A crochet pattern is like a recipe for a new dish you’d like to try. Sometimes, like great chefs, crochetiers get carried away. There are patterns that make use of fifteen-dollar skeins of yarn, or call for twenty-four Karat gold buttons. Maybe you have some yarn laying around waiting for a project. In any case, you have a pattern, but not the necessary ‘ingredients’. If you don’t want to have to take out a loan to make an afghan, or you want to make of use whatever’s lying around, you have to learn how to tweak the pattern just a little.
CHOOSING A DIFFERENT YARN
It’s important to understand gauge. This is the amount of stitches in one square inch of crocheted fabric. The gauge depends on the size needles that you use and the weight of the yarn. Often, patterns will have the gauge somewhere in their instructions. Knowing it will allow you to choose a different texture, color or a less expensive type of yarn as long as it makes the same size stitches.
This is why beginners should make swatches- sample squares made from different yarns. With a swatch, you can estimate the gauge of a certain yarn and needle combination.
GETTING SIZES RIGHT
Another problem with crochet patterns is clothing size. Everyone’s body is different and handmade clothes have to fit well in order to look good. Patterns usually come in small, medium or large, leaving little room for a fitted waist or broad shoulders.
Measure your body carefully before you begin your project. Determine which parts of the pattern will need to be modified then, rewrite the pattern accordingly.
ADDING & SUBTRACTING
Occasionally, you will have to enlarge or shrink a pattern by changing the number of stitches in the pattern, especially in sweater patterns. This is easier than it looks, even when the pattern has a knit-purl design in it.
In the case of a design or cabling, the instructions will usually say something like “multiple of eighteen stitches plus two”. Decide how much more you need and choose the multiple closest to that number, then add two.
CHANGING NEEDLE SIZES
Nerds are addicted to gadgets, athletes want the latest workout gear, and needle workers want the world’s most inclusive collection of crochet hooks. Nevertheless, even veteran crochetiers don’t have every needle size known to man. If you don’t have the right hook handy, you can still do the pattern.
If your hook is just one size off (a ‘G’ or an ‘I’ as opposed to an ‘H’) you should be fine. If your hook is significantly smaller, you will need a thinner yarn and probably a lot more stitches. If your hook is larger, you need a thick yarn and will finish your project faster.
Experiment with combinations of yarn and needles to see which sizes are comparable. With a good collection of swatches, you will be able to judge gauge- and really make a project your own.