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How to Write Your Own Amigurumi Patterns

How to Write Your Own Amigurumi Patterns

Have you been crocheting for a while and find yourself constantly altering, tweaking, and changing the patterns you’re working from? Maybe you’re just itching to get an idea out of your head and bring it to life. I know that feeling all too well. But designing your own pattern is VERY different from following one. It’s scary at first, but don’t worry. I’ve been where you are and I know it seems way too hard, but you CAN do it. By the end of this article, you’ll have the confidence to get started! So let’s talk about how to write your own amigurumi patterns.

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This article was originally published in 2021 and was last updated on 7/4/24.

How to Write Your Own Amigurumi Patterns

Before we get the the fun part (crocheting), you’ll need to grab a sheet of paper and a pen or open a notetaking app on your phone. We’re gonna brainstorm this process.

Step 1: What Do You LOVE Making?

Think about what kinds of items you come back to over and over again. What gets your creative energy flowing? In the realm of amigurumi, there are endless possibilities. From simple animals to mythical beasts and all sorts of mashups, you can create amigurumi that are totally unique.

When I decided to start my pattern design business, I set my focus primarily on amigurumi animals (rather than dolls, food, plants, etc…), since having a cohesive niche is vital. However, if you just want to write patterns for fun or yourself, you can make all manner of things. Not to mention, if you’re not sure yet what you want to focus on, give a bunch of things a try and you’ll figure it out as you go along.

If you are interested in turning your hobby into a pattern design business though, I highly recommend checking out Pamela Grice from The Crochetpreneur since she has a ton of amazing resources for crochet business owners.

But all that business-y stuff aside, for your first pattern, I want you to pick something relatively simple. Whether it’s an animal, plant, doll, etc… try to think of something that doesn’t involve a ton of detail. The goal here is to get the hang of designing and writing so the the simpler the better.

Step 2: Get Prepared

This is kind of a broad step, so we’re going to break it down even further.

What You Need

  • Design notebook: This can be a physical notebook or an app on your phone, computer or tablet. Pick one and stick with it. Otherwise you’ll have notes all over the place and it’ll be much harder to consolidate.
  • Supplies: Yarn and a hook. Depending on the type of project, you may need different supplies.
    • stitch markers, stuffing, safety eyes, tapestry needle, sewing pins, embroidery thread, felting needles, wool roving, wire, carding brushes, etc… (these are just some examples of supplies you may need)
  • Camera: Start with your phone. There’s no need to go buy a super expensive camera when you’re just starting out.
  • Text Document program: Microsoft Word, Google Docs, even Canva (although I wouldn’t use this unless you’re very familiar with creating templates in Canva).

Check the Standards

The Craft Yarn Council has created a pretty comprehensive list of standards for both crochet and knitting. Explore their site and click through the drop down menu under the Standards tab to become familiar with crochet abbreviations.

Even if you have no intention of selling your patterns, it’s a good idea to use the standards because it keeps things consistent. Plus, if you ever decide to sell your patterns in the future, it’ll be that much less work to make them ready for sale.

Step 3: Brainstorm Your Design

No matter what you’re creating, it’s a great idea to find references on the internet. For the example I’m using below, a deer, I Googled various images of deer to get an idea of the over all shape, positioning (sitting, standing, running, etc…) and color inspiration.

reference photo examples for blog post
Royalty-free images sourced from Pixabay.com.

You can even create a Pinterest board with style ideas, color palettes and artwork that inspire your design. Generally speaking, you don’t want to use crochet images as inspiration because it’s too easy to subconsciously copy another designer’s pattern. Copyright infringement is a whole other topic that I’ll cover in another article, but needless to say, stick to references images that aren’t crocheted.

Grab your design notebook and a pencil (or pen if you’re a weirdo like me). Draw a rough sketch of your idea.

If you can’t draw, that’s totally fine! The point of this is to get a better visual of your idea, not an art contest. Here’s what sketches in my design notebook look like.

design pages example image for how to start creating your own crochet patterns
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

All that crazy chicken scratch is a great example of how I worked and reworked my design for Orion the Deer until I was finally happy with it.

