Design Primer

         Have you ever thought about becoming a professional crochet designer?

Well, one of the first things you need to do is assess your skills and spend some quiet time thinking about and deciding what your real passions are.  If you ask yourself the following questions, your answers can help you determine if crochet design is really for you.  

   1. Do you think about crochet 24 hours a day?
 
   2. Do you like to crochet a variety of projects? (Including home accessories, fashion accessories,  and /or garments?)

   3. When you sit down to crochet something, do you insist on creating your own designs or altering the patterns that someone else has written?

   4. Do you find yourself browsing through home décor and fashion magazines imagining the latest styles in clothing or home accessories done up in all your favorite fibers and crochet stitches?

   5. Have you joined TNNA and CHA (trade organizations) in order to attend annual tradeshows just to see the latest yarns and fibers; or to get the latest scuttle-but on the crochet industry?

   6. Do you understand how to read a crochet pattern?

   7. Do you understand how to write a crochet pattern?

   8. Do you have a computer? And, do you know how to create a word document on a computer?


 If you don’t know how to write a crochet pattern, don’t worry; that’s a skill that can be learned.  If you don’t know how to create a word document, don’t worry; that’s also a skill that can be learned.  If you don’t know how to read a crochet pattern, you’ve got some work to do.  You absolutely, positively must learn all three of these skills ASAP. You absolutely, positively need these skills in order to function AT ALL in the crochet pattern publishing business!

 However, if you absolutely, positively DISLIKE the thought of writing a pattern or using a computer to create word documents, you might need to re-think your career path.  Or....you need to exercise a great deal of mental discipline to get yourself past the DISLIKE part, so that you can learn the skills well enough to move forward.  For every design you create in your mind or with your hooks and fiber, you will need to write the patterns out line by line, and then transfer them to your computer in word document form.  And believe me, you won’t be able to create a word document or an acceptable user-friendly crochet pattern if you dislike this process in any way, shape, or form.

   If you agree with everything stated so far, and you answered "yes" to all eight questions above, then you're ready to look at becoming a crochet designer.

                               As far as your creative spirit goes. . . .

   Check out a few of the following websites to see some crochet designers who have made it in today's marketplace:  

 These websites will most definitely provide inspiration and thought provoking exercise for your own creative spirit.

      At this point also, you need to take a look at your credentials.

       

If you’re not sure about your credentials, you can pursue excellence in the craft of crochet by enrolling in some of the professional classes offered by the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA).  If you're not already a member, go to www.crochet.org and look into joining.  You can also go to www.crochet.co.uk and look into the professional crochet courses offered there.

Once you become comfortable with your credentials, you need to spend some time creating and writing a few patterns that are on the simple or basic side of design.  Try these patterns out on a few of your friends who crochet. See if anyone has any trouble following your instructions.  If not, HOORAY! You’re ready to try something a little more complicated.  Use this trial and error method until you’re sure that your patterns are user-friendly. Then try getting on a few mailing lists of your favorite yarn companies.  Click on any of the yarn company websites below to become familiar with their pattern line-up:

Sometimes the submission guidelines for designers are rather hidden on the yarn company websites.  Or, in some cases, they are not available on the website at all.  In that event, you must write a letter to ask for submission guidelines.  You can usually find a corporate address on the Contact Us page.

Once you receive the submission guidelines for crochet designers, send in a design or two just to get your feet wet.  Meanwhile, continue adding to your expertise and honing your skills as a crocheter and as a crochet designer.  Once you’ve proven yourself and your skills to one or two yarn companies, the yarn companies will continue to get in touch with you, asking for specific fashion and home accessory designs.  You will absolutely love it! 

                           If you want to design crochet garments. . . .

