Let’s Modify Crochet Patterns!

By Caissa "Cami" McClinton – 20 Comments

Since I started teaching crafts and getting involved in the online community, I’ve noticed that some crafters are very hesitant to modify crochet patterns. There could be several reasons for this point of view. Perhaps this crocheter is afraid of doing it “wrong” or s/he is unsure of how the finished product’s look will change in a different color or yarn.

Some crocheters will relate to this and others will not. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the idea that crochet allows me to make design choices, even if they are as simple as choosing colors. I’d even go a bit further to say that I try not to do my projects so they look just like the picture. However, I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who do not craft that way, and choose to follow the pattern to the letter, including yarn colors and brands.

For instance, a crafter might see a beautiful sweater pattern that calls for a specific type and color of yarn, as is often seen in pattern books and magazines. If the yarn is not available in his or her area, or maybe if it is too expensive, he or she will feel unable to substitute a readily available yarn or something from his or her stash. Therefore, he or she will simply find another pattern and leave that beautiful sweater unmade.

Even if substituting yarns feels like no big deal, what about changing the length of something? What about adding a different trim? What about leaving out a design element? For whatever reason, some of us do not feel empowered to change a pattern or design, but we should.

The power of craft is largely the power to personalize. While the act of creating has its own benefits, the experience can be enriched by experimenting with different design elements and making a piece your own. So I hereby grant you permission to modify your crochet creations at will. If you see a crochet pattern you like, you should just go for it. If there is a design element that isn’t for you, you should change it. Above all, you should never hesitate to substitute yarn brand or color!

Make crochet choices that suit you, and enjoy every minute of creating a piece that is uniquely you. If you make a mistake, learn from it. That’s what life is all about anyway. Check out the Tips for Adjusting Crochet Patterns!

How do you prefer to craft? Do you like to match the picture, or do you tend to change patterns? Have you ever been hesitant to change a design element in a pattern? Why or why not?

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  1. Lane† says:

    It would be torture if I tried to match the picture perfectly!!! I love crocheting because I have the ability to CHANGE the pattern any way I want too! That’s where my creativity kicks in. Whenever I see a pattern that I really like- that I think it is much too costly- I’ll try and imitate it.

  2. Carrie says:

    If I didn’t make changes to patterns, nothing would ever be crocheted!! 😀

  3. aimymichelle says:

    honestly whenever i try to use a pattern it never works out for me i’m not quite sure why. but i always have to finangle it some other way to work and by then i’m doing something i’ve made up by myself with a picture for inspiration.

  4. Megan says:

    When I use a pattern, I inevitably end up changing it somewhere. Maybe it’s too small/big, this part’s lopsided, whatever. I canNOT keep to the pattern. Unless I’m knitting. Knitting is hard to mess around with.

  5. Miya says:

    I hardly ever crochet exactly what’s in the picture! Sometimes I don’t have the right hook or the proper weight yarn and sometimes, I just don’t like the color specified. That’s the beauty of crochet!

  6. Darlene says:

    I always get so mad when the designer does not give the yarn size so I can substitute the yarn I have on hand or the color I want.

  7. Natalie says:

    I don’t think I have every crocheted anything exactly like the pattern. I am always using different colors and brands of yarn. I also like to make a pattern in whatever color, to see how it turns out, and then I really enjoy playing with the pattern. I will use different stitches to create different patterns and textures, as well as changing the number of stitches to change the size. I really enjoy the freedom of crochet.

  8. Victoria says:

    I don’t think I’ve EVER followed a pattern to the letter, especially if that means using the same yarn… definitely have never used the same yarn.

  9. Robin says:

    I am totally opposite. I always try to follow the pattern to the letter because I want it to look exactly like the picture! Obviously this has caused me to give away some things because they don’t fit right :). I’m getting better with working outside the box, but it’s a work in progress.

  10. Nita Owenby says:

    Cheers to Gloria’s comment, and most of the other comments. I never follow a pattern. I am a doll collector and crochet many of their outfits. Many times, I will just pick out a color and size of yarn I like, get an appropriate needle and start crocheting. I look at the doll size and shape, then create something that will “flatter” the entire doll; from dresses, to pantaloons, skips, sleepers, shorts, hats and bonnets, there is no limit. When I finish, I have an original! I have fun! Using two different colors of yarn and creating stripes adds even more fun than just using solids.

  11. Caissa says:

    Looks like I’m mostly “preaching to the choir” here. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy crochet, so I’m glad that people love their work, whether they choose to modify or not. There is certainly nothing wrong with crocheting to look just like the picture, either, but I wanted people to know it’s okay to modify. (Apparently most of you got that memo!) 😉 There is no limit to what we can do with crochet! 🙂

  12. Bethintx1 says:

    Fudging patterns is my specialty!

    My latest item is made from a pattern for a crochet sea turtle rug. I used a larger hook & acrylic yarn. I eliminated the head tail & fins. I made a fantastic circular wheelchair lap blanket! It has no corners to drag on the ground or get caught up in the wheels!

    It is on my Ravelry Pattern page as Pink Tortoise shell lap blanket.

    I challenge everyone to take one design & fudge it to make something else!

  13. BekkaPoo says:

    I think if you want to come up with your own designs (which I certainly do) the best way to learn is by reworking existing patterns — especially ones with lots of mistakes in them!

  14. Susan says:

    I taught myself how to crochet a few years ago, I certainly made my share of mistakes. The joy of crocheting was the ability to correct those mistakes without a lot of fuss. I am also a knitter and have knitted for 50 plus years, following a pattern in knitting is essential for the most part however, I do tend to change things up a bit.
    I have found that there are really no set rules for following patterns in crochet and I always tend to change the pattern to suite myself. If it doesn’t work, (one usually can tell after a few rounds) it is easy to undo what you have done and start again. That is the beauty of crochet.
    I feel that it is essential to make a pattern your own, go ahead and mix it up and have fun.

  15. Marny CA says:

    Misteaks? We’re supposed to make mistakes? Nahhhh, don’t believe it.

    However, I am very familiar with all the frog stitches while doing many different types of needle crafts. 😉

  16. Becky says:

    I was taught to crochet by my great-aunt more years ago than I’ll admit, and she never used a printed pattern. I’m lucky that I can read and understand any pattern printed, but that means to me that I know where to make my changes .Somewhere-somehow in everything I make is a change. It might be as simple as different yarn or hook size or as unique as using the
    pattern for a different use. I love the freedom crochet gives me.

  17. I don’t think I have ever followed a pattern completely. I’ve definitely taken bits and pieces of patterns or used them to figure out gauge and created my own size and style. Most times I just create from a picture and figure out everything myself. I also do not EVER use the yarn suggested since it’s just that, a suggestion. I must say I love you your blog and come here often for inspiration!

  18. vona says:

    I was taught to crochet by my Grandmother and she could not read a pattern, show her the pic, and no problem, she did thread almost exclusively, so to me it was so hard. I knitted for years before I realized the same yarn I used for knitting could be used to make crochet patterns too. Now I use the thread also. The only time I make the same pattern more than once is because someone orders it. Changing something or seeing a pic and trying to make it is part of the fun in life.

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