Lisa’s Crochet Photo Pattern Heart Afghan

Lisa Murchison Collins' Heart Afghan

Lisa Murchison Collins’ Heart Afghan

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My crochet photo pattern customer, Lisa Murchison Collins, designed this beautiful afghan, using my Heart crochet photo pattern (the link to the pattern is at the end of the post).

She put a lot of planning and work into the design and graciously agreed to share how she modified the pattern to create the different hearts. I show her design notes in italics and offer some commentary that I hope will help you recreate these hearts.

Note: This Heart is crocheted vertically. You can also use bobbins and  “carry the yarn” instead of using the “cut and tie” method to change colors since you are only working with four colors or less.


Creating the large heart involves doubling stitches and rows.

Creating the large heart involves doubling stitches and rows.

Creating the large heart is a matter of doubling the number of stitches and rows in the pattern. So for every stitch in the pattern, Lisa did two, and then worked that row a second time.

For example rows 1 and 1a (the duplicate row) were 120 stitches in C0; pattern row 2 was 30 in C0, 20 in C2, and 70 in C0; row 2a (the duplicate row) was 70, 20, 30, so that the color changes match up.

In other words, you reverse the pattern instructions in the duplicate row, going from the last color/stitch set to the first. In this way, all of the colors will line up. Lisa adds …

In addition, duplicating the row always results in starting the next new row on the opposite side from where you would normally start it. Instead, you start a new row on the side of the piece where you started the previous duplicate row.

This duplication process is illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Duplicating Rows_Heart_crpd

To summarize –

  • Duplicate each stitch in the pattern row.
  • Then crochet that row again (duplicate row) but reverse the order of the stitches in the pattern instructions.
  • Begin the next new row at the opposite side of the piece, where you began the preceding duplicate row.

You’ll have some ends to weave in, but this shouldn’t take much time. Or you can crochet a border around the finished piece and crochet over these ends as you go.


The solid heart requires only two colors.

The solid heart requires only two colors.

These and the outline hearts are regular size hearts (60 rows and 60 stitches) that don’t require any duplication because they aren’t enlarged.

The key to the hearts without shading is that C0 was always consistent with your pattern as written. For the solid ones I simply added all the inside stitch counts together.

In the pattern, C0 is the background color. The heart colors are the three shades of red – C1, C2, and C3. Start each row with the C0 stitches. Add up the heart-color stitch counts and crochet that number of stitches in another color to create the solid heart. Then change to C0 and finish the row.


The outline heart requires some planning.

The outline heart requires some planning.

In the Outline heart, the background color is C0; the outline color will be either C1 or C2 in the pattern instructions.

The outline ones were slightly more complicated but again, C0 is always as written (i.e., C0 is always the background color; use the number of stitches for C0 that the pattern calls for). Row 2 was as written as well. For row 3, I started C1 (i.e., the outline color) as normal but only used it until it overlaps the C1 from row 2 by one stitch; change back to C0 until there is one of the previous row’s C1 left; C1 until C0 is supposed to start; finish with C0 as written.

Thus the outline color of a given row always shares one stitch with the outline color from the previous row. … In some cases … I had to look ahead to the next row to calculate how many of the outline color would get me to that “overlap by one stitch” location.

To create the pattern-size outline heart:

  • Complete Rows 1 and 2 according to the pattern. Row 2 is the beginning of the heart outline.
  • Row 3 and succeeding rows always begin and end with C0, the background color. The heart outline unfolds between these two colors.
  • The color changes you have to be most concerned with are the ones that occur between the beginning and ending C0s. These are used to form the outline of the heart against the background color.

Figure 2 below illustrates how this is going to work.


For each row, count the number of stitches from the first heart stitch to the last heart stitch. The number of stitches you use to create the outline and interior background should be the same number of stitches between the beginning and ending C0 in the pattern instructions.

For example, in Pattern Row 3, there are 14 stitches devoted to the heart. In the outline row, there are also 14 stitches that form the heart. The bold C0/# in the Outline Rows is the background color inside the heart.

Two Ways to Make the Outline More Solid

Lisa’s Way

Because the image includes diagonal lines, Lisa made sure that –

“… the outline color of a given row always shares one stitch with the outline color from the previous row.” … It just looked better to me for the outline color to touch from one row to the next, rather than starting the stitch after. [The outline] just looks more connected in my opinion.”

For example, if an outline stitch on the next row begins a stitch before or after the outline stitch began on the previous row, then you copy the outline stitch from the previous row (the overlap) and then make the outline stitch the pattern calls for.

Another Way

Or you can follow the pattern as it is written, and …

  • Crochet the background (C0) stitches.
  • Change to the outline color after crocheting the last background stitch.
  • Crochet the first heart stitch which is your outline stitch.
  • Change back to the background color and crochet the interior heart stitches.
  • When you reach the last heart stitch before the background color begins, change to the outline color and crochet the last heart stitch.
  • Change back to the background color and crochet the C0 stitches to the end of the row.

If the outline looks “jagged,” you can use surface crochet to make the lines smoother. Here’s an article that explains how to do this.

Another version of Lisa's Heart afghan.

Another version of Lisa’s Heart afghan.

It’s going to take some planning to create these hearts, but it’s worth the effort when the end result will be an afghan as spectacular as Lisa’s. You can download my Heart crochet photo pattern HERE  to get started.

If you’ve never done a crochet photo pattern before, use my free Butterfly pattern to practice until you feel confident in tackling a pattern with more colors.

3 Ways Freeform Crochet Boosted My Crochet Confidence

Freeform crochet booth at the 2006 CGOA Conference

Freeform crochet booth at the 2006 CGOA Conference. The purple/blue piece in the center is my piece.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy for more information. Thanks for your support!

I first learned about freeform crochet back in the mid-2000s. I must have stumbled on it during an internet search because the exact details of how I discovered it elude me.

Freeform crochet combines a variety of colors, stitch patterns, and yarns to create a piece of fabric art. Except for a few guidelines, you are free to improvise and experiment as you build your fabric. In addition to creating abstract pieces of art, you can use freeform crochet to create and embellish functional pieces like bags (my favorite!), pillows, and garments.

Coat of Many Scrumbles, 2006 CGOA Conference

Coat of Many Scrumbles, 2006 CGOA Conference

Needless to say, I was mesmerized by the incredible art created by such freeform masters as Prudence Mapstone, Myra Wood , and Margaret Hubert, all of whom I met at the 2006 Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) conference where we manned the freeform crochet booth.

After returning home, I applied myself diligently to learning this technique and even entered pieces in two of the International Freeform Fiberarts Guild’s online exhibits. Pretty soon, I discovered I had become a much more confident crocheter.

3 – Freeform Crochet Took the Fear Out of Experimentation

Freeform crochet tote I made a CGOA Regional Conference

Freeform crochet tote I made a CGOA Regional Conference

Because there are no hard and fast rules in freeform crochet, it requires a healthy dose of experimentation and improvisation. In order to do this, I had to put a muzzle on my inner crochet critic because there were times when I didn’t like what I had created. But instead of beating myself up about how awful a piece looked, I searched for ways to do it differently to get the effect I wanted.

I also had to let go of my expectations of how the piece was going to turn out. I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted to create, but it almost never turned out that way. I learned to let that be okay. In fact, I was often surprised and pleased at the unexpected end result of many projects.

Experimentation and improvisation, letting go of expectations, and freeing myself from that nasty inner critic have given me the confidence to start designing my own patterns.

2 – Freeform Crochet Increased My Crochet Knowledge and Skills Bank

A birthday gift for my daughter

A birthday gift for my daughter

Freeform crochet encouraged me to draw on everything I knew about crochet to figure out how to combine different colors, shapes, and textures into a pleasing whole. But I didn’t know as much as I needed to know and had to learn new skills to complete some projects.

Of course, you can’t be expected to know all of the stitches that can be used in freeform crochet, so I came to appreciate how essential stitch dictionaries are, no matter what kind of crocheting I’m doing.

Now, if there’s something new I need to learn to complete any crochet project, I’m confident I’ll be able to, not to mention the boost in confidence knowing more gives me.

1 – Freefrom Crochet Taught Me There’s More Than One Way to Do Stuff


My entry in the 2009 International Freeform Fiberarts Guild online exhibit

My entry in the 2009 International Freeform Fiberarts Guild online exhibit

In freeform crochet, you use whatever skills and techniques are available to you that will result in the effect you want to achieve. It’s the most freeing aspect of this fiber art for me. I can basically do whatever I want because if my experiment fails, I’ll find another way to do it.

Now, if pattern instructions tell me, for example, to start a round piece with “Chain 4, slip stitch to the first chain” to begin the round, I usually ignore it and start with a  magic circle. I’m not afraid to change a pattern if I know of a better way of doing something. And I now have no problems altering patterns to fit my personal tastes.

Add Freeform Crochet to Your Crochet Skills Bank

I highly recommend freeform crochet as a fun way to become a more confident crocheter and create beautiful fiber art in the process.

Craftsy has an excellent freeform crochet class that I’ve taken and benefitted from. It’s taught by renowned fiber artist, Myra Wood. To find out more, click HERE.

A Belated Happy New Year from Yarn Over Pull Through

Image via Flickr by Mansson's photography

Image via Flickr by Mansson’s photography

First off, let me apologize for taking so long to publish a blog post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction I want this blog to go in over the past couple of months. And quite frankly, I’ve been a little burned out.

Then the holidays started closing in and that meant focusing on crocheting Christmas gifts. Finally, the New Year began with a Mercury Retrograde (MR), so I gave myself a few more weeks to reflect, review, and reconsider.

But I am back on track and want to be ready to go full steam ahead when the MR ends (January 25th). Here are some things I want to accomplish in 2016:

A Better Defined Target Audience

My goal will be to focus on advanced beginners who want to take their crochet to the next level. But I’ll also keep beginners in mind to help them improve their skills.

A New Blog Theme

I’ve had the current one for several years now, and the blog really needs a new look and a lot more functionality. So stay tuned.

A Newsletter

Yes, I am finally realizing that I need some kind of newsletter for folk to subscribe to so they can keep up to date with what’s going on. I haven’t quite decided what to include, but rest assured it will contain lots of cool, informative, and useful crochet stuff. And it will be once a month to start.

More Consistent Publishing

My goal is to publish two “meaty” blog posts per month and perhaps two additional, shorter posts.


I’ve also concluded that I need to create some videos to make my crochet photo patterns a little easier to understand and execute. And perhaps I’ll do more on other topics, depending on what folks are interested in.

Online Courses

I’d like to consolidate all of my crochet photo pattern information into some kind of online training. This is a long-term effort; it will take a while to develop the courses. But I’ll do my best to keep you updated on their progress.

I need to stop here before I overdo it. I want to be able to accomplish these goals in 2016, so I better not bite off more than I can chew.

If there’s anything you’d like to see me on the blog in 2016, please let me know in the comment section below.

I’ve Caught the Zentangle Bug!


This post contains affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy for more information. Thanks for your support!

From time to time, we all need to take a break from crocheting, if only to rest our hands. But sometimes, those breaks can turn into a new passion. Don’t worry, I’m still crocheting, but I’ve also caught the zentangle bug and can’t seem to shake it. Fortunately, it’s the kind of bug I don’t mind catching.

Art and Therapy Rolled into One Creative Practice


The great thing about zentangles is that you don’t need to be an artist to produce decent looking art. I’m certainly not, but I think I’ve produced some nice pieces, if I must say so myself (I created all of the pieces in this article.).

The term, zentangle, was coined by calligrapher, Maria Thomas. and former Buddhist monk , Rick Roberts, to describe a technique that involves drawing “structured patterns” called tangles and combining them to create an abstract piece of art. The images are drawn on 3.5” x 3.5” “tiles” which allow them to be completed in a relatively short period of time.

Drawing zentangles has therapeutic as well as artistic value. It –

  • Is Relaxing
  • Generates a state of focus and mindfulness
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Builds self esteem
  • Improves fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination
  • Enhances the ability to concentrate.

“Tangling” has even been used successfully in addiction and anger management therapy.

Zentangle Tools


Another great thing about creating zentangle art is that you don’t need a lot of tools to create your artwork. Paper or tiles to draw on, a set of pens, and a pencil are all you need to get started. I’ve included a few more tools in the list below, as well as some books and websites that will help you learn to tangle.

Ink pens – I’m using Sakura Micron pens which I purchased in a six-pen set. Each pen has a different size “nib” or tip, from fine (.20 mm) to thick (.50 mm). You’ll probably start off like I did using one tip size, .25 mm. As you become more skilled, you can use other tip sizes to create specific effects.

I also use a fine-point Sharpie for filling in large spaces with black ink. But be careful because they tend to bleed through the paper. A stiff piece of cardboard under your paper or tile will keep the ink from soiling your working surface.

Tiles/Sketchbook – The official Zentangle Method uses 3.5” square tiles made of acid-free paper. The small tiles enable you to create a piece fairly quickly and keep you from being overwhelmed.

Since I already had an artist’s sketchbook that had been sitting in my bookcase for years, I decided to use that and simply create a 3.5” square outline on the page in which to draw my tangles.

If you go the sketchbook route, make sure you choose one that contains good quality, mixed media paper. This ensures that the ink in your pens won’t bleed through. I purchased a 5” x 7” sketchbook that I’ll start using when I use up the paper in the one I already have.


Pencil – Any #2 pencil will do. The pencil is used to add shading to your tangles.

Blender stumpsBlender stumps are pencil-like tools that are used for blending and smoothing out your pencil shading.

Zentangle Books – I like to learn new stuff from books, so I have a few to recommend if that’s your learning style too.

  • One Zentangle a Day  – I like this book because it moves you slowly through the process of learning the tangle patterns. You learn a few patterns at a time, as well as how to combine them to create eye-catching designs.
  • Joy of Zentangle – This is another book that will teach you to tangle in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. It includes 101 tangle patterns to choose from to create your art.
  • 3D Shading Fearlessly – Artist Eni Oken has produced a fabulous book on zentangle shading that you’ll definitely want to add to your collection. It comes as a soft cover book, or you can purchase the eBook.

Pinterest – As you might have guessed, there is a boat load of zentangle information, tutorials, and images on Pinterest. I’ve created a board where I collect images that inspire me, as well as instructions called “step outs” that illustrate how to create the tangles step-by-step.


YouTube – My second favorite way to learn to draw tangles is watching it done on YouTube. If I’m having problems understanding the step out, I’ll go to YouTube to see how it’s done. A simple “how to draw (name of tangle)” Google search is all you need to find some great videos.

To learn more about the Zentangle Method from its creators, check out Maria and Robert’s website . You’ll also find their Zentangle Kit which has all of the tools and instructions you need to get started.

Finally, there are lots and lots of websites and YouTube channels created by Certified Zentangle Trainers and artists where you’ll find even more information and instructions.

But What About Crochet?

Get Squared

Start of a Get Squared Shrug

Never fear! There is no way I’ll ever stop crocheting. To prove it, I’ve included a photo of a Get Squared® shrug I’m making for a cute little girl. I’ll have more to say about it in a future post. And I bet I can find a way to combine zentangles and crochet, so stay tuned.

Frame Your Crochet Photo Pattern Piece in 7 Easy Steps

Lynette and I framed this piece together.

Lynette and I framed this piece together.

Now that your crochet photo pattern masterpiece is finished and has a border, it’s time to frame it. I’ve added another article to my Crochet Photo Pattern Tips and Tricks series that explains how easy it is to do.

Check out the full article HERE.