How I Became a Crochet Designer

I didn’t plan on designing and selling amigurumi crochet toys, it just happened.
Well, sort of…

This isn’t a story that claims that starting your own small business is easy, and it certainly doesn’t claim that designing crochet amigurumi is for everyone. It’s just my story.

At the end of 2009 I found myself back at home in Vancouver with a shiny new graphic design master’s degree from the UK and poor job prospects. They tell you that education solves everything; but in a very bad global economy, it can’t create miracles and it can’t find you a full time graphic design job after 6 months of unemployment. It was time to reevaluate.

I accepted an internship with a couple of local magazines. It was fun, but I felt undervalued and underutilized. I needed to do something for me. I picked up some yarn and started to create.

My crochet inspiration, Cleo the Smooth Fox Terrier.

I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have a plan, but I had a life-long love of crafting, 4 years of crochet under my belt and thought I should do something for my design portfolio. Being a dog lover, I went to my natural muse, my dog Cleo (rest in peace).

At first, I couldn’t get the shaping. I struggled. I threw little yarn body parts across the room. I just couldn’t get her cute little face just right. And REALLY, it deserved to be just right!

The very first Nattypat Crochet creation

Several prototypes later, I finished this little guy.

I couldn’t contain myself! I ran around showing everyone I knew, family first, then Facebook, then I carried the thing to work. Clearly this was the start of something. I started to write the pattern down. Except for one problem…

While I knew how to crochet and had made many different types of projects, I absolutely, positively, didn’t know how to write a pattern down. Years later, I am shocked at how little I knew. My first written patterns were, and I’ll be kind, not perfect. Yes, they were understandable and others could and did make projects from them; but they weren’t consistent in their terminology/abbreviations and they definitely didn’t stand up to the industry standards set by the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYC).—I urge you to check them out.—Still, I had made my Reggie the Terrier crochet pattern.

My mind raced and the graphic designer in me tingled! I put on my branding hat (my degree is in graphic branding and identity) and started to dream up brand names and more dogs to create. Nattypat Crochet was born. I designed my first pattern sheets—now thankfully outdated and replaced.

The not-so-pretty pattern PDF design from the past.

With each pattern release I clung to my computer checking how many people favorited each project on Ravelry and how many patterns I sold on Etsy. Each favorite, each purchase, each comment was thrilling. So many of you wrote and told me that the Nattypat pups looked like one of your dogs and sent encouraging words. You have no idea how important this is for a burgeoning designer. Keep doing it for everyone that makes work you admire. I can say that I don’t design amigurumi for the money, I just have to. It’s your comments that inspire and keep it alive.

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent tirelessly crocheting, designing and marketing my Nattypat patterns. I can’t tell you that it has always been fun. But, I like, no love, being the person in the room with a cool indie company that’s unexpected and cute. It drives me, it’s my passion. If you’re crazy like me, I highly recommend you give it a try.

♥ Natalie of Nattypat Crochet

2 thoughts on “How I Became a Crochet Designer

  1. Hi, I am from Melbourne. I have been doing crochet seen I was 10 years old and now I am 50 year old, I love crochet and what I want to do a full time traineeship and learn more. Can you advice me on this? Thank you

    • Hi Camela, nice to hear from you. One of the best programs out there is the study-at-home Master’s Program from the Crochet Guild of American (CGOA). It costs a bit over $100 USD and you are required to make 40 crochet swatches following some PDF instructions they send you. Once the swatches are done, you mail them to a reviewer in the United States who will grade them and either pass you or ask to submit again. I’m currently going through this process myself. It takes a long time to complete as, not only do the swatches take time to do, but the CGOA also has a limited number of reviewers (I waited 8 months for a reviewer). It teaches you a lot, but it’s not for the faint of heart. I can also personally recommend courses taught by Edie Eckman which are geared towards professionals in the crochet and knitting industry. I took a course from her on technical editing for crochet patterns which was highly informative and AMAZING while I was at the Stitches West conference a couple years ago. Being in Melbourne, I would suggest that you look for knitting/crochet/fibre conventions that happen in Australia and see what course may be taught at them by industry professionals. Good luck, I hope that helps!

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