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From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal

Resources Page for Presentation given by Vashti Braha: From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal  CGOA Professional Development Day, Reno NV September 12, 2012

Clickable links are listed below under four subheadings, but first!  A Gallery of Ten Crochet Photography Challenges I’ve Encountered (out of Thousands)  Click or double-click on a photo for details.

1. Creating, Choosing, Sharing Images of Swatches, Sketches, and Designs


2. Why Photography Skills for all Crochet Professionals are Important

Photography has been a challenging journey for me. I’m a crochet designer and teacher first. Perhaps this is why I was slow to realize that every photo I take is also my intellectual property (therefore a business asset) with the same potential infinite value as a crochet design. The more rights one retains to each type of original crochet-related content (whether photo, diagram, text, video, etc.), the more capital one has. Forever. Content to be used as the rights holder sees fit, especially in the unforeseen opportunities the future holds. In other words, do yourself a big favor: err on the side of sitting on the full rights to too much content, because chances are your future self will be glad you did. I speak from experience already! Regarding photography for example, I only waited 2 years to learn how saving my seemingly superfluous photos pays off.

I may never see myself as a professional photographer, but everything I’ve learned about it has been worth the effort, both personally and professionally. Understanding how cameras and light and angles work is nice; even better are the unexpectedly deeper and almost spiritual things photography is teaching me, like: the kinds of beauty I used to overlook; what I want to see and what’s most ‘real’ to me; choices of visual subtexts (those ‘1000 words’ that pictures speak), and just plain what’s important to me about crochet. A surprise fringe benefit is that as I page through the latest crochet magazine or book, I now also detect other points of view non-crocheting pro photographers take, either by default or by direction.

As a crochet designer who finds project photography challenging, the best thing I’ve done is to allow myself the time to take baby steps:

  • If all I do is keep the camera very still, I’m already ahead. It can singlehandedly produce a great raw photo for isolating key details later at the editing stage. Sounds obvious, but it’s a special skill to do this for certain kinds of shots. Surprisingly, it has also taken me a long time to recognize when a photo is subtly out of focus.
  • I block everything, even jewelry. Otherwise the camera will blab loudly to everyone that I didn’t, and I’ll have to retake the photo {shudder}.
  • Having at least one mannequin is fabulous, mainly because using live models for any kind of crochet photography is overwhelmingly complicated for me. Photographing crochet on/with live models require a whole different skill set. I’m going easy on myself and still learning so much with still photography. Another surprise for me has been the strong opinions I hear FOR or AGAINST crochet or knit designs photographed on live models!
  • I refuse to obsess about perfect light. There’s no way I’m getting up at dawn to photograph anything! No way am I delaying a new pattern release just because a tropical storm is brewing! However, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I wonder if this is a luxury I have in Florida, where I usually deal with too much light. The more photos I take of crochet, the less light I need, especially when my priority is to emphasize a stitch texture, or the intricate interaction between fiber type, yarn construction, stitch pattern and drape. I can add light during photo editing, but taking away too much light is trickier.
    • As a result, I avoid buying specialized paraphernalia that clutters up my house or makes it feel too much like a photographer’s studio. I often just put up a low three-fold cardboard screen to mute the Florida sun. Having a range of simple light modifying tools and backgrounds at hand, such as folding foam-core boards, frees me from waiting for only one ideal hour of indirect sunlight or a weather-perfect day.
  • Photoshop will just have to wait its turn. Until more non-photographers’ faces relax when they talk about using Photoshop, I’m making the most of iPhoto and supplementing with iWatermark and whatever the current incarnation of the online Picnik is – and enjoying myself while mastering the basics.
  • I learn a new setting on my camera when I’m good ‘n’ ready. My favorite option so far is the macro setting (on my Canon it looks like a flower symbol). It’s especially great for any beaded crochet, fancy stitches, and step outs (tutorials). I practiced for months with different close up ranges to recognize the macro ‘sweet spot.’ I wish I’d taken a few macro pics of the beaded seam of Tunisian Petals (see my blog link below about this)
  • I turn a crochet photo session into a relaxing event. I do a batch at a time. I often jot down a specific shot I need for a pattern or blog post, because I don’t always remember by the time it’s ‘photo shoot day.’ Depending on the time of day, I may turn up the music, pour a glass of wine, and relax into the job. Or in the morning I may get all sporty and aerobic about it, especially if I’m cleaning up the room reaching to get artsy angled shots, changing backgrounds, moving mannequins around etc. I might chat on the phone, or listen to my husband’s TV show. I avoid a lot of caffeine, though, for a steadier hand.

