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Essential Tools for Knitting Pattern Designers

I'm a fan of working smarter not harder! That means batching my social media, editing my photos in a consistent manner, and making sure my patterns always look professional. Here are the mostly FREE tools that I use (there are many out there, but these will get you started). I will eventually do posts on these tools to dive more in depth, but feel free to let me know in the comment section what you want me to write about first! This post does contain a couple referral links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Writing up your patterns:

  • Stitchmastery - Charting software. One-time fee, super customizable, but has a bit of a learning curve. They have fantastic customer service! The catch is that this is only available on Windows/Apple devices — I recently bought a Google Chromebook, so I had to find alternative software.

  • Stitch Fiddle - I just started using Stitch Fiddle because of my issues with my Chromebook. There is both a free and a premium version. The premium version has a low monthly fee (it’s 3 euros if you pay month-to-month, or 1.50 euros if you pay for an entire year). I love it! It seems to have everything I want from charting software! I highly recommend checking it out.

  • Google Sheets - Free software with a Google account. Quickly create stitch counts and record your math in one location. I have an individual Google Sheet dedicated to each pattern so I can easily find all my notes if I have questions later.

  • Inkscape - Free design tool. Many designers use Inkscape for schematics. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once this is tackled, it creates beautiful schematics.

  • Google Slides - Free software with a Google account. For simple shapes, this is an easy way to make schematics/graphics for a pattern. I use Google Slides for almost all of my shawl schematics.

Publishing your Patterns:

  • Ravelry - All my patterns are sold on Ravelry, and I’m slowly beginning the transition to have patterns available on my website as well. If you are new to Ravelry and design go search through the forums — there are some great forums for new designers! They charge a 3.5% fee if you sell more than $30 worth of patterns a month (I’ll make a blog post in the next month or so about how designers make money, and the fees that we pay!). One of the best parts about Raverly is if you make a pattern update, it automatically sends it out to your customers (Etsy doesn't have this feature). Where do you publish your patterns?

Make those patterns pretty!

  • Canva - Free design software. If you have zero graphic design skills (like me!), Canva is the way to make your products look professional (both patterns and advertising). The free version works great, but I’ve found the paid version to be extremely valuable as you grow. The paid version is $12.95/month when paid monthly or $9.95/ month when paid annually.

Photo Editing

  • Snapseed - Free photo editor (app for your smartphone). Snapseed is the easiest to use photo editor I've found. It's great for editing Instagram posts, you can save settings so all you have to do is upload a photo and with a couple clicks all your Instagram posts have the same "feel".

  • Lightroom - Free photo editor (if you use the app for your smartphone). An alternative to Snapseed, you can download presets for Lightroom that will allow your photos to look cohesive with just a couple clicks.

Social Media Scheduling

  • Later - Free social media scheduler. I schedule all my Instagram posts via Later, you can schedule 30 posts a month for free. The software allows you to auto-post your posts, so you can set it and forget it! The paid plan allows you to schedule Instagram stories, videos, and has excellent analytics tools. If you click on this link, you can sign up and get an additional 10 free posts.

  • Tailwind - Paid social media scheduler. This software allows you to schedule to both Instagram posts and Pinterest pins. You get your first 100 pins for free. The true value with this scheduler lies in Tailwind tribes -- social groups where you can essentially "swap" pins with others -- most tribes have a rule that for every pin you post to the tribe, you have to pick a pin from the tribe to repin to your account. This gets your content seen fast and by the masses! Get a free month of Tailwind by clicking here.

Project/System Management

  • Trello - Free project management software. It gives you the ability to organizes your projects into visual boards -- in one quick glance you can see what is being worked on, who is working on it, and where something is in the process. I love to use Trello to keep track of where I am in the design process for each pattern I create, and I have board dedicated to all my business details (tax information, links to all my social media, brand colors, etc.).

E-mail Service Provider

  • Mailchimp - Free e-mail marketing software for up to 2000 subscribers with analytic capability. Mailchimp allows you to segment/tag your list, and has a couple automation options (you can easily set up one welcome e-mail and a birthday e-mail). Mailchimp also offers landing pages and limited website creating capabilities. The paid version is great if you have a large subscriber list or want more automations. ()

  • Flodesk - The most affordable and easy to use e-mail marketing software I've found, there is no limit on the number of subscribers on your list, you can have unlimited automations, landing pages, and the templates are GORGEOUS! I highly recommend this software (get it for 50% off or $19/month here).

Payment Processing

  • Square - I use Square when selling physical patterns at fiber festivals. At the time I established my account, it had the lowest fees and was the easiest/quickest physical payment processor to set up. Square's standard processing fee is 2.6% + 10¢ for contactless payments, swiped or inserted chip cards, and swiped magstripe cards. Payments that are manually keyed-in, processed using Card on File, or manually entered using Virtual Terminal have a 3.5% + 15¢ fee.

  • Paypal - Ravelry requires you to have a Paypal account. If you are selling just patterns, I recommend setting your account up to accept micropayments. With PayPal Micropayments you'll pay 5 percent plus 5 cents per transaction (for U.S. accounts) versus 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction at the usual PayPal rate.

Website/E-mail Provider

  • Squarespace - Squarespace is just one of many website builders that exist. I like that Squarespace is (mostly) intuitive and is preloaded with integrations, although it has limited customization options. A custom domain is about $20 but is free for your first year. Other popular options include Wix and Wordpress.

  • GSuite - GSuite is Google's attempt to streamline your business. It gives you access to a custom e-mail address and a bunch of productivity and collaboration tools. I mostly use it as my e-mail provider. The basic option at $6/month works great for my purposes. To get 20% off your first year you can use the following codes (for the basic plan use “H6VEJVF7DVHX7DG” and for the business plan you can use “P6NUEU793JXXRU7”).

That’s it! So what do you think? I’ll add more tools as I find them or become aware of them. Were any of these tools new to you? Do you know of better tools I could be using?


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