Changing a Crochet Pattern to Suit Your Personal Preferences

Beginning of what will be a nice granny-style poncho

Beginning of what will be a lovely child’s granny-style poncho

I’m working with my eight year-old crochet student on a granny-style poncho which we are both making, hers for herself and mine for her little sister. The poncho is crocheted in the round, and it’s like making a granny square, except there are only two corners instead of four.

What I love about the pattern (pattern link at the end of the post) is that the designer includes a symbol chart along with the written instructions. I’ve been trying to think of ways to start my young student reading simple patterns, but I think symbol charts might be the way to go for now. They seem to be a lot easier than written patterns for her to understand.

On the other hand, there are a couple of things I don’t like about the pattern; so I decided to make some changes to suit my personal preferences. It’s also a way to teach my student you CAN make adjustments to a pattern if there’s something you’d prefer to do differently.

Adjusting How Rounds End and Begin

One of the things I want to change in this pattern is the way the rounds end and begin. The designeruses the “half-corner” method I wrote about in a blog post that describes 3 ways to begin and end a granny square round.

Remember, this poncho is essentially a granny square with two corners instead of four. So these methods will work with this poncho.

Half-Corner Method

The "Half-Corner" Method

The “Half-Corner” Method

As the name suggests, the round begins with haft a corner (a full corner is “3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc).

To begin the half corner after you’ve ended the previous round with a slip stitch to join, you chain 3 and then do 2 double crochets to create the half corner in the chain space. At the end of the round, you finish that half corner with “3 dc, ch 1, sl st to the top of the dc of the first half of the corner.” So in the “half corner” method, all of the rounds begin and end at this corner.

The problem is that the two double crochets of the first half of the corner are actually worked BEHIND the beginning ch 3, even though they look like they come after the chain 3. That’s the only way you can get them in the chain-1 space that separates the two halves of the corner.

My student had some difficulty making those two double crochets, so we decided to use the third method described in my blog post. I call it “It