Helpful Links for Crochet Photography Newbies:


3. Submissions Guidelines for Crochet Pattern Magazines:

Submissions Guidelines for Pattern Book Publishers:


4. Recommended Miscellaneous Resources for New/Aspiring Professional Crochet Designers:

Note: even though some of these links offer advice about expired calls for proposals, the information is still relevant for future calls.

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From the Archives: Issue #1 “Inaugural Crochet Newsletter” 9/2/2010

New Crochet Talk

You’re reading the very first issue of a bi-weekly crochet newsletter because you subscribed to it sight unseen, and for that I feel honored. I don’t want to clog up anyone’s inbox. I do have a lot to share about the crochet that I make, think about, test, teach, and talk about with other designers.  I’ll keep it to something brief here, put extended material on my blog, and article-length stuff can go on my website (or to magazine editors).

My crochet mojo doesn’t fit neatly into a pattern, and lends itself to being free of charge. I suspect that a newsletter is the best medium for these inspirations. A subscription-based newsletter is kind of intimate, like a club, more so than a blog or open forum. I’m hoping that together we’ll enjoy looking more closely at the crochet we love and which brightens our days.

I’m told that an email newsletter is for selling stuff, but if I used this newsletter for that, you and I would both grow bored. Of course I wish the best for the crochet patterns at my website–each one is like a child with its own destiny–and when there is news about them, I’ll report it in a news section of the newsletter.

I’ve fantasized about having a newsletter that tracks what’s happening in crochet everywhere. We’re members of an exciting global crochet community (thanks to the internet). So, the news section will also contain newsy hookalicious items that happen to come my way.

A Little Inspiration: Crocheted Buttons for Jewelry

This first newsletter issue is mostly a test to see that it works as it should and to let you know what I have in mind for future issues. I’ll wrap up this one with what has been inspiring me the past 3 days. (I can test how the images upload and appear while I’m at it.)

When crocheting jewelry, if I crochet the clasp instead of sewing on a button or snaps, or attaching traditional metal jewelry clasps, I enjoy it more, finish faster, and wear it immediately. Crocheted clasps also have the virtue of being metal-free for my friends who are allergic to some metals.

This week I worked out two “buttons” that I’m really happy about, partly because neither causes a crochet pattern’s skill level to suddenly go from Easy to Intermediate*, and partly because they have a distinctive look.

One is like a wavy donut. I like the look of the waves, and the texture adds to the clasp’s grip. This one’s in size #20 thread (see abbreviations below):

Wavy Donut Button

Ch 9, sl st in the 6th ch from the hook to make a ring, 12 sc in ring, sl st in top of 1st sc to join, [sl st, ch 1] 11 times into ring (you are crocheting around the sc completely), sl st once more, sl st in same 6th ch of the ch-9 as the first sl st, sl st in each of next 2 ch to firm up the button’s post.

The other looks sort of like a plump star. I worked it in sock yarn, so it might not seem super-starry in photos:

Plump Star Button

Ch 5, [hdc, ch 1] 6 times in 2nd ch from hook, turn, sc in each hdc (skipping each sl st), sl st side of first sc, sl st in ch at base of button, sl st in each remaining ch to firm up the button’s post.(Some of the stitches are tight, which helps a button hold up well over time.)

Abbrev’s: ch=chain, hdc=half double crochet, sc=single crochet, sl st=slip stitch.

*For a long time I crocheted clones knots as buttons. When I started writing up the patterns, the tech editor instantly changed the skill level from “Easy” to “Intermediate” because of the clones knot. Also, I had to explain the unusual stitch from scratch each time.


Below was originally the righthand column of the newsletter:

Button Experiments for Jewelry (tiny patterns at left)

I hope you can make out here the zigzaggy surface of the Wavy Donut (green size #20 thread), and the star-like points that the hdc stitches make in the teal Plump Star button (sock yarn). (It’ll be available at the link below so that you can enlarge it.)

The two purple lumps in the photo are beaded puff stitches. I made these a few years ago. The advantage of adding beads to a clasp button is that they add extra friction, which helps the clasp stay clasped. Over time and with even just a little wear, however, the beads loosen and the button is less cute.

The teal button is part of an “Aran Rozsana Cuff” pattern that I’m writing now. You can see project photos here: (this special link will work even if you’re not a Ravelry member.)

Newsy Items Go Here!

For example, I’m still daydreaming about a blog entry I read the other day about Tambour embroidery, an early form of crochet. This link takes you to exciting haute couture images, plus a photo tutorial of how it’s done.
::crossing fingers that these links are clickable for you::

That’s it for issue #1, first published September 2, 2010.

If you’d like to subscribe, <– just click it to go to a simple subscribe form. To see this newsletter issue in its original 2-columned and tastefully tinted format, click this. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me: vashtibraha AT Thanks!      —Vashti