Crocheting Without a Pattern

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that my great-grandmother could crochet anything without a pattern.  She didn’t even know how to decipher a pattern.  She would just look at something and know how to recreate it, or just create the pattern in her mind as she went along.

She crocheted a lot of doilies…


…and other decorative items like shoes…


…and tiny dresses.


I wish I had such talent.  I’ve been seeing a lot of things on Pinterest lately that I would love to try, but often the patterns are not included, not free, or in another language.  I’ve been trying to figure out how one can crochet something so complicated without a pattern, and I think I’m finding some starting points.

Basic Shapes

I once learned in an art class that the first thing you should do when you’re going to draw something is break down the basic shapes.  Lightly sketch the oval of the frog’s body, the rectangle of the log he’s sitting on, and the circles of his eyes.  Then fill out the rest.  I think the same idea can be applied to crochet.  Learn how to crochet flat shapes like circles and squares, as well as some 3-D shapes like a sphere and a cylinder.  Hat’s usually start with a half sphere for the crown and straighten out about half-way down.  Squares can be stitched together to make cubes.

Increasing and Decreasing

Increasing and decreasing your stitches is usually a very important part of a pattern.  To make as spherical shape, you have to increase a certain amount every row (the amount depends on whether you’re using single or double crochet).  To make a cylinder less boxy, and more body shaped, increasing and decreasing in the right areas will make a stuffed animal come to life.

Modifying Other Patterns

I’ve talking about slightly modifying patterns before, but sometimes you can borrow instructions from several different patterns to get the look you want.  For instance, if I wanted to add dragon scales to a hat for my adorable nephew, I don’t have to buy a pattern for that.  I can use a basic hat pattern I already have, and add scales from a pattern book of stuffed animals that I also already have.  I just need to make the scales bigger by increasing for a few more rows than the pattern shows.

Start With Something Easy

I’ve really only created hat patterns from scratch before.  I had been working from a basic free hat pattern, and realized I could turn it into a beret pretty easily by making my circle bigger and bigger until I decided to decrease the stitches and bring it back in.  Through some trial and error, I finally got my rows increasing and decreasing at the correct rate.  A beret hat was a good place for me to start working without a pattern, because I’m comfortable working in the round and making hats already, and the only thing I was really experimenting with was increasing my stitches.  If you start of trying to crochet a stuffed giraffe without a pattern, you will probably be disappointed.

What’s Next?

In my next post, how about I share that beret hat pattern for free? I just have to remember what I did, since I didn’t write my “pattern” down!


2 thoughts on “Crocheting Without a Pattern

  1. Pingback: Quilting vs. Piecing | Bobbles and Baubles

  2. Pingback: Tips for Crocheting and Blocking Doilies | Bobbles and Baubles

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