It's been over 10 years since I had my first crochet pattern published. How I got into crochet design is a question I get asked a fair amount so I thought it would be good to write up a blog post explaining how I did!
I will be completely honest with you, I have zero training or education in this field, I am just an avid crocheter.
I did do a theatre design A-Level that involved an element of costume design (though this was back in 2000!). I considered various degrees that included fashion and set design, but in the end did English and Creative writing.
After that I worked in retail until my son was born in 2009, when I devoted a lot of time to my etsy shop, I made enough money selling my handmade items that I didn't go back to a 'regular' job.
Then in 2011, entirely on a whim (this is how most of my ideas begin) I decided I wanted to be a crochet designer, I had made up patterns for myself in a very basic way before then and I had put a couple of free patterns up on ravelry and my blog, but that was it.
Inspired by ravelry forums, I decided to submit some ideas to magazines. I was able to gather a little information about what I needed to do from said forums and I just got stuck in.
I emailed a few crochet magazines asking for their submission guidlines and editorial calendars and then submitted using the guidlines they sent back to me.
I've just trawled back through my emails to find the original conversation I had with Claire Montgomerie at Inside Crochet, who comissioned my first designs back in 2011. I must admit I'm a little embarrased by my first submission! This is not how I would submit now, but back then, I sent over and email with a paragraph outlining my design and a little sketch and a swatch attached as photos.
This was the paragraph :
Long Sleeve Lacy Sweater
Loose fitting, long, lacy sweater, worked in the round. A comfortable, smart/casual sweater made in cotton for a light yet cosy springtime garment. Crocheted in the round this is a seamless sweater with thick ribbed cuffs, waist and neck. I imagine this for a young woman/teenager, this is such a versatile item, easy to dress up or down.
For the swatches attached, I used Twillys Freedom Sincere double knit organic cotton yarn.
and my photos
Anyway - by some miracle Claire commissioned this sweater and I had to teach myself how to write a crochet pattern following a style sheet and how to grade for multiple sizes. It was a steep learning curve, but with a lot of googling and book reading I got there.
The next year I invested in Shannon Okey’s Tech Editing course - which was wonderful and improved my grading skills no end, but unfortunately I don’t think she does it anymore.
As I got more experience, my pattern writing and designing skills improved and so did my submission pages! These are from a fair few years ago now but this is how I would probably do a magazine submission today - one sheet with all the information on it, sent as a PDF attachment via email (unless the magazine has specified a particular way of submitting).
As a side note - neither of these particular designs were ever commissioned, so if you're interested in getting into desgining - know that sometimes your designs just won't fit with the themes or style of the magazine and try not to get too disheartened (I'm particuarly proud of that tunisian swatch - it would have made an excellent sweater in my opinion!).
If you want to get into crochet design then I think magazines are the perfect place to start - I won't lie, generally the pay is not great verus time put in, but the benefit of working with magazines are pretty good especially for a newbie. They will generally arrange yarn support for you and though you are expected to produce a well written pattern, they will have it tech edited for you, plus you know from the outset how much money you will earn from your work as this will be agreed before you begin. If you're self publishing this is much more of a gamble and you'll need to front all the costs of publishing yourself (tech editor, yarn, photography etc). There are definely benefits to self publishing too - but personally I think magazines are great for getting started.
Another side note - if you are an indie designer in need of yarn support - please feel free to shoot me a message - I know I used to find asking for yarn support terrifying - as someone who has been there I'm always open to enquiries as a dyer now - contact me
If you've got this far then you're probably pretty keen on the idea of getting into crochet design yourself and if so then I can highly recommend The Crochet Project's new course.
Joanne got into designing the same time as me and has been an incredible inspiration in this industry, carving out her own place and changing the face of crochet design. I'm very proud to call her a friend and collegue (of sorts) and know how passionate and particular she is about crochet and therefore know this course will be incredibly useful for anyone who wants to up their crochet game.