Blackout Coat by Mary E. Nolfi Circle Jacket by Doris Chan Napa Jacket by S. Shildmyer Tunic by Vashti Braha

You will need to learn how to create patterns for multiple sizes.  Your math skills should be at a level where you're comfortable with adding and subtracting.  You'll be adding stitches or subtracting them when increasing or decreasing for any shaping techniques.  AND you'll be adding or subtracting stitch count changes from small sizes to larger sizes, or vice versa.  Be aware that when designing patterns for publication in periodicals or books that are read by the general public, the guidelines for size changes will be of a more standard nature than when designing a garment in a one on one "custom" situation.

There are software applications that contain measurements and line drawings that can help when conceiving the initial drawings and measurements for a garment pattern.   The software that I am familiar with is Garment Designer or Garment Styler.  Both are available on the website www.cochenille.com.  However, my personal preference for creating the model that will be used to establish all size changes in a pattern for publication, is by using a "live" model (a family member or friend who is a size small female or a size large male, etc.).   An adjustible dress form is also a very good model for creating the initial garment size for any particular pattern.   Also, it is my opinion that garment size changes be made for no more than three or four sizes per written pattern.  Small to XL and Plus size (1X to 5X) are in two separate size categories.  Therefore, separate sample models are necessary for each of these two separate size categories.  Adjustments to the size changes are then made by adding or subtracting from the stitch counts in each of the model garments.  (Remember:  The separation of these two size categories for ladies is my personal opinion.  That also means that I would make a separation in patterns for Men's Small to XL and Men's Big and Tall Sizes.)

You might also consider visiting the CYCA (Craft Yarn Council of America) website www.yarnstandards.com to download their references for pattern sizing.  Spend some time studying all of the information in these references until you are very comfortable with a good understanding of the design statistics that are relevant to the pattern categories you'll be using for your designs.   Above all, the more experience you add to your credentials by making garments for yourself, your family members, and friends, the more familiar and confident you will become with your ability to make and size garments for publication or for custom designs.

The main website of CYCA www.craftyarncouncil.com is also a wonderful place to keep in touch with a well rounded collection of information about the yarn industry in general.
 

                                             Submission Guidelines

Once you’ve become very confident in your design abilities after multiple design submissions to yarn companies, the next step will be to make submissions to your favorite crochet magazines.  You need to check the design submission guidelines for each magazine you choose.  Submission guidelines are always just a little different no matter who you deal with.  You can check for submission guidelines online.  Each magazine has their own website presence.  Click on any of the URL addresses below to start your own magazine submission research right now!

I have included three of my favorite "knitting" magazines because occasionally they publish crochet patterns. . . IF the crochet pattern is well done and has the fashion flair that each of these magazines is noted for.  (There is something absolutely wonderful about having a crochet pattern published in a well known knitting magazine.) 

After you have a few accepted or published designs in the crochet (or knitting) magazines, you are ready to spend some time researching how to submit a query letter or proposal for an entire collection of your designs.  Now. . . things should really begin to get VERY exciting!   (I personally found the research process very fascinating.  Learning "how to" get published is an extremely interesting subject to pursue on it's own merit.)

 
                                                          Publishers

One particular publisher that likes to publish multiple designs by a single designer all in one booklet, is Leisure Arts.  One of the great things about Leisure Arts is that their design/editorial staff designs the format of the book that features your designs.  All you have to do is submit the designs and the (well-written) patterns.  You can look up their submission guidelines and who to contact, by visiting their website www.leisurearts.com.  Then click on "about us" and look for the phrase "how we select our designs".  (Please- make sure to follow all the correct protocol.  Never send a proposal without confirming the proper procedures for doing so.) 

   Of course, you also need to do some research into ALL of the publishers out there. Not all publishers accept "how-to"  book proposals.  Go to the library and look for a book titled . . . .

   Come back soon to learn the rest.  For now, review the previous steps and get started on the road to becoming the next published crochet designer.

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   Also, click on any of the trade organization logos below to find more about CGOA (Crochet Guild of America), CHA (Craft and Hobby Association), and TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association).