When looking at a crochet pattern, there are times when you love the pattern, but maybe wish it was done in your favourite colour. Or you're making a gift for a very tall family member, but the afghan pattern you're looking at is lap sized. One of the greatest things about crochet is that there are boundless possibilities for creativity and adaptation. Before you go changing things up willy-nilly though, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
Make sure you know how to read crochet patterns
The first step to adapting crochet patterns is to know how to read (and write) the patterns in the first place. Once you become familiar with how patterns are written, you'll start to notice common features and the required number of stitches for certain motifs. This will make it easier for you to create your own adaptations.
Write down your ideas
As with any new project, taking notes can be a helpful way to organise your thoughts. If you're thinking about adapting a pattern to fit a different season, style or size, be sure to write down what you have in mind. Take measurements where appropriate and make sure that you write those down as well.
Make it Your Own
Change the Color
The easiest way to adapt a crochet pattern is by changing the colour of the yarn you're using. The hook size, yarn type and pattern all stay the same, you're just using the colours that suit your preferences. A word of caution when changing colour; bold colours can look aggressive and drab colours can look oppressive when used in large quantities.
Sometimes a bold colour that you'd love to use in a particular project would make an excellent accent or border, but would be overwhelming as a primary yarn. At the same time, muted colours without an accent can make a piece look plain and boring. When changing the colour, be sure to consider how the quantity of colour might look in the overall finished piece.
Change the Size
Another way to change a pattern is to change the size. The easiest way to do this is by changing the hook size and yarn weight. This will create a piece that has dimensions that are larger overall. A second way to change the size of your work is to use stitches that are "the next size up". This means in place of every single crochet, you will double crochet; in place of every double crochet, you will triple crochet; and so on. If you use this method, you will need to remember to increase the height of your turning chains and pay attention to the length of any chained spaces in your work. This method will increase the height of your project, but not the width.
If you want to increase the height and width of your project, you can add stitches to each row. You will want to make notes about how many stitches will be required, especially if your pattern has a motif with a repeating set of stitches so that you don't end your row in the middle of a set. You can then add however many rows will be required to keep the dimensions of the overall project the same. So, for example, if the original size of a blanket should be 5 feet wide by 6 feet long, and you want to make it 6 feet wide, you'll need to do the maths to figure out how long it should be at the end. Alternatively, you may just keep crocheting until the length "feels right" to you.
Change the Yarn
With the great availability of yarns today, changing the yarn can be a fun way to adapt a crochet pattern. You can use yarns that are larger or smaller, you can change yarn materials, blend two colours or yarn types together, or even use nontraditional yarns such as rope or recycled plastic. All of these changes can give your finished piece a truly unique look. When changing yarn, you may also need to change your hook size and this will change the overall size of the finished piece.