willy-nilly and think you’ll write it down later, because 9 out of 10 times, you will forget.
This step of the process itself can take some time. There will be some redoing and undoing and redoing again and undoing again. There will be lots of scribbles & corrections through your notes but it will all be worth it. The point is to not merely write the pattern down, but be able to duplicate it easily. So no matter how insignificant you feel a step may be, make record of it.
Step 3: Polish
Polish up your written pattern to make it easy to read. This will also take some time. Use some editing techniques to make it simple to following along with & aesthetically pleasing. Here’s an small example from one of my patterns
R4: Ch3 (counts as 1DC, here & throughout), *ch2, sk2, 2DC in following stitch*. Repeat * – * for entire round. DC in last st, sl st to top of ch3.
R5-7: Repeat R4
Notice I how notate the rows (R4, R5) and each step for that row is broken down. I specify that the ch3 counts as a double crochet, I place asterisks around my repeats to avoid typing them out each time, & I separate each step by a comma. This divides up each step into succinct, easy to follow directions. If you write your patterns as one long paragraph, your reader will have hard time following along, & may chose to not purchase from you again.
Once you’ve typed it up, you may think you’re ready to jump right in and publish. STOP! Don’t do that yet! The last thing you want to do is publish a pattern with potential grammar/instructional errors. What you actually need to do is have someone test your pattern for you. Ask a friend who crochets if they would be willing to test it for you, and simply send them the pattern & they’ll try to create the product. There are also professional pattern testers out there who will go through it with a fine tooth comb & offer you feedback. Professional testers usually charge a flat rate depending on the size of the project. There is always to option to test it yourself (which is what I do) and I follow the pattern step by step. Be warned: When you use this method, you are prone to specific errors. The most prominent being a bias to your own work. YOU will understand the pattern already & may pass over mistakes easier than a pair of fresh eyes would. Do it 2 or 3 times until you feel you have this pattern mastered.
Step 4: Publish
Well you’ve toiled away over a hot hook & yarn for days, week, maybe even months! But you finally have a finished pattern that is absolutely unique & you’re ready to show it off to the world! Take some professional looking pictures to accompany the pattern, and find a good site to post it on. The most popular is Ravelry.com , your account is free & there is no listing fee, they just keep a small portion of any sale you make. Their website breaks down the pricing in a very easy to understand way. Another popular site is Craftsy.com. I have never personally sold on Craftsy but they do boast no listing or cut fees, so that’s pretty awesome! You could even create your own “buy now” site and include the PDF pattern in your online store. Be sure to cross-post on your social media sites. Pinterest is great way to gain exposure. The possibilities are endless! Just get to marketing yourself & driving traffic to your specific site & you’ll be making pattern sales in no time!
As always, Happy Hooking!