Crochet Pattern Writing - Part 2: Pattern Notes

I wanted to get a picture of what it looks like while I'm working on a new pattern, but haven't had time to start anything lately -- so, you'll have to forgive me for the delay in getting this post out. But at long last... here we go!

Working on my latest pattern
For those of you who don't guess immediately, I'm working on the green Angry Bird pattern now (I think it's a toucan).

Whenever I work on a new pattern, I like to set up a work space where I have enough room for my supplies and my beloved pattern notebooks. My personal favorite for the little books I keep my notes in is a 5" x 7" spiral bound notebook. The ones shown in the picture are by Carolina Pad and have a little pocket inside the flap for my scribbles that got torn out.

But enough about the books I keep my notes in... let's talk about the notes themselves. In my last post on pattern writing, I told you that I often sketch the object that I want to crochet in my notebook -- especially if I'm having trouble getting my head around the shapes that make up the whole. But this trick can also act as a great little "visual index" in your pattern notebook. That way, when you flip through the pages looking for a long lost pattern -- you know exactly where one pattern ends and the next one ends.

Sketches, color notes, and the start of a pattern
Like many other amigurumi designers, I use a lot of spherical shapes in my patterns and often start out with a plain, flat circle (see above). At first, I wrote down the exact instructions to makes these shapes, but as you can imagine... that takes a lot of time. So, I've narrowed it down to my own kind of shorthand. For example, a sphere that will have 48 stitches in its widest round will look like this in my pattern notes:

6 - 12 - 18 - 24 - 30 - 36 - 42 - 48
48 x ||||| |||
42 - 36 - 30 - 24 - 18 - 12 - 6

Since I usually work in multiples of six, I only need the final stitch counts for each round on my increase and decrease rounds. Since I don't always know how big a sphere is going to be until I've made that beginning flat circle, I list stitch counts for each of the rounds as I go (as opposed to noting "make a sphere with a circumference of 48 SC STS").

When I get to a round that I want to repeat (in the case of the example, the round with 48 STS), I make a slash after completing each round. This quick notation allows me to pause only briefly when I complete a round and get back to crocheting quickly.

If I need to do a round that has some kind of variation on my typical multiple-of-six design, then I write out the entire instruction. For example, in the egg for the white Angry Bird, my increase rounds went like this:

*(2 SC in first, SC, SC). Repeat x1 (8)
*(2 SC in first, SC, SC). Repeat x2 (12)
18 x |

In rounds 2 and three, I did an unusual increase pattern and wanted to make sure I was able to duplicate that when I wrote out the pattern. But in round 4, I was back to my usual multiple-of-six scheme, so there was no need for extra notes.

Once I've done a shape that I know will work, I also will refer back to previous patterns. For example, in my Angry Birds blue bird pattern, I use essentially the same feathers and beak as the cardinal...

Refer back to an older pattern with modifications
So, my notes have a "refer back" and a penciled in modification (remove one round of 10 STS from the beak).

So there you have it -- a peek into my precious pattern notebooks! When I get time next, I'm going to try to start putting out some basic shape designs to help you get started with your own pattern writing. But if you want to get started right away, I've just published a simple pattern for Japanese Paper Lanterns that will help you get the idea of how to make a sphere and an elongated sphere. Best of all, all the proceeds for this pattern will go to the American Red Cross to help with disaster relief in Japan. Check it out!


  1. I want that crochet hook!
    Where did you get it???

  2. I can't wait for that tucan pattern

  3. AS I was reading your blog..I realized i design crochet pattrns pretty much the same way. I have several note books full of drawings, an ideas and some have turned into real patterns.http://poshpoochdesignsdogclothes.blogspot.com/

  4. So glad you all are enjoying this series! I'm excited to do more :-)

    @Out on a Limb - my crochet tool of choice is the Clover Soft Touch hook. You can get them at most large craft stores (Michael's or Jo-Ann's). If you're international, try Jo-Ann's web site, www.joann.com