Cro’Chet’ Happens


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“Gosh darnit, this pattern isn’t working for me, what is going on? I’ve read the directions 10 times already! Now I am reading word for word going as slow as I can and it still looks warped!

That’s it, love the pattern but obviously the pattern is too hard for me! Time to feed the scrap bin monster and chuck the pattern into the recycle bin!”

Has this happened to you, you are following a pattern and suddenly you are confused, bewildered and questioning your own reading reading skills? It may not be you, it just may be the pattern!

Finding mistakes in patterns are very common. I have made a lot of mistakes in my own pattern and I certainly have stumbled across my fair share of mistakes in other people’s patterns. If I am adamant that I am right that the pattern is wrong, I will reach out to the designer or publisher, if that is possible. I type in or paste and copy the pattern in the communications and highlight where I think the pattern is going wrong. I then give a list of reasons why I feel that way. I would say 99% I am right.

In one pattern last year, I discovered an error in the Ringtoss Afghan. I had invested 15 hard long days into the pattern and I usually crochet like an assembly line. When I went to start the final row around the Rings, I just wasn’t getting it. The math and look wasn’t coming out right. I tried and tried and tried. I had done the complete afghan and the final row was kicking my butt! Upon further research, there was indeed an error and I wasn’t the only person to find this mistake.

I think a lot of the mistakes happens when we try to get crochet into the standard language pattern format. The Yarn Craft Council has standards and most large companies and reputable designers are following. The standards make for patterns to be simplified in language but sometimes, in my opinion, a pattern is too simplified. Maybe the designer has some tips, thoughts or suggestions that are omitted because it’s not a standard. Maybe an editor felt the tips, ideas or suggestions were not important enough. I have seen, in some cases, where the pattern is simplified so much to fit into a magazine that sections, by accident, are omitted to comply with page space.

Cro’Chet’ Happens

I see all too often our community frogging or tossing partial work out the window when a pattern is a mess. If I love the pattern well enough, I fake it. I break down the pattern and examine the photograph provided.

  1. To get the look in the photograph, what do I need to do at this row to achieve it?
  2. Will my alteration be okay for the remainder of the project?

Many times, my alteration may not be what the designer wanted me to do. I have done my best to follow the pattern but now it’s up to me to get myself past the point where I am stuck. Designers and publishers may not be available or help you, this is where “Crocheters Choice” comes in handy.

As Kristen at GoodKnit Kisses says, “I can fake it to make it!”

In the end, you could be like me at times. You are stuck and then you think… hmmm this pattern isn’t worth burning my brain cells over. Frog the project, chuck the pattern and look for something new. Nothing wrong with that!

So if you need permission to Fake It to Make It, here it is! I, Mikey, give you permission to fake it to get yourself through a row or round you may be struggling on. If you find yourself struggling on the next row and then the next row. Abandoned the hook and treat yourself to a Happy Meal at McDonalds!

If I died tomorrow, my message to crocheters world wide is this… “You are the Crochet Artist within yourself. Sometimes Cro’Chet’ Happens! Give yourself the permission to adjust the pattern to work for you. If possible communicate with the artist or publisher to your findings so that future crocheters can benefit from the fixing of errors that you have discovered.”

Leave me your comments below if this has happened to you. What have you done about it. Do you fake it or toss it?

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About Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Mikey, owner of The Crochet Crowd Blog. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet. I am from Ontario Canada and teach how to crochet online through YouTube Video Tutorials. From a simple idea and being at the right place and time in my life back in 2008, the concept of The Crochet Crowd was developed. I'm here to hook and share. Come follow my crochet journey and share yours with comments here and you are most welcome to share your creativity within our Facebook page.
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32 Responses to Cro’Chet’ Happens

  1. My family and friends are really keeping me busy I have three projects going on right now which helps me from getting bored with one thing. My niece called yesterday and asked me if I would make a baby blanket for her of course I said yes . Then she asked me how much I wanted her to pay and I said nothing trying to get rid of all this yarn I have collected or left over from projects. I’m doing the Catherines wheel I LOVE THIS STITCH!

  2. Laura Halpen says:

    Mikie: This was very timely. I have a beautiful pineapple shawl pattern from Universal Yarns. I was very confused after it told me to start repeats at round 10 and then reminded me that increases start with round 8. Taking your advice I spent a lot of time looking a the photo and I think I’ve got it. When done, I’ll post it to the Facebook page. Happy hooking.

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  4. Doris C says:

    I can have difficulties reading some patterns and others look like they just light up on the page, just seem to click! I will change something if I know it won’t affect other rows or the outcome. Last time I had a problem, I checked the pattern several times then turned to the photo that came with the kit. Was no use! The photo was different! Had a different edge than the one I was working on! I went over it many many times to check and yup! different last few rows!! Eventually figured it out though. I have had a few things I have just given up on.. I started out just seeing something and copying.. Getting the hang of patterns as the years go on.

  5. Sue B says:

    I’m another lefthanded crocheter. Recently I crocheted a seamless sweater. Everything went fine till I hit the yoke. First try resulted in a ruffling I didn’t like. I frogged it several time trying several variations on the instructions. Never got rid of the ruffling totally, but finally got rid of enough to satify myself. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Finally I examined the photo with the pattern closely. It was ruffled too. Not my problem at all. One never knows. But as long as I’m happy with what I do, that is all that matters.

  6. Laura says:

    I never think the pattern is the problem since I can get messed up following along with Mikey’s videos. When I see a beautiful project I read the pattern a couple of times to see if it would even be worth trying. If it looks difficult it is difficult so I look to see if Mikey has anything similar. Don’t know what I would do without him since I have taken up crochet again and really enjoy it. Maybe after several more years of experience I can weigh in and blame the pattern 🙂

    • Alma MacLean says:

      Thanks for that information Mikey. When I find an error in a pattern I used to figure that I just wasn’t understanding what the author intended and would go ahead and do it “my way”. With the Juicy Fruits pattern I started by doing a small swatch to make sure I could handle the pattern. The edges were not coming out straight so I did it “my way” and I am happily proceeding with my afghan.

  7. Sandy says:

    that is why i like patterns that have charts as well as written directions, less chance of error. after learning to read charts (thax! Mikey), i see what i am doing wrong. since i crochet left handed, i print out the charts in reverse to make it easier for me to visualize.

  8. Gerri says:

    Thanks for this article Mikey! Great advice! I’ve been crocheting for over 30 years. It took me a long time to get to the point you are talking about. To just trust myself and my knowlege to get me through to the end of a difficult project or pattern. I make adjustments in patterns all the time now…if I’m not liking the way something looks or I like part of a pattern but not the whole thing…I will improvise. I’m glad you wrote about this because, especially for beginner or novice crocheters, I think it’s intimidating to just “wing” it. But when someone gives you permission, and you see all the comments by these wonderful crocheters who do the same thing…it gives you confidence that you can do it. To anyone who is timid about doing this I say…go for it and innovate! What’s the worst that can happen? You will frog something you would have frogged anyway. If you try and it doesn’t work then at least you know next time what won’t work. It’s all of form of practicing the craft 🙂

  9. Meg says:

    I am really glad you wrote about this, Mikey. I don’t use patterns much anymore but if I do and something isn’t working I do pretty much what you’ve described here. What worries me is that a new crocheter might think the mistake was theirs and get frustrated or worse, discouraged enough to quit. You bring up good points about how things can go wrong with published patterns (I suspect you know more about that than many of us) and I hope those will help people understand what went wrong and encourage them to take the initiative to make things right.

  10. Jan says:

    Know what you mean. The other night I started a project about an hour before going to bed. It wasn’t working out right so I just put it down. I couldn’t go to sleep cause I was trying to figure it out in my mind. So I got up, frogged it and started over at 1:00 in the morning. Then I went to bed and slept like a baby.

  11. I just love the way you Canadians can turn a phrase Cro’Chet’ Happens is my new favorite. I had never heard of frogging (I have done a lot of it) just didn’t know what to call it. I love your posts and the snake story was just too funny.

  12. Annie Couture says:

    This just happened to me this morning! I am working on an afghan and the directions repeated themselves twice in one row. I read it and re read it and thought “the pattern can’t be wrong, they know what they are doing” but it didn’t make sense. I am going forward to doing what I think is correct on this one!

  13. Tinochka says:

    This has happened to me on many occasions. I have, a few times, abandoned a project because it took more brain cells to figure out what the designer intended than I really wanted to expend. Most times I just “wing it”, I work out how I think it should look and move on from there. This is one of the reasons I love testing patterns for designers. Every single tester can add a little extra, or find one little mistake that can make or break a pattern. Plus then I get the added benefit of new patterns!

  14. Robin Comfort says:

    I have to say that I have also run across a pattern (or two…) that I took out and re-did several rows until I got it. Almost always my difficulties are with a ripple pattern. My advice is to try to figure it out, and if it is no longer fun…then salvage the yarn/fiber and move on. Crochet is supposed to be fun…I can go to work or drive on the highway to get aggravated! LOL! Hook On!

  15. I have a very hard time following patterns. I generally try out a pattern for several inches, in the case of an afghan for example, and see how it looks for real compared to the picture of the final afghan. Then I look to change the pattern while keeping the general look that appealed to me in the first place. A pattern, to me, is a guide to a design. I most always have to change it to make it ‘mine’! The chances of me having something identical to someone else is just wrong IN MY BOOK! So, I make changes to patterns to make them mine and because of this, I start the challenge projects but can’t finish them because I want to change something!! LOLOL Is there a name for this ailment? LOLOL

  16. Evelyn says:

    Great advice. Sometimes I get so involved in a pattern or design that I forget that I am the one who is making it . Also, I can’t tell you how many times I have left a project only to come back to it and completely get it.

  17. Denise Royal says:

    I recently had a question about a row in a pattern and contacted the designer and she told me something else that was not what I was talking about so I sent her the exact wordage in the pattern in the book. Seems the publisher decided to “translate” her pattern and that row was nothing like she wrote it. She sent what she had written originally and it made sense after that.

  18. Shellie Dunn says:

    Mikey,

    I have finally found a ‘like-minded’ crocheter! I tend to study the photograph and then take off on my own tangent. I call it being a “Crochet Technician.”

    I intend to use your ‘permission’ for future impossible patterns.

  19. Maureen says:

    Forgive me…my question is off topic but I have been wondering about the logo….what do the different color “i’s” symbolize?
    As for faking it to make it, I’m not a good enough crocheter (yet) to be able to puzzle stitches out by looking at the project photo and I’m not confident enough (yet) to make adjustments. I have gotten better about doing a sample swatch first though before investing in yarn for a project. This was a great post!

  20. Rosalie Wright says:

    When I was first learning the crocodile stitch I was so frustrated It took me three months to master if with lots of breaks in between. Now I am a pro at it. Persistence pays off. Once I contacted a pattern designer and asked a question and all they did was repeat the directions I had already from the pattern which still never made sense to me so I frogged it and went on to something else. I think some designers only understand theirselves sometimes it sounds good in their head but on paper does not translate. I keep files of patterns, ones Ive tried with notes on if why I gave up and files of favorites that I will definitely repeat later and then their is the wish list files and the what was I thinking files.

  21. I have had that happen a few times. For one pattern I tried differnt ways to make it work and failed, tried to find anything online and failed lol. I still have it and pull it out and try to figure it out, I’m sure one of these times it will just click.

  22. I made adjustments to the Motif Shawl. I didn’t like how the smaller motifs looked on the outer edges and literally removed them all (thankfully, I only had 3 done at that point) and redid them. Simply said, they were not symmetrical and threw off the entire pattern. I fixed it and it looked great. Symmetry is a big deal for me and my “mild” OCD. If it doesn’t align properly, I can’t be happy with it. So, if it’s not working for you gals (and guys), then take a bit of creative license and make it work for you. =)

  23. Joshua says:

    I have two or three projects that are in the “Bad boy” project bags. When I find an epic error that is so obviously never my fault, or I just can’t be bothered to frog back six rows of lace, it goes in the bad boy bag in Time out until it decides it’s sorry and wants to play again. I’ve only ever consigned one project to pattern hell and said a la Meet the Robinsons ” I will NEVER make you!”

  24. I’ve been crocheting for almost 50 years. I’m the one everyone around me comes to with questions and patterns they can’t figure out and I agree many patterns have a flaw in them. I have found that usually it’s a chain, a stitch or a group of stitches have just been totally left out. My self imposed rule is that I work thru the directions 3 times, and if I can’t figure it out, well then it is time for the “fake it to make it”. I usually have to put the whole thing away for awhile, because by the time I’ve made the 3 attempts I am so frustrated I can’t even figure out how to “fake it”!

  25. Betty Plemmons says:

    The most frustrated I ever was with a pattern was one that called for me to crochet a total of 237 dc rows (had chained 220). The pattern told me how many skeins of yarn I would need, and I soon ran out; had to go to store and buy more; ran out again, had to go buy MORE. I should have known then that something was wrong. I kid you not, after I’d spent HOURS working on this thing, the pattern publisher sent me an email (YES, this was a BOUGHT pattern), apologizing profusely saying she had made a typo mistake in the pattern, and only to do 37 dc rows… not 237!!! This was a couple of months ago… it’s still in a plastic bin upstairs waiting to be frogged… LOL No need to get angry… we all make mistakes.. 🙂

  26. I never like to toss it. I love the challenge of trying to figure out what the author of the pattern meant. So I press on. And as you say, “fake it to make it”. You spoke of standards in pattern writing. I was not aware. Is there a website where these are? Thank you.

  27. Connie Baker says:

    I have chucked projects and I have worked through difficult problems with a pattern. I have also become quite adept at “covering up” my own mistakes. Thank you for the permission, Mikey, because sometimes I do feel like I am missing something or not smart enough when I hit a problem.

  28. Linda says:

    I’m a relatively inexperienced crochet-er (been going it for several years, but have yet to make anything but throws), and am SO glad to read this!

  29. Amie says:

    It’s so funny to read this, as the pattern I am currently working from seems ‘wrong’ somehow. I followed the pattern exactly, used stitch markers and counted obsessively to make sure I did it right. It’s a small project and it’s finished. But, it looks funny, not like it should. I think I know what’s wrong (I noticed it early on-but figured I was wrong), so I am going to re-do it, fixing what I think is wrong and see how it comes out. *Fingers crossed*

  30. Valerie S says:

    I’ve done a few different things. I’ve frogged….I’m forever quoting Shakespeare “to frog or not to frog” lol. Some patterns are just too hard for me and I’ll frog it. Some patterns I can figure out from the picture (thanks to your many tutorials) and some I just wing it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can feel when a pattern is supposed to be crocheted by me..so if I’m ‘feeling’ it, then I will plug away until I figure it out.

  31. Helene Kay Yeager/Kamama says:

    When this happens to me I usually stick with it until I figure out the solution. Also, I try to go by the pattern the first time I make something but after that I do my own tweaks and adjustments. Rarely do I chuck a project but once in awhile I decide not to waste any more of my time and my yarn.

What do you think? Is Mikey bang on or out to lunch? Leave your thoughts here.

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