Crocheting is a big world. I want to give you a look into why I produce free crochet patterns for all to enjoy, and what goes into making these patterns.
I first started crocheting a few years ago at the age of 16. At the time I had no income or way to purchase all of the adorable crochet patterns I was seeing. Needless to say, I was so bummed! But there are plenty of free patterns out there, so though I may not have been able to create some projects, I definitely was able to create a lot of cute amigurumis through free patterns. This gave me great insight to those who may not be able to purchase patterns. To this day I have to admit, I love free! Who doesn’t?
Don’t let that distract you from all the hard work crochet designers put into their work. Paid patterns are 100% justified. The amount of hard work and time that goes into designing only one pattern more than makes up for a regular day’s work. Maybe even week’s work at that! Whether a crochet pattern is paid or free doesn’t change the fact that there is hard dedication put into the pattern. It also doesn’t make the pattern better or worse because of it’s monetary value. Because of this, I would love for some of the crocheters out there to get a good idea of how exactly a pattern comes to life.
As a note, I sometimes get complaints that my PDFs aren’t free. As much as I would love to give away everything for free, it’s the only way I can make crochet my career. It’s my only way I can keep bringing you the free patterns you see on this site. If you’re someone who doesn’t understand why I charge for the PDF version of my free patterns, I would greatly appreciate if you read the process it takes to make these patterns.
To begin from the very start, I need yarn. I admit I’m actually not a yarn addict! Crazy, right? I usually buy basic yarn colors that I need to make my amigurumis, but regardless, every project starts with a hook and yarn.
Then comes the inspiration. I started “accidentally” creating crochet patterns because I couldn’t find a pattern for something I wanted to create. As I say, my mind runs wild with creative ideas. Getting those ideas can sometimes be very easy, or sometimes extremely difficult. I have to be in a creative and positive mindset in order to successfully make realistic crochet ideas.
However, these ideas typically aren’t just “I should make a cat crochet pattern”. That is too general of an idea, I have to envision how the end result will look, which way I will start the project, how will the other pieces look, etc. Then depending on what I want to create, I will pull up some reference images. For example, if I wanted to crochet peas I would look at both real life examples as well as cute cartoon-y examples and combine both together.
Let’s start creating
Once I have a general idea, it’s time to make it a reality. Figuring out which yarn colors will best suit the amigurumi is crucial. A wrong color can make all of the difference with the outcome.
I love to make my patterns fairly easy in technique, but depending on the type of amigurumi I want to create, the method of creating it can be very stressful or surprisingly easy. For example, the pug pattern I did was surprisingly easy. But the little rabbits were fairly difficult in getting the shape just right while keeping in mind that I wanted it to be an easy pattern designed for using scrap yarns.
With a pattern that’s a bit more difficult to create, there is a lot of re-doing that happens. I may be half way through making the pattern and realizing that it just isn’t going to work. The pattern looks weird, or could be done better. This is usually where trail and error comes into play and it can be VERY time consuming.
Testing and editing
Now I have the first version of the pattern written and the first amigurumi toy of this pattern done. That’s not where it ends though! There can be errors in the pattern, typos, stitch count mishaps, etc. That’s why it’s crucial that I create a second amigurumi using my written pattern.
This is called “testing” the pattern, and you can sometimes even get pattern testers who will help you test your pattern to make sure it’s correct and clear. I usually test myself for the sake of getting the pattern out quicker, but I will get pattern testers if the pattern has a few versions. For example the teletubbies or happy bears. Any errors I find during this process I will correct and rewrite certain portions of the pattern. So, I would have just tested and edited the pattern for correctness and clarity.
Photographing the Second Amigurumi
During this testing process, I also have to photograph the project as I make the second amigurumi. This involves setting up my lights, white backdrop, and getting out my DSLR. All of which are not so awesome to set up! Aaah but so worth it! When I’m photographing the project, I am usually sitting close to the temporary photo set-up and back and forth between my computer and the photographing. Sometimes even taking down my lighting set up so I can leave my room, then resetting it up! It’s not your typical relaxed crocheting experience, as I need to make sure these photos are clear to the viewer what is happening.
