Crochet Design: My Essentials

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how and where I get my inspiration for designs. There is really no easy answers.  Sometimes its something I’ve seen. Sometimes its a stitch pattern I like.  Sometimes, its because there is something I have to design.  But no matter where inspiration comes from, there are some essential tools I use to making them happen.

I could not live without my collection of stitch dictionaries.  I have very strict rules about going onto Pinterest and Ravelry when I am designing, so I rely on these for some serious inspiration.  Stitch dictionaries are essential to design, imho.  These are the 3 I use.

- 300 Crochet Patterns

I bought this from etsy and it has paid for itself.  Charted, like most Japanese crochet books – a huge source of inspiration with some unusual stitch combinations.

- Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs
This is an enormous book and the newest addition to my library.  It has lots of lace and crochet fabric stitch patterns.  It contains charted and english instructions and is organised by stitches.  Its good and will be really useful in future garment designs.

- Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia
An excellent taster of a book – it has lace and borders and Tunisian and cables and…just a lot of different crochet patterns.  It’s the only one I have found that has a decent section of crochet cables.

For designing garments, I find Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker essential.  All of these books are written for knitting, but it’s not terribly hard to convert them to crochet.  Knitting without Tears saved me many when writing Crochet at Play, as I had no idea how to design a jumper and this talked me through the steps I needed. Also useful is the Knitter’s Almanac. I am currently working on a cardigan with seamless set in sleeves, something I could not have made without Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top. What is great about all of these is that they aren’t knit by numbers books, rather they all tell you how to design your own garments, explaining the theories behind how each step works.  Invaluable information, particularly when paired with advice from sources like Ravelry and other friendly designers.


My other essentials are:

My Graphics Tablet.  I LOVE this thing.  I am terrible at drawing and I love this for pulling together sketches that don’t look they were drawn by E, and making colourwork charts.  I use Adobe Creative Cloud for all of my image and design processing – so this just helps make it all a bit easier.

Silly I know, but I am soooooo picky about the hooks and scissors I use.  The scissors are from John Lewis and the hooks are the ones I talk about here. I keep meaning to phone the company and ask about supplying them to the UK, but I never remember during US business hours.

Finally, I love my sketchbook.  It’s just a notebook with grid paper, but its my entire life – lists, and designs and sketches.

What are the tools you can’t live with out?

4 responses

  • I absolutely love both Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker – wonderful, wise women :)
    As a gatherer of all things “related to making things that might be useful one day” I am very grateful that I’ve acquired a number of old stitch dictionaries, both crochet and knitting. And old patterns for inspiration, and yarn… My handmade (homemade) interchangable needle roll with a zip pocket for bits, is the thing I couldn’t do without.

  • I am very intrigued about the bamboo tablet….I will have to look it up so I understand what it is properly…it sounds magical.
    TOTALLY 100% agree with you about the sharp vs blunt hooked crochet hooks. I have a whole set of blunt ones that Inever use.

    It seems like forever sinc I’ve designed anything with yarn, but I have folders of pictures from magazines ( now pinterest) of stitches I like, colour combinations I like, and styles of garments I like. I also have grid books….mainly filled with my intarsia designs from when I used to do a lot of intarsia knitting. But to be honest, I am more a start knitting/crocheting, write it down as I go kind of designer which is why I don’t do it for a living! A quick sketch and a general idea in my head is usually my starting point. I do have a bunch of stitch reference books….which I left behind…and it’s always good to see others recommendations. I got the Elizabeth Z book knitting without tears from the library once because I’d seen it recommended so much, but I found it reaaly hard to read… Give me a good grid pattern any day.

  • If I hadn’t read knitting without tears, I honestly don’t think I’d be designing now, such a good book. Off to amazon to look for those lovely stitch books, I don’t have any of those ones! X

  • I’d add a tape measure to the mix. I’ve got loads although I never seem to be able to find one when I need it; I suspect they walk off in small fingers under cover of darkness. My favourite is a Lantern Moon sheep with the tape coming out of its tail.