How I Became a Crochet Designer
I’ve had “write blog post – How to become a crochet designer” on my To-do list for months. I’d been procrastinating as I knew it would be a long one. Today is the day, I have put some time aside especially, because sometimes, you just have to do the thing you’ve been putting off. I’d like to share some of my thoughts and tell you a little bit about how I started my small creative business as a crochet designer.
EDIT:: I thought you might be interested in this YouTube video for my process on how to get crochet designs published. and Publish your Crochet Designs, part 2!
Laying the Yarny Foundations
Before I begin, here’s a little bit of background about me. There are three moments in my crafty past that have really stuck with me and led me to where I am now:
1 At eight years old, Nanna told me “you won’t learn to crochet if you hold the hook like that.” Hmm, nothing quite like turning you off a craft by setting unnecessary rules. Truly, I believe Nanna’s intentions were to create a solid foundation of learning but in reality, it had the opposite effect. I also think it had something to do with the way Queen Victoria and polite “ladies” held their hooks but my memory is foggy now. Anyway, I’m no “lady”. I’m a woman who eventually learned how to crochet. Via Youtube, on my own terms, twenty years later.
2 Just over half way through that twenty year break (sometime in my early twenties) I saw my artist friend crochet cups and saucers out of plastic tubing and I casually sighed “I wish I could crochet.” Her breezy reply was “It’s easy! Go for it”. I didn’t go for it. I really should have. Much like writing this blog post, I put it off.
3 The birth of my first baby. Nanna crocheted him a giant granny square blanket and I just knew I had to make him one too. So I did. Sort of. It was actually a ripple stitch blanket and it wasn’t the first thing I made, but you know, same difference. That was just over seven years ago and with the flick of a switch, I became obsessed with crochet.
Then I was a Craft Blogger
The first real step I took towards taking my crochet hobby more seriously was to set up this creative / lifestyle blog. Admittedly, it took me about five years of just thinking about it. I was daft to delay but it’s about confidence and I didn’t have any. I had very few crochet patterns at first and was constantly fretting that no other design ideas would come to me. So not true!
I have written many crochet blog posts now, but if you are a long time reader, you will know that I also blog about other things too. I have written about my garden numerous times, typed up records of when we’ve been on our summer hols and I have shared other creative ventures (some good, some bad!).
The point is, I just started. I wrote what was in my head that day, added a few photographs and hit publish. I didn’t wait for perfection because, if that were the case, this crafty blog wouldn’t exist at all.
The more you tinker and play, the more ideas you get, I promise. It will either lead to something, or it won’t but at least you will have tried. If you are curious about the ways you can create something new with just a yarn and hook, you have the right skills for the job to start blogging about your own crochet adventures.
How I Started My Creative Business
Several small, teeny tiny baby steps later I (nervously) decided the time was right. So, in October 2016 I sent out emails to three crochet magazines (you can find contact details at the front of your favourite magazines). I sent out pictures of a few different designs I’d created, asking if any publishers were interested.
The designs were all originals that I hadn’t shown to anyone else. Craft magazines prefer exclusive ideas, which is why I don’t say anything about a crochet commission until it’s about to go on sale. That, and I’m scared they’ll pull a design from the issue (it can happen, but not very often). I’m really good at keeping secrets these days. I never used to be!
One of the designs I sent was immediately accepted by Inside Crochet. Not only that but they also asked to feature my blog in their magazine! I properly freaked out, I was gobsmacked and completely delighted! Since then I’ve featured in all three magazines and had crochet designs in many issues [my work is on the front cover of each of those magazines in the above pic!!]. I’ve also designed for Hobbycraft. I am super proud of myself and if I can do it then so can you!
You don’t initially have to send in ideas like I did. You can just ask to be emailed the Calls. I was added to a Call for Submissions list by all three of the mags I contacted. Then you get to see mood board and future magazine themes, for which you then send in your ideas. Keep your eyes on social media too, you often see when a publisher is on the hunt for new designers.
