Episode 36: Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series 1: Planning Your Pattern

Crochet and Knitting Design and Self-Publishing Mini Series on the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show: Part 1: Planning Your Pattern

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This Week’s Episode

I launch the Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series with a focus on Planning Your Pattern. In today’s episode, I talk about style sheets and yarn support, as well as aligning your style sheet with your ideal customer’s preferences and needs.

But first…

Thanks to Angela Doherty from Hooked By Angel (on Etsy and Facebook) for sharing the first bit of audio feedback on the show! Angel had some wonderful things to say about the show (thank you!) and she also reminded me that I like to say, “That makes sense” a lot during interviews. (I also seem to like to say “So” but that’s an aside.)

Angela was one of the people who inspired me to take the leap into starting a Facebook group for friends and fans of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show. You can join the group, Creative Yarn Entrepreneurs, here.

Let’s talk style sheets

What in the world is a style sheet? Think of it as a template for formatting your crochet and knitting patterns.A style sheet can benefit you by making the process of writing up your patterns faster as well as by setting a consistent tone for your customers. As you create your own style sheet, think about…

  • Your ideal customer. Does this person need more or less detail? Does this person prefer pattern abbreviations or stitch symbols? Do they want or need lots of photos and tutorials, or do they prefer very condensed, print-friendly designs.
  • Abbreviations. Will you use the Craft Yarn Council standard abbreviations for crochet or knitting, or will you develop your own variations on these abbreviations? Will you use US or UK abbreviations, or both?
  • Stitch symbols. If you plan to include international stitch symbols in your patterns, will you design your own charts or pay a tech editor to do this for you? If you’d like to create your own, you may want to check out this tutorial by Pia Thadani from StitchesNScraps about how to use Inkscape to make crochet charts. You may also want to listen to this episode where I interview Adriana Hernandez from AdriPrints about her affordable crochet and knitting fonts.
  • Writing style. Will your patterns be recipe style, conversational, formal, informal, optimized for printing, filled with detailed tutorials, or…?
  • Phrasing. Are you writing sentences or phrases? How will you explain special stitches or techniques?
  • Yarn. Will you recommend a specific yarn for each pattern or just describe the type of yarn that is best suited to this project? Will you provide recommendations for substituting yarn?
  • Skill levels. Will you use the Craft Yarn Council standard skill levels, will you create your own skill levels, or will you list the specific stitches/skills required for each pattern? Will you including tutorials within the pattern or direct your customers to another source? Or, are your customers more experienced or adventurous (and therefore, don’t need tutorials).
  • Grading. Will your patterns be graded with specific instructions for each size? Or, will each pattern be for one size? Or, will you make a sample in one size and then explain to your customers how to adjust the pattern to fit?

These are just some things to consider as you develop a style sheet. I recommend looking at other designer’s style sheets to see what components you like or don’t like before you develop your own template. Here are two of my free patterns, which use the same overall format of my for sale patterns:

You may also want to check out some traditional magazines, books, and online magazines for ideas.

What about the yarn?

As I mentioned back in episode 34, yarn support is when a yarn company provides a designer with yarn for free in exchange for the designer listing this yarn as the sole recommended yarn in the pattern and in the Ravelry database.

When possible, secure yarn support for your self-publishing patterns. Not only does this save you money, which allows you to grow your business faster, but it also makes it less likely that the yarn you feature in a pattern will be discontinued around the time of publication. Believe it or not, there are many crocheters and knitters who try to make their projects using the same yarn as the designer.

If you can’t secure yarn support, or choose not to, consider whether or not using a discontinued or other stash yarn is acceptable for your pattern and target customers.

And don’t forget your audience, your goals, and your mission

As Lindsey Lewchuk from Knit Eco Chic mentioned in her interview in episode 26, she always checks her idea for a new pattern against her foundational philosophies to see if it is a good fit.

Even if you don’t have a mission statement or articulated philosophy, before you get started think about whether this design will resonate with your target audience or if it fits into your short or long term goals.

I shared a little homework assignment with the new self-publishing designers in the episode! Let me know how that worked out, or if you’ve already self-published designs, how did you come up with your style sheet? Leave a comment below or in the Facebook group, Tweet me at @cyeshowadd me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973. (You can call me for free through the Contact page.)

If you enjoyed the show

You can subscribe to the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show on on iTunes or Stitcher. Please leave an honest review on iTunes or Stitcher and join the mailing list. I’ll let people on the list know in advance about special guests and topics so you can share your questions.

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