Okay, now for the fun part! The first things I designed were baby blankets and afghans. I never had any of these designs published, and I never bothered to write patterns for them, but I loved making them, and everyone I gave them to appreciated the fact that they were original, one of a kind designs, made especially for them. I believe that anyone who has a good working knowledge of crochet can create their own designs, too.
The easiest items to design are either square or rectangular in shape. This does not have to be limiting; just think of the possibilities of these two simple shapes! In addition to afghans and baby blankets, you can make table runners, placemats, dishcloths, hot pads, pot holders, coasters. rugs, shawls, scarves, lapghans, curtains, even full size bedspreads or tableclothes if you want. Some designers make clothing by joining rectangles together to form the sleeves, back and fronts of a garment. By folding squares or sewing two or more together you can form purses, bags, slippers and hats. I know of at least two designers who had fairly successful careers back in the early 90's by simply making afghans from stitch patterns found in the Harmony stitch guides. Sometimes they added a simple border, most times they did not.
Today, we are going to make a washcloth. Maybe two or three. They are quick and easy to make, pretty, and they make great gifts. You will need a ball of worsted weight cotton yarn in a color you love, and a crochet hook in the appropriate size (I am going to use a H hook.) You will also need to know how to make a favorite stitch pattern, or a book of crochet stitches, such as one of the Harmony guides. For this project, we want a pattern that repeats in as few rows as possible; look for one that says "repeat row 2 for desired length" or something like that. The more rows you have to repeat for the pattern, the more complicated it will be, and that is not what we want today. I am going to use a slanted shell stitch for my washcloth. It has a pretty texture, cool scalloped edges (especially if you use an eyelet chain-free foundation, but we will save that for another day) and is super easy to memorize. A pattern for this stitch would read:
Row 1: Ch a multiple of 3 plus 4, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in fourth ch from hook, *skip next 2 chs, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next ch; repeat from * across, turn.
Row 2: Ch 3, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in each ch-2 sp across, turn.
Repeat Row 2 for desired length.
Now, decide how wide you want your washcloth to be. I think 8" square is a good size. So I make a chain about 12" long, because I know when I work the stitches it will draw up some. I am not going to worry if I have any chains left over. If I do, I will just cut them off.
If you want to write a pattern for your design (so you can make multiple identical items, or so you can share your design with friends), you can either figure out how many chains you will need based on the number of chains needed for each repeat of the pattern times how many repeats you use. Or, you can just count the number of chains you use to make your starting chain, then subtract the number you have left over after working the first row. Say you chain 100 to make a chain 10" long, and after you finish the first row you have 18 chains left over. That means you needed 82 chains to start your washcloth.
To cut away the excess chain, leave the 4 chains closest to the washcloth, and cut away the rest. Now carefully unravel the remaining 4 chains, and hide the end as you normally do.
It took me a little over an hour to make this washcloth. Small items like this are perfect for learning new stitches, and deciding if you like working with them before committing to a larger item.
There you have it; the basic idea is the same no matter what you are making. Experiment with your favorite stitches; you will find that some work better for certain items than others.
If you have finished your washcloth, congratulations, you are a designer! Happy crocheting!