Below is my lighting set up
Since implementing progress photos to my patterns, it seems as the pattern is easier to understand because you do have a visual to reference as you’re making the pattern. After taking progress photos, I take the final photos of the amigurumis. These are the photos you’re seeing at the top of the patterns.
Good enough for the cut?
Now I have the written pattern done, tested, edited. I also have taken the progress photos during the testing process. We’re only half way done! Now I need to import my photos to my computer and pick out the best photos. I add these pictures to a folder I smartly name “good”. This process isn’t too difficult, but depending on how many photos there are, it’s no breeze.
Designing the PDF
At this time I create the PDF. This is sometimes the funnest part of the process because I can truly see the pattern come to life. I transfer all of my “good” photos to the program I use to make my PDFs. Now I must add each little section of the pattern to the PDF. It isn’t just a big copy and paste to the program. It’s basically a small text box for each section, then I have to go in and edit the font, size, spacing, color, and most importantly the placement of just one text box.
As I create the text boxes for each section, I am also adding in the progress photos and figuring out where to place these photos in relation to the text. This sometimes means I have to reformat or cut out certain pieces of the text and replace them elsewhere.
After getting the basic structure, pattern, and images inserted into the PDF, I go in and add little details to make the PDF look more presentable. My goal is to have the PDF look like a book rather than a basic slab of text. This means I add in little dividers, and even a “preface” page of useful information about the pattern such as a table of contents, stitch abbreviations, etc.
Below are two examples of each section I manually add.
Below is the final outcome
After all of the designing is said and done, I export the work to a PDF and double check that everything is correct. Most times something needs to be fixed, so I will fix the little things and export it again! Then I need to compress the PDF. This basically means I need to make the file size smaller so it will take up less space on your computer.
Posting the pattern to my website
Now that the PDF is done, I can create the website page for the pattern. This is a similar process to the PDF but with less designing. I have to import the images again, and post the pattern section by section. This means adjusting text, adding progress photos, etc. After the pattern is made into the website post, I have to add additional outside links such as where you can “pin” the post on Pinterest, or where you can buy the PDF!
This is where I create the PDF shop page for a specific pattern, and create the PDF preview. I insert 3 photos of the PDF into my program and export it to an image and upload it to my website, and then finally add it to my post. For my shop page, I write up a little description about the PDF pattern, add my images and PDF preview to the shop page, add the downloadable PDF file to the download page, and link it back to my original pattern page. I also insert the PDF preview to my pattern page. Woo! Still with me?
Social Media Graphics
Back to designing. I go back to my program and design the social media graphic to post on Pinterest and Instagram. Sometimes such a basic image can be a little hard to get an eye for, but eventually I make it work! I save this image and add it to Pinterest and Instagram.
Now I have to link the Pinterest post in my pattern post, this is what you see where it says “Pin this now!” Now for the final part. I add my pattern to Ravelry. Again, I upload all my finished photos to the Ravelry pattern page, add my pattern description, and link it to my website. Now on my website, I link out to my Ravlery project page to encourage the wonderful crocheters out there to post their finished project on that page!
Hopefully this detailed process gave you some insight on what goes into making a crochet pattern. I also hope this makes some realize why I charge less than a cup of Starbucks Coffee ($1.99) for a detailed PDF version of my free crochet patterns. Plenty of hard work and love goes into each pattern, and I really want to share my creations with as many people as I can. Sometimes I think it’s good to get to know how these things happen! I know when I first started making crochet patterns, it was way different and less involved than how my process is today. My goal is to have my patterns free, easy, and understandable.
Let me know your thoughts! Does any crochet designer out there have a similar process? Or have you learned something new? Do you want to make your own crochet patterns some day? If so, I would love to write up a guide on how you can start crocheting your own amigurumis, and hopefully a view of my process can help you lay out how you can make your own!