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Woolly creations to make at home: What it's like to be a crochet pattern designer

Laura Sutcliffe first taught herself to crochet as a way to unwind during her spare time.

Laura Sutcliffe has published more than 200 crochet patterns
Laura Sutcliffe has published more than 200 crochet patterns

Now she designs patterns for children’s toys and seasonal decorations that are enjoyed by crafters across the globe.

The former video editor, who lives in Church Stretton, published her first pattern in 2014.

Since then she has released more than 200 designs, which all contain instructions and photos to guide people through the step-by-step process.

“It started as a hobby. My daughter was born in 2010 and I needed some stress relief and some time to myself in the evening,” explains Laura.

“I’ve always been quite crafty and I learned to crochet by following YouTube videos.”

Laura's popular frog coin purse

Creating her own patterns was a natural step after being unable to find existing patterns for items she wanted to make.

“If you have the idea for something you want and if you can’t find an existing pattern, then you try doing it yourself. I started a Facebook page with photos of the things I was making and people would ask me how I made them,” says Laura.

Her first published pattern was for a coin purse in the shape of a frog, which proved a huge hit with crafters and the positive response spurred her on to design more.

“I don’t know why these things happen but it went viral online and I sold a few thousand copies. It gave me the motivation to carry on,” explains Laura.

Getting a pattern ready to be published and available to buy, can take between three weeks and a month, depending on the complexity of the design.

“From the initial idea, I will start with a rough drawing of what I want it to look like. I then break it down into its component shapes. Then it’s trial and error and I make notes of what I’m doing as I go.

“From these notes I will make another and take photos of each step. I then write out all of the instructions and lay it out with the photos. I send the pattern to independent pattern testers before it gets published on Ravelry and Etsy,” explains Laura.

The patterns contain a list of all the tools and yarn colours needed to complete the project. Laura also provides details of any additional items that are required such as stuffing or buttons.

Her mouse in a suitcase design

Her most popular pattern to date is a pig with piglets, which is part of a series featuring animals and their young.

“I tend to work in series of patterns. A few years ago my daughter went through a phase of making her dolls have babies so I wrote a pattern for a birthing mother and baby. The doll’s body has an internal pocket to contain the baby. I then did a series of birthing animals with their babies. One idea tends to lead to another,” explains Laura.

At the moment, she is working on the latest creation in her mouse series. “I made a mouse with a suitcase and a change of clothes, a mouse in a car, a mouse in a plane and now I’m make a mouse on a train with mice in the carriages,” Laura tells Weekend.

She also has series of patterns for coin purses, bookmarks, Christmas decorations, homeware items, playsets and pocket pals as well as amigurumi. The latter is the Japanese art of crocheting small, stuffed toys.

As part of her creative process, she enjoys sharing photos of projects on her Facebook page and inviting people to share their feedback and ideas.

“I really value the feedback I get from my Facebook page. People like being asked for their opinions and then seeing their opinions being taken into account.

“I get really good feedback on my patterns. It’s good to know what people find useful whether it’s photos of each of the steps or getting them independently tested. It could be something as simple as putting page numbers on so when you drop all the pages on the floor, you know what order they go in,” explains Laura.

When learning how to crochet, most beginners will start with basic stitches, learn to master them, and build up their skills from there.

“It’s a great hobby and you can make anything you want, clothes, toys or things for your homes. I would definitely recommend watching someone whether you are sat with them or watching videos, I found books difficult because you can’t see the hand movement,” says Laura.

Writing patterns and seeing her customers’ creations brings her a lot of joy, she tells Weekend.

“It’s amazing. I really enjoy seeing my patterns being used and they are being used all over the world. I’ve had customers in America and Australia. People are making things from my patterns and their children are playing with them. It’s really rewarding.”

“I’m doing my hobby all day, every day, it’s what I would choose to do in my spare time and I feel very lucky to be able to do it,” adds Laura.

To see more of Laura’s work, visit lauralovescrochet.com or facebook.com/LauraLovesCrochet

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