Have you ever thought it’d be super cool if you could make a sweater, hat, or blanket all on your own? Not following a pattern or anything, just letting your mind work it’s magic and create something unique and all your own? Or maybe you’ve seen other designers come up with such cool pieces that you admire and think to yourself man, I wish I had that kind of talent! Then you start to think about it, and wonder where in the heck do you even begin? I get it. Jumping into a whole new project can be incredibly overwhelming. I’m sharing about how I got started, and how you, too, can take the first steps towards designing something all your own.
When I first entertained the idea of seriously becoming a crochet designer, I actually had a bit of history with design already. I had started a blog a couple years back, mostly me just dabbling with crochet patterns and sewing projects. While that first venture wasn’t serious, I did learn I had a knack for turning yarn into something my mind dreamt up. So when it came time to get serious with it and start up Megmade with Love, I had at least a tad bit of experience designing.
Something you should know, though, is that when I did start back up again— I didn’t know everything. My stitch knowledge was minimal, and if I’m bein’ real… I can recall not even knowing what a decrease was (gasp!). I just made projects work by simply experimenting. I studied lots of other patterns already published, got a gist of certain techniques, then went to the races with my new ideas. I’d take note of how someone else did it, then think now how can I do this my way? Or how can I make this better? Is there a different variation of stitches that I could put together to create a unique piece all my own?
I’d learn the stitch patterns for creating different sized hats, then try to throw in my own variation of stitches to create a hat all my own. Or I’d play around with different stitch combinations and textures, and that’s actually how the Textured Boho Cowl was created. And when I designed my first sweater, The Homebody Sweater, I experimented for hours with yarn, hook sizes and stitches to create the perfect simple and stylish sweater.
I’ve learned so much since first taking the plunge to designing, and I’d like to share what info I’ve gathered while on this journey. Below are some ideas I’ve brainstormed to help you get the ball rollin’ on your own design dreams…
Start with what’s familiar
it may be easiest when first trying to scheme up your own design when it’s something you have confidence and experience with. So if you’re the queen of crocheting beanies then designing a new hat would be a great place to start. Same goes if you’re into making amigurumi, clothes, blankets, etc. Because if you’ve been making these things, chances are you know the basics of how they are made— if there are stitches that are common for the types of thing you make or how the different shapes are formed. Plus it won’t seem as daunting when you won’t have to learn a complete new type of project along with designing it. And once you’ve conquered that first design that came to you like second nature, you’ll have confidence in the future to tackle more complex designs. While it’s easier to start with something you know, it’s certainly not bad to venture out into new ground though! Great things can happen by experimenting with new areas of the crochet realm. Plus you’ll learn what you like/are good at.
Make a sketch/plan
This isn’t always necessary, but it’s nice to give yourself a visual on paper of what you’re about to bring to life. Start by what it would look like completed (and I wouldn’t worry about it looking super pretty— my sketches are usually wack, definitely not blessed in the 2D area), then sketch out each of the different pieces would look like (if applicable). Mapping out the stitch sequence would also greatly aid you when planning out the design. You can also plan out color schemes, what stitch(es?) you’d like to include, what sort of yarn you want to use and any other materials you’d need.
This is maybe my favorite part of the prep before jumping into your design. Experimenting with your yarn and different hooks is where the magic will happen. Decide what sort of drape you want your project to have— loose and flowy or sturdy and structured. Changing out the hook size will give you different amounts of drape. Play around with different stitch combinations—grab a stitch book or browse online for interesting stitches and swatch different ones up. You can play with texture and figure out what looks good with the type of yarn you’re using, plus the result you’re going for. And in this phase, you may find your plan for your design goes a completely different way! That happens to me all the time. That’s why this part is so fun to me!
If you’re planning on designing something you’re familiar with making, you may have all the knowledge and “studying” done for your piece, but if not, you may need to take note of how certain things are created. To do so, you can look to other designers who have made similar items. For example, if you’re making a beanie, you’ll have to do a certain sequence of stitches to make a hat. So it’d be wise to study how others before you have done it and apply it to your experimentation. I’d look for multiple inspiration sources, and find the commonalities then play around with your own unique idea applying what you learned. I will say there is a big difference between looking for inspiration and copying, I would never condone copying another’s tactics— it’s just a groundwork for your own designs!
I think these couple of tactics will be a great start for your first design venture! Really, the thing is to just go for it. Creating stuff from absolute scratch is so rewarding… it fulfills such a creative desire for me personally and kinda sorta brings me life. I want you to feel that too!! If you’ve got some ideas swirling in your head, and you haven’t been sure where to start, pleeaaasse consider trying some of the tips above. The world needs your unique creations :)
Happy hooking (and maybe designing?)