Tips for Writing Crochet Patterns -- 'Blueprint Crochet' with Robyn Chachula

Posted by on Jul 02, 2013

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Robyn Chachula / Vogue Knitting


Crochet patterns traditionally have an abundance of abbreviations and letters, which can be confusing and make it easy to lose one's place. Crafter, crochet-pattern designer and author of "Blueprint Crochet Sweaters: Techniques for Custom Construction" Robyn Chachula wanted something less difficult. She calls it blueprint crochet, which means crochet patterns written using symbol diagrams instead of only text. The diagrams appeal to her engineering background while also helping her overcome any mistakes due to dyslexia. Read on for more information about Robyn's unique blueprint crochet patterns.

blueprint crochet
How would you describe blueprint crochet to those who aren't familiar?

"Blueprint" is a term from my engineering life. Basically when I design, I will literally draw the schematic and figure out all the ins and outs (like stitch repeat counts or motifs counts) completely before I pick up my hook. I work out every confusing detail (such as neck shaping) in symbol diagrams before I pick up my hook to crochet. That way when I do start to crochet, I have an entire blueprint I can follow to construct the project. If I need to change my blueprint, it's much easier to do so.

What are the pros of blueprint crochet patterns? Any cons?

Following stitch diagrams are fantastic for finding errors before you get through a huge bout of crocheting. They are like paint-by-number diagrams. You place your crochet stitch in the crochet stitch the symbol is pointing to. The only issue is most are drawn for right-handed crocheters. For left-handed crocheters, your brain either automatically switches the direction of the stitches or you need to use a mirror to switch the direction.
blueprint crochet
What are some common struggles for those reading a blueprint crochet pattern? Any tips for overcoming?

It can be like learning any new language or technique. It just takes time for your brain to connect the little symbols to what you are really crocheting. I think the easiest way to learn is to jump right in. Try a stitch pattern or motif that has a diagram and written directions. That way you can go back and forth between the two ways to train your brain. For me, having the skill really does help in any pattern, and I believe it so much that I teach how to read diagrams in every one of my classes (whether in person or online).

Do you still use traditional crochet patterns when you crochet for fun — or do you wish you were working from a blueprint design?

I never use writing-only patterns. I am dyslexic, and I find them incredibly confusing. Symbol diagrams are the only way I can figure out where to put my stitches. The diagrams act as little road maps for me, and I know I am always on track if I follow along. Plus, it opens up a world of crochet patterns from all over the globe.
cover of Blueprint Crochet Sweaters
Robyn Chachula is the author of "Blueprint Crochet Sweaters: Techniques for Custom Construction," published by Interweave Press.

Image credits (from top): Robyn Chachula, Vogue Knitting, Vogue Knitting, Interweave and Crochet Today

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