You can skip the magazine bit if you prefer and just sell independently. However, you and your creative business do get positive exposure from being featured in crochet magazines.
Selling Online Patterns
Did you know that you can publish those magazine crochet patterns independently?!
In most cases (check the contract for this), after a period of time, the rights to your work are yours again and you can sell individual crochet designs to makers across the globe!
I like Ravelry as a platform for selling crochet designs. I’m still learning about it even though I’ve been on there for years. I’ve experienced some really good sales but it’s often seasonal and it’s better to have at least a handful of fabulous crochet designs available to bring in more income.
Once you’ve established how to add your design details and upload a pdf version of your crochet pattern (I need quiet for all of this as I’m well known for temper tantrums when it comes to filling stuff out online), you cross your fingers for the initial flurry of interest followed by delightful passive sales.
Etsy has been good for me too and I’ve just dipped my toe in LoveCrochet.com so I don’t have much experience of that yet. If you use these platforms, I’d love to hear what you make of them. There are other platforms too, or you can choose to open up your own online shop. I haven’t done that as the platforms I use sort out sales tax for me and I’m too lazy to do that myself at the moment.
Hints and Tips for Becoming a Crochet Designer
This is the list of info I think will be helpful for you if you need the extra push to start your own small creative business. I’ve had it scribbled down in my note book since the autumn…
- Always be crocheting. You get better everyday.
- Set up a blog to show case your work. After some research, I chose WordPress. If you haven’t got time for the world of blogging, then Instagram is an excellent choice. Show up though, you have to be consistent.
- Keep a sketch book nearby (or scrawl ideas on your phone/tablet). Write down/sketch out every crochet design idea. If it’s a wearable item, draw someone wearing it as well as providing a basic schematic. You’ll need simple sketches for submissions too.
- Swatch swatch swatch. Make good crochet swatches for all submissions. Swatches will help you work out little tweaks that need doing, help with shaping and help you work out if the maths is right etc. I dislike making swatches, but they are necessary and useful.
- Practice pattern writing with small design projects. Maybe they can become freebies on your blog. Free crochet patterns are a lovely thing to offer but I wouldn’t recommend busting a gut on big, time consuming designs unless you have a large audience. It can be a lot of hard work for very little in return. Make it work with what’s relative to your readership so that you don’t lose out. Essentially, when your blog is monetized, you can bring in an income from ad revenue. You need a lot of traffic to make this work.
- Don’t underestimate your worth. If a yarn company is offering you three balls of yarn in exchange for a review, ask yourself if the deal is worth it. Follow your gut on this as some collaborations are great, whereas others can exploit your good nature. Remember, exposure doesn’t pay the rent! Three balls of free yarn for an Instagram post and a Story is pretty alright. Three balls of free yarn in exhange for two IG posts, 3 Stories, a Reel and a Youtube review is not a good deal!
- Be the best you can be. Don’t release crochet patterns that you aren’t super proud of. I frog A LOT of crochet and 99% of the time it is the right decision.
- Keep abreast of what others are up to. What are the latest fashion trends? Popular yarns for crocheters and knitters? Popular colours? What season should be you working towards?
- Have a look at this post about choosing colour in your projects. It might help with the point above.
- Keep the pattern writing simple. I use Google Docs. If I’m creating a crochet pattern to sell independently, I add a small intro, a few good photographs of the design, “how-to” pics if I think it needs them, and a crochet chart (Stitchfiddle.com is what I often use).
- Just do it! Please start. Don’t put it off, find the time to do it now!
- And don’t forget to tell the tax man…
Like other creatives I just wanna make stuff. I’ve learned a ridiculous amount by playing around (making lots of mistakes) and I’ve probably not even covered the half of it here. Crikey, I still have a ridiculous amount to learn. I’m coming up to my third year of craft blogging but have only considered myself to be a crochet designer for about a year. That’s not a long time so I reckon I should come back and look at this next year to see what’s changed!
Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like to know or if you think I’ve missed out a vital piece of information. If you are a crochet designer too, I’d love to know what your experience has been. Tell me! Thanks ever so much! X