If you hang around Sweet Bird Crochet for any amount of time, you’ll soon find out that I love empowering designers through education and mentorship. Whether I’m tech editing a crochet pattern or writing a blog post, I strive to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the last two decades about the crochet industry.
I’ve been an avid crocheter for almost 20 years and am a certified crochet instructor and tech editor.
That means I spend most of my day editing crochet patterns and then spend other parts of my day teaching others crochet. To say I’m a pattern nerd is an understatement!
The first time I looked at a crochet pattern, I quickly understood the terminology and language. The shorthand abbreviations felt very familiar. Understanding crochet patterns came more naturally than crocheting what the design intended me to make!
Stepping into a crochet tech editor and educator role came naturally, and I love working with crochet designers!
Pin it Now, Read it Later!
As I work with crochet designers to get their patterns ready for publishing, some designers need help figuring out what Skill Level (or Difficulty Level) their pattern falls into. This can be especially tricky if you’re a new designer.
The Craft Yarn Council determined these Skill Levels. But who is the Craft Yarn Council? The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) began in 1981 and is a nonprofit trade association. This council includes manufacturers and distributors of yarn, hooks, tools, and accessories used in crochet and knitting. It also includes publishers of magazines, books, and industry consultants.
The council members include the following companies:
Red Heart Yarns
Prym Consumer USA, Inc.
Prime Publishing LLC
Lion Brand Yarn Company
Clover Needlecrafts, Inc.
Boye Needles and Crafts
Aksa Acrylic Fibers
They’ve also received input from allied US associations such as:
The Crochet Guild of America
The Knitting Guild Association
The National Needle Arts Association
These members have worked diligently to put together a series of guidelines to bring consistency to yarn, needle/hook labeling, and professionally published patterns. Setting up these standards made it so much easier for consumers like us to choose the correct materials for the projects we want to make.
Let’s break each of these Skill Levels down before digging into the application part of how to include these levels into your patterns.
Industry Standard for Crochet Skill Levels:
Projects using basic stitches. This may include basic increases and decreases.
Projects may include simple stitch patterns, color work, and/or shaping.
Projects may include involved stitch patterns, color work, and/or shaping.
Projects may include complex stitch patterns, color work, and or/shaping using a variety of techniques and stitches simultaneously.
These levels are concise, giving a clear and brief explanation of each one. However, many designers will look at these standards and feel their pattern doesn’t quite fit any one level. It could be that their pattern may fall in the ‘in between’ of a level, OR maybe the designer needs more explanation of each level.
Let’s take a closer look at each level and explain further what each level involves.
BASIC: Your crochet projects will fit into the Basic Skill Level IF:
- You only use basic stitches (slip stitch, chain stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochets.
- You don’t use any color changes in your project. Your fabric will be one color throughout.
- You use basic increases and decreases, meaning one increase or decrease at a time.
EASY: Your crochet projects will fit into the Easy Skill Level IF:
- You use a combination of basic stitches throughout your design.
- You use front and back post stitches.
- You use colorwork in your project. This color change can occur in a new row/round or within the same row/round.
- You use more increases/decreases to create shaping in your fabric.
INTERMEDIATE: Your crochet projects will fit into the Intermediate Skill Level IF:
- You use more than just the basic stitches in your design. These stitches include (but aren’t limited to) Tunisian crochet, bobble stitch, popcorn stitch, waffle stitch, back or front loops, herringbone stitch, crocodile stitch, iris stitch, and the list goes on!
- You use crochet techniques like large clusters, multiple increases/decreases across a row/round, and numerous stitch patterns.
- You use a lot of colorwork in your fabric to create designs and images.
COMPLEX: Your crochet projects will fit into the Complex Skill Level IF:
- You use complex stitches in your design. Complicated stitches include lover’s knot, diamond waffle stitch, star stitch, interlocking zigzags, crossed stitches, Celtic weave, feather and fan stitch, cable work, floating stitches, and the list goes on!
- You use complex crochet techniques like filet crochet, bead crochet, Intermeshing, Cro-Tatting, etc.
- You use an assembly of multiple pieces. Examples would be garments and more involved amigurumi patterns.
I hope this helps you better decide what Skill Level your pattern falls into!
So, what about those of us who publish patterns independently from a magazine or publishing company? Do we have to use Industry Standards to list Skill Levels in our patterns?
First, I’ll give you the honest, no-fooling, this is plain as day answer: No. You’re an independent publisher. You set the rules for your patterns, and you don’t HAVE to follow any standards used in the professional crochet pattern world.
As a professional pattern writer, certified crochet tech editor, and independent pattern publisher, I always recommend that designers use industry standards when publishing their patterns. Using industry standards when listing items, such as Skill Level, is one small way to do your part in bringing consistency to the crochet industry.
I need to clarify something. Skill Level or Difficulty Level doesn’t reflect the makers’ abilities to crochet the item you’ve designed. Skill Level does not define a crochet maker. It is to define your crochet pattern.
Because of this, many designers find it challenging when listing Skill Levels. Their pattern might be “Easy” because it uses all single crochets and multiple increases/decreases like in amigurumi patterns. However, the makers must know more than basic techniques to complete your pattern.
Here’s how to solve that problem. You can use industry standards to put your pattern into a level AND include a section called “What You Need To Know” or “Skills Needed” or, better yet, “What You’ll Learn.” Adding this section will allow you to include important information the maker needs to know before purchasing or making your pattern.
If you include a “What You’ll Learn” or “Skill Needed” section, don’t go crazy with the info you share. Yes, make a detailed list, but there’s no need to overshare information.
Being an independent pattern publisher allows you more freedom to customize your pattern to fit the needs of your audience. Whether you stick strictly with industry standards or customize your pattern, work with a Tech Editor to ensure your pattern is as perfect as possible before publishing. You want to ensure your audience gets the best version of all your hard work! Is your pattern written and ready for editing? I’d love to work with you! Fill out the FORM HERE to get started!