Tumblr Q&A: pattern making

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I’m just a beginner when it comes to pattern making myself, but I’ll certainly try my best to help you out! This was the process I went through. It is by no means the right and only way to do things, it’s just how I did it.

Step 1: Make notes

I’d suggest that as you’re creating your pattern, you keep a notebook by you to scribble down what you’ve done, how long it took, what materials you used, draw diagrams, do math, and to make adjustment notes. Basically, record as many details as you can.

This is a portion of my notes for the first set of dragon eggs I made. They’re probably a mess that no one else can read but me, but that’s okay. They were never meant for public instruction. As long as you can read your notes, that’s all that matters.

And as much as it hurts, don’t get squeamish about having to undo your work. I cannot tell you how many eggs I’ve torn apart because I wasn’t happy with the shape or the way the scales laid. This is the testing process so it’s bound to happen. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right right away! It took me several months to get my eggs to their final form.

Step 2: Refinement

This is the step where proper notation and terminology comes in. Now you have to clean up your notes and make a proper pattern out of it. If you can crochet, you’re probably already familiar with pattern terminology, but I always find it helpful to have a reference to double check. I used this one from The Craft Yarn Council.

Don’t be afraid to make up your own terminology as well. If you find you use a set of stitches repeatedly, give it a name. Just make sure to add a key in to explain what your terminology means.

My dragon egg pattern is a repetition of (2dc, ch2, 2sc, ch2) and (hdc, 6dc, ch1, sc into last st, 6dc) so I decided that instead of having to type those over and over and over again, I’d call them “foundation” and “scale” stitches, respectively.

It’s true I could have just typed them like *2dc, ch2, 2sc, ch2, repeat from * X amount of times, but I find that it’s easier to remember if it’s set it aside as its own entity, if that makes sense. I thought that teaching the foundation stitch before the pattern even started would mentally prepare the user. You see it and you kind of go, “Oh, I need to use this a lot. Gotta commit it to memory.” And I think that’s more user friendly than throwing in a line of pattern and halfway through you realize you’re using it a lot. It’s just a mentality thing, and a personal preference. You don’t need to listen to me. Whatever works for you!

Step 3: Test your pattern

It sounds like a massive pain in the behind to repeat the whole process, but it’s to ensure that your pattern is legible. So pretend you haven’t ever done this before and follow your pattern to a T. This way you can find errors, and make clarifications and adjustments as needed.

Or, if you’ve got a crocheter friend, give them the pattern and see if they can follow it! Less work for you, and it’s a real live person who really hasn’t had experience making your item yet. They might be able to give suggestions on how to improve what you’ve got.

Step 4: Expansion and clarification

If you and/or your friend were able to follow your pattern and were able to recreate your work, you’re ready for publication. However, if you’ve got time or are worried that your pattern isn’t clear, you could always do a blog write up or a video. Explain it to people, step by step. Pictures are super helpful, since most artistic types are visual learners. So if you can, include those. Get a tripod or a friend to help you out.

Another optional step which I haven’t actually done, but plan on doing in the future, is testing my products out on different types of yarn. Majority of the questions I’ve received have been, “Can I do this with X yarn?” Next time around, if my projects aren’t yarn dependent, I’d definitely make multiples so that I can answer the question with certainty and provide proper gauges.

This step is entirely optional, but I feel like it adds a bit of professionalism to patterns, and shows your users that you care and want to help them make the best product they can.

Anyway, that was a waaaaaaaay longer answer than I’m sure you expected, but I do hope it helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I very clearly am comfortable with babbling on. ^^;

And if anyone else has questions, be it about my patterns or just general artsy subjects, feel free to leave a comment here, on my contact page, or in my Tumblr ask box. I’m always happy to chat and I’ll do my very best to help you out how I can!

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