Note: Orion the Deer was originally published in 2021 and while I was happy with it at the time, my skills have grown immensely since then. Orion is in the process of being totally re-designed and if you want to stay updated on the progress, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll be the first to know when the pattern gets retested and eventually re-released! – Chanel (7/4/24)

Worry less about it looking nice, and more about getting your idea across to yourself. But before we get into actually writing down row instructions, try to focus on fleshing out a clear image of whatever amigurumi you want to create.

Try not to erase any sketches, even if you think they’re garbage and won’t work. Just redraw beside it or on another page. It’s GOOD to look back at you’re preliminary sketches because maybe you were right the first time or maybe after a couple of days, that sketch will remind you of the new direction you were going in.

This is why I always use pen, but you definitely don’t have to if you aren’t comfortable with that permanence.

Brainstorm Yarn

During the process of sketching your design, think about what kind of yarn you want your finished design to be made of. What is the purpose of your finished item?

For example, if it’s a toy for a child, does it need to washable? If so, then using acrylic yarn or 100% cotton would be ideal. If you’re making something as a gift for an older child or an adult, maybe you can use wool or bamboo yarn since it won’t have to stand up to as much playing. However, wool allergies are a consideration too.

These are all things you need to consider when designing your project.

I personally love to design with Wool of the Andes Worsted (affiliate link) from WeCrochet, which is 100% merino wool and I love it because of the soft texture and amazing range of colors. However, you can use whatever yarn you like!

Spend some time sketching. Try not to erase, instead make a note of what wasn’t working for you in that sketch and move on to the next. Make sure to write notes about the type, weight, and colors of yarn you have in mind for you’re project. When you feel you have a good idea of how to start your project, move to the next step.

Step 4: Make a Sample

Open your design notebook and refer to your sketch/notes.

Note: In the last step we talked about brainstorming yarn ideas for your project. If you’re on a budget, use what you have for the prototype. I like to use those big skeins of Red Heart Super Saver Jumbo because I can use a lot of yarn and for relatively cheap.

Create a sample or prototype. This is the time to crochet your idea without having to worry about taking process photos. However, you do need to TAKE NOTES and write down EVERYTHING you do, even if it’s in shorthand.

Ex. “start w/ MR6 and inc up to 60sts” (Start with a magic ring of 6sc and increase evenly every round until the stitch count is 60sc.)

Referencing my sketch often, I start trying to create the same shapes. Is the head round or tapered? Is the neck going to be thin and curved or straight? Do I want the body to flair out sharply or grow slowly? If you’re not sure exactly how to create the shape that you want, I have a few articles that might help:

This is just a few, but I have articles on all sorts of topics from stuffing tips to color work to needle felting. Explore the Tips & Tricks section in the menu to see what other articles might help you design!

After every single row, if you like the direction the shape is going in, write down what you did. If not, frog that row and try again. Sometimes, I get several rows down and decide I don’t like it, so I frog back to where I want to fix the issue (crossing out my notes and fixing as I go) and redo it. And that’s totally fine. It’s all a part of the process.

The point is, this step is all about trial and error. You’ll be amazed by how much you learn in this step alone.

Create your swatch/sample/prototype. Take your time. However, this is the practice run, so don’t spend too long here. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Be sure to keep track of stitch counts at the end of your rows in your notebook (you’ll thank me later).

5. Designer’s Choice: Make Another Sample or Start Writing

You can either make another sample or jump right to writing. This totally depend on you and if you feel comfortable in your design or if you think it needs more work.

Make Another Sample

If you’re just not quite happy with your first sample, make another! Follow your notes and pay attention to what you think it working and not working.

I like to use different pen colors. So my initial notes are in black and then I make corrections in red or blue. Maybe my stitch count was off or there was supposed to be 3sc after that increase instead of 2sc.

If you decide to completely scrap the first sample, that’s fine too! Just be aware of why. Keep it handy to you can compare the differences.

You can repeat this step as many times as you need. This is YOUR design.

Start Writing

This part is gonna seem terrifying, I’ll admit. You might be staring at a blank word doc, just wondering how in the heck you’re going to translate your notes into a cohesive pattern.

It’s ok. I’ve been there. When I started, I had literally no idea what I was doing, but through a little trial and error, I figured it out and so can you! But unlike me, you don’t have to do it alone.

Here’s the basic format of an amigurumi pattern:

  1. Start with a title page. Include the title, your name (or business name), a picture of the project, and any disclaimer information.
  2. Your next page should include: Materials, Stitch Abbreviations, Gauge (if applicable), and Project Notes (any additional information: difficulty level, etc…).
  3. Break your pattern into logical sections. For amigurumi, this may look like: Head, Body, Arms x2, Legs x2.
    1. Write one row at a time and be sure to include your stitch counts at the end in parentheses.
  4. If your piece has several parts that need to be seamed or sewn together, put all the Assembly instructions in one section.
    • For no sew patterns, assembly might be mixed into different sections. Try to put everything in a logical order.
    • In some cases, parts might need to be assembled first before other pieces are made. Like I said, just try to put all the sections in a logical order and make a note in the Project Notes section that pieces are to be made in a certain order (if applicable).
  5. Finish off with a final photo and a thank you! Some designers add a section with tester photos which is a great way to not only show off the design, but can inspired whomever is making the pattern.

If you’re still a little unsure, take a look at my free Nico the Narwhal Pattern to get a better idea of the structure of a pattern without photos.

6. Make the Final Version

You’ve got this! We’re nearly there!

Now that you’ve written your pattern, grab your chosen yarn and get settled.

Follow the pattern that you just typed up. If you run into any typos or little mistakes, go ahead and fix them as you go.

Be sure to take LOTS of pictures. I suggest pausing every few rows to take a clear and bright photo. You won’t use all these pictures, but you want to have a lot to pick from when you’re finalizing the pattern.

If there is a tricky section that you think might confuse people, take even MORE photos. Something that makes sense to you won’t always make sense to other people. You may even want to film a video tutorial. I know that probably sounds daunting, but the clearer you can make the pattern to begin with, the less issues you’ll have later.

Also make sure to add instructions like: ‘Fasten off with a long tail for sewing.’ Best practice is to pretend that anyone who might look at your pattern is a COMPLETE beginner. Who knows, they might be. More is better than less in this case.

Action Step: Make the final version of your project. Take lots and lots of process photos, including nice finished photos. If you’re not familiar with taking good photos or editing them, check out this article: Take Better Photos of Your Amigurumi on a Budget.

7. ‘Final’ Edits to the Pattern

You might be wondering why I have ‘Final’ in quotations. The reason is that until that pattern is published, nothing is final. For the sake of not making this blog post a novel, I won’t get into publishing just yet.

In this section, we’re going to go line by line and proofread, edit, format, and add photos.

Google Docs functions very similarly to Word, but it’s free and better (in my opinion) because you can connect to Google Drive/Photos. If you have your photos uploaded to Drive, you can insert them directly from Docs.

Action Step: Go line by line and insert your photos, fix your formatting, and proofread. When you’re finished, if you intend to sell this pattern, the next step is to call for testers but I’ll have more on that in future blog posts.

Summary

One important thing to remember is that these steps don’t need to be worked in order. This is just a general outline.

As you design more and get more practice, you’ll develop your own process and it may look very different from this. You’ll learn what you like and what works for you through trial and error.

  1. What do you LOVE making?
  2. Get prepared
  3. Brainstorm your design
  4. Make a sample
  5. Designer’s choice: make another sample or start writing
  6. Make the final version
  7. ‘Final’ edits to the pattern

I hope you liked this article and found it helpful! Are you ready to try writing your first pattern? Is there any steps that you get stuck on? Share your thoughts in the comments below! As always, be sure to share this post with your crochet friends and subscribe to my newsletter so you never miss a new article, pattern release or special event!

Til next time, happy stitching!

2 thoughts on “How to Write Your Own Amigurumi Patterns

    • Author gravatar

      Nice post…and timely as I am working on my first official pattern design. Thanks for the information.

      • Author gravatar

        You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful! I’ll be doing a follow-up post soon about getting your patterns tested and how to upload them to sites like Etsy and Ravelry, but if you have any questions in the mean time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

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