Yesterday, crochet designer and photographer, Mandy of RedAgape wrote a frankly marvellous piece about what it really means to become a professional in the crochet world. Every single word had me nodding in agreement and I can honestly say that if you think crochet design is something you’d like to do then Mandy’s words are a pretty accurate description of what to expect.
For three or four months I’ve had “write blog post – how to become a crochet designer” on my To-do list. I’d been putting it off as I knew it would be a long one. Inspired by Mandy’s post (and without treading on her toes) I’d like to share some of my thoughts and tell you a little bit about how I started.
How I started
There are three moments in my crafty past that have really stuck with me. 1 At eight years old, Nanna telling me “you won’t learn to crochet if you hold the hook like that.” I did eventually. 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 said “I wish I could crochet” and she told me “it’s easy! Go for it”. I didn’t go for it. I really should have. 3 The birth of my first baby. Nanna made him a giant granny square blanket and I knew I had to make him one too. So I did. Sort of. It was actually a ripple and it wasn’t the first thing I made, but you know, same difference. That was just over seven years ago.
The first real step I took towards taking my hobby more seriously was to set up this 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 designs at first and was constantly fretting that another would never come to me. So not true! The more you tinker and play, the more ideas you get, I promise.
Several small baby steps later I (nervously) decided the time was right and in October 2016 I sent out emails to three magazines (you can find contact details at the front of your favourite magazines). I sent out pictures of a few different things I’d made, asking if they were interested. The designs were all originals that I hadn’t shown to anyone else (magazines prefer exclusive ideas, which is why I don’t say anything about a commission until it’s about to go on sale. That, and I’m scared they’ll pull my design from the issue – it happens. I’m really good at keeping secrets these days. I never used to be!). I was added to a Call for Submissions list by all three of the mags and one of the designs I’d 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 designs featured 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! Anyway, enough of tooting my own trumpet.
Selling Online Patterns
I like Ravelry. I’m still learning about it even though I’ve been on there for years. I’ve experienced some really good sales and some disappointing sales. Once you’ve established how to add your pattern details and upload a pdf (I need quiet for all of this as I’m well known for temper tantrums when it comes to filling stuff out online) then you cross your fingers for the initial flurry of interest followed by passive sales. Etsy hasn’t worked for me in the past and I’ve only 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. Maybe I should give them a proper chance.
Hints and Tips
This is the list of info I think will be helpful. 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. If you haven’t got time, then Instagram is your best friend.
- Keep a sketch book nearby (or scrawl things on your phone/tablet). Write down/sketch out every idea. If it’s a wearable item, draw someone wearing it. You’ll need simple sketches for submissions too.
- Swatch swatch swatch. Make good 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 hate making swatches, I force myself to do it.
- Practice pattern writing with small design projects. Maybe they can become freebies on your blog. Freebies are a lovely thing to offer but I wouldn’t recommend doling out big designs. That’s a lot of hard work for very little in return and it doesn’t do the rest of the community any favours. Don’t underestimate your worth.
- Be the best you can be. Don’t release 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 trends? Popular yarns, popular colours?
- 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 it’s to sell independently I add a small intro, a few good photographs, “how-to” pics if I think it needs them and a chart (Stitchfiddle.com is what I use).
- Just do it! Start. Now!
- And 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 blogging but have only considered myself to be a designer for one 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