I teach people to crochet. More specifically, I’m very keen on teaching folks how to crochet adorable stuffed animals. I also teach crocheters how to create their own stuffed animal designs.
This last aspect of my chosen career has raised some eyebrows. I’ve been asked, “Aren’t you diluting your brand by teaching others to crochet like you?” and “Aren’t you creating your own competition?”. Wow. Big questions.
Today, I’m going to chat about my answers to questions, and share with you the reason I teach design: because folks from my classes are becoming designers and releasing their own patterns… and that makes me ecstatic! Isn’t that why teachers teach? To see students put to practice what they learned? I think it is!
FAQ: Fears about teaching design
I understand where these fears come from. It’s tough to make a living selling $5 patterns, and so there’s a natural defensiveness that can arise.
But I don’t think of my job as competitive. My job is to publish high-quality crochet patterns featuring designs in my own, unique style. And people who like my style might buy my patterns.
It’s hard for me to get my tail feathers in a ruffle when a new designer comes along. Miss New Designer has her own style! Some people will like it, and that’s okay. People will still like my patterns.
I’ll answer a couple of frequently asked questions.
Q: Don’t you think that teaching other people to design in your style will dilute your brand?
No, I don’t.
First, I teach certain techniques (like crocheting through the back loop and crocheting spiral rounds) because I think these create a better crochet fabric & overall design. In my opinion, these are techniques for your crochet toolbox, not ‘secrets’ of my style. I wasn’t the first person to ever use the back loop in crocheting, and I won’t be the last!
Second, ‘my style’ is something that’s difficult to teach or copy. My style is the ideas that pop into my head. My style is my judgement call about whether a nose looks better attached to round 8 or 10. I’m not trying to teach ‘my style’ because I’m not sure that I could! What I teach is methods for allowing crocheters to express their own style in the form of a unique design and, if they want, a crochet pattern.
Third, my brand is more than just my designs. My brand is a reputation for incredibly clear and photo-rich crochet patterns. It’s my commitment to replying to questions via email in a quick and helpful manner. It’s my blog, full of tutorials and videos. None of those things are diluted by teaching others to design.
Aren’t you afraid you’ll sell fewer patterns if there are more designers?
Not really. Keep in mind: there are always going to be more designers! You can’t stop that.
A revised question might be: can there be too many crochet stuffed animal designers? And I don’t think so. There’s a very interesting phenomenon that happens: the more people do something, the bigger the niche grows.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s pretend you were a computer manufacturer in 1980. You were probably one of the only two manufacturers in existence. But, there were only a few thousand people using computers. What happened over time? The more manufactures built computers, the more customers bought computers. Which meant that owning a computer was more useful: more friends had them and more software was being made. The entire niche grew. Now there are dozens of manufactures, but there are billions of users. The number of customers per manufacturer has increased, despite increased competition.
And that’s how crocheting is. It’s a myth that there are x number of crocheters out there that us designers are fighting for. As more people crochet, it’s more likely someone will think, “hmm… my friend makes those cute animals, maybe I’ll give it a try!” We’re constantly adding to the pool of crocheters.
Is someone going to steal your designs?
Here’s another truth: if someone is steal your design, they’re going to do it. In fact, oodles of crocheters already have the skills to copy a design, even without the benefit of my fabulous teaching skills.
I’m not making the problem any worse by teaching crocheters to design. I’m training crocheters to come up with their own designs! To put in yarn ideas that come from their own heads! If anything, I think I’m solving the problem of knock-off-ing.
Anyway, every student I’ve had (in real life or online) has been a real joy. Once we’ve spent hours together, it feels like we’re friends. If anything, it’s my students who are the most protective in online forums about my rights as a designer. Because we’ve built a relationship of trust. They’re not in it to steal my designs or hurt me!
Meet who makes me happy!
Okay, now onto the fun stuff!
I want to introduce you to two ladies who make me deliriously happy. They’re students of mine who are budding designers!
Hollie is a sweetie, who also happens to be one of the moderators in the FreshStitches Ravelry group. She’s the one who puts together the amazing swaps that happen in the group, and also the one who surprised me with the FreshStitches Cowl that I chatted about as being one of my fave pieces.
Introductions aside, Hollie just published her first pattern this week!
It’s a Triceratops Lovey… and isn’t it amazing? The triceratops is just stinkin’ adorable, and the detail on the lovey is fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Love Hollie? Check out the lovey, find Hollie on Ravelry and check out Hollie’s blog!
If you follow this blog, you know Alyssa! She’s the author of the much-loved What does Amigurumi Mean? blog post and also winner of the Slug-a-long. Alyssa is a smartie with a fabulous photographic and styling eye.
Alyssa also just completed her first design:
An adorable horse! It’s still in the pattern-development stage, but rumor has it that it’ll be released as a pattern next month. So exciting!
Love Alyssa? find Alyssa on Ravelry!
Do you see why I do what I do?
With great students like this… teaching is such a fabulous experience!
If you think you’d like to give designing a shot (even if it’s just for your own fun!), come over to my Design Your Own Monster class!
When I put together the pattern for my crocheted lymph node, I did try to think about how you phrase things in your patterns. I’m not looking at making it a FreshStitches look a like but I’m aiming for the same level of clarity.
@Vanessa- That’s such a compliment! Seriously. I can’t imagine anything better.
When I first began writing patterns, some professionals gave me heavy criticism about my pattern-writing style. They said it was unnecessarily verbose. That writing so much looked ‘amateurish’, and why couldn’t I use oodles of abbreviations like was industry standard?
But, I thought about my mom, who swears that she can’t read crochet patterns. I know why she feels that way. Most patterns (especially ones that are short on space, like those in a book or on the back of a yarn label) are a complete foreign language. I often feel stumped by them, and I’m by no means a newbie. So I thought, “why can’t I write patterns that are easy to read?”
So, I’m enormously happy that a few other people agree with me 🙂
I for one will always be eternally grateful that people like you are willing to share their passion with others. If it had not been for you outstanding courses and patterns I would still be looking at the patterns and wishing I could make them. Not only have I started learning how to make them I have improved my regular crochet because of all your wonderful tips and tricks.
So wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Noreen!
I’m a relatively new follower of your blog – only been crocheting about 6 months, and your slug-a-long is the first amigurumi that I’m trying (I’m late, but still plugging along!). The reason I was drawn to your blog and to jump in to amigurumi was because of your warm, friendly style…and this post just proves what an amazing person and designer you are! Not only are you generous with your time, tips, and ideas…you are generous in spirit to share your space and promote other designers. I will be a follower for a very long time – and think this only enhances your brand, and would never detract from it! After I try a few more amigurumi patterns, I look forward to taking your class to learn to design my own patterns. Thank you for all that you do!
Thank you, Karie! I think by helping each other out, we can all grow. Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants”, and I couldn’t agree more.
I’m the designer that I am because others have helped me. I’ve learned photography skills from amazing blog posts, helpful folks and by taking classes from those willing to share their knowledge. I’m always learning and I’m happy to be in an ‘internet circle’ of folks who are learning and sharing along with me!
Stacy you are great. One of the best teachers and best teaching attitude of anyone I have come across in my many years. Keep up the god work. I am more likely to buy your patterns and will continue to purchase them because they are so well written and because I love you as a teacher. I will also be buying Hollie’s pattern
Marion- Thank you so much! It’s really nice to receive such a compliment!
Would people suggest we should not encourage new writers because we already have enough authors? Of course not. I find it fascinating that though I have access to the exact same stock of words as every other writer in the English language, nobody else can write my stories.
Not only is there not a fixed number of crocheters, there is not a fixed number of ideas which a designer is in danger of using up and running out of or which, if “taken” by one designer is not available for use by others. Creative activity occurs in the imagination, which is not governed by the same limits as the material world.
You said it fabulously Justine!
Thank you Stacey for this fantastic post. The main reason I love buying your patterns and following your blog is because of your openness and enthusiasm for sharing your passion and encouraging others to do the same.
I really want to get into pattern design myself and it is wonderful to know that no only do you support new designers but you are actually building a community of new designers and finished item sellers who all share the same passion.
I will be buying your Design your own Monster course soon and I can’t wait to buy Hollie’s pattern either!
Thanks again 🙂
It is just amazing that you posted this! I have attended both your classes on Craftsy, bought both your books and am awaiting more!! I have made and sold things using patterns and have never considered that was infringing on someones rights. But because of your friendly attitude and the fact that i feel like we are friends I would never sell anything i made from one of your patterns without giving you credit! I am not even sure why I never thought of it in the past.
I have crocheted for 2 years or so but never even thought I would ever want to try Amigurumi until i saw your class on Craftsy. And now I am hooked! I loved your classes and your books, You are awesome and I am so glad that you are willing to share your talent with us!
Stacey I so agree with everything that has been said above about you and your open heart to give freely. You will never lose with that attitude. Some call it Karma, others would call it a Christian principle, but you can’t out give, it will always return to you in abundance.
I have been encouraged by so much of what you do and say and especially this post has enticed me to consider designing and trying to sell what I design. Actually my granddaughter, Cassandra, will be the designer, I will be the one that interprets her designs into crochet, but I am committed to always giving you credit with any design we do so that your generosity comes back to you over and over again. 🙂
Thank you, Joyce!
Keep me posted on your & your Grandaughter’s designs… sounds like a fabulous way to spend time together, even if the process doesn’t end up with finished patterns 🙂
Stacey I am thinking that we need our own blog and I am not sure how to go about this process. Is your website part of the blog or have you linked your blog to the webpage? What would you suggest to start me in the right direction?
Cassandra and I went out yesterday and had the most wonderful fun buying drawing materials for her to get started on designing. She was feeling very ‘unconfident’ at first but when she showed me her first design idea and I loved it, she started to relax and let her creative juices flow. ( Hopefull we will have the first prototype finished this week to show you.)
I have always believed that she would get into writing children’s books so this just might be the catalyst to get her started.
I can see I am going to be asking you a lot of questions in the months to come. lol.
Thanks again for such wonderful encouragement.
My website and blog are the same thing. I have wordpress and host it in my own domain name (which I purchase from hostmonster.com).
If you don’t mind having ‘name.wordpress.com’, then you can have it hosted with them, and skip the buying/renting of your own domain name.
There’s a blogging group on Ravelry (the blog hub and blogging are the names, I think) and they have a lot of discussions about whether wordpress or blogger is better/easier. I’d recommend checking those out for deciding what’s right for you.
Hope that helps!
Thanks Stacey. I will follow that through and see what I come up with. I appreciate the advice.
I love this way of thinking and I totally agree. As someone who is just coming into their own in amigurumi design I love to hear about big name designers that are happy to teach. Definitely makes me more interested in spending money on their patterns and learning from them knowing they aren’t going to be bashing me if I turn around and use something I learned from them in my own design!! Thank you for sharing the wealth!! It’s very encouraging.