Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Writing a Workable Crochet Pattern: Part Two

Have you ever tried to follow a pattern and thought: "I wonder if the person that wrote this has ever even held a crochet hook?" I have seen patterns that were obviously written by someone who was more familiar with knitting ("work even"), and other patterns that expected you to be a mind reader. I remember one pattern  that a designer  submitted for a baby dress that started out with:
"For first row make a chain as long as you want it and work back across."
Not real specific, and a good reason many publishing companies use professional technical editors. If you want folks to be able to actually recreate your designs, you must put some thought and effort into your patterns.
What makes a pattern easy to follow? Clearly giving all the information  needed to create the item you have designed. Even experienced crocheters do not like to guess at what a designer wants them to do, and a beginner can easily become so frustrated that they just give up.
Basically, you must give exact instructions for what to do where, and how many times to do it.
I think the best way to give examples of this is to go step by step through an actual pattern, so I will use my Sunflower Dish or Wash Cloth as an example. My comments on the pattern are in red.

Sunflower Dish or Wash Cloth
by Elizabeth Ann White
for BellaCrochet

Skill Level: Easy (Be sure that you list an accurate skill level for your pattern. You can refer to this chart on the Craft Yarn Council site to help you determine what your pattern should be rated:

Size: About 7” across (measure the finished item and list a gauge if needed. I don't give a gauge for anything except clothing.)
Worsted Weight Cotton Yarn:
  1 oz. Each Brown and Yellow
  Small amount Dark Green
Size I (5.50mm) Crochet Hook
Be sure to list everything needed to complete the item. I always list a little more yarn than I actually used. I also list the mm size of the hook.

Special Stitches:
For 2 dc cluster: Yo, insert hook in st or ch sp indicated, yo, pull lp through, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook, yo, insert hook in same st or ch sp, yo, pull lp through, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook, yo, pull through all 3 lps on hook (use standard abbreviations, or tell them what each abbreviation you are using stands for)
For 3 dc cluster: Yo, insert hook in st or ch sp indicated, yo, pull lp through, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook, (yo, insert hook in same st or ch sp, yo, pull through, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook) 2 times, yo, pull through all 4 lps on hook
If you are going to be using a stitch several times in a design, it is a good idea to list it as a Special Stitch at the beginning of the pattern. It makes it easy for the crocheter to refer back to. I always write the name of the stitch in bold print the first time it is used in a pattern and then refer them to the Special Stitches. And be sure to double check your instructions for each Special Stitch; this is the worst possible place to have an error!

Okay, in Part Three we will get into the actual pattern. Please let me know if you have any questions!


Sheltie Times said...

I know someone who feels it "dumbs down" crocheters when she is too specific. I find establishing common language between writer and crocheter makes communication stronger. Like many languages people speak "crochet" differently and knowing the "dialect" is helpful.

paula said...

Thank you SO MUCH for the the Skill Level chart. I have always wondered where I could find it and you answered my question.

This tutorial you are writing is so much help.

CrochetBlogger said...

Really, really great explanations here. Right on point. (I actually always wondered where "work even" came from even though I'd figured out what it meant to do.)

Natalia Kononova said...

Very helpful.

Anonymous said...

More super information...thank you. ~Kelly

unDeniably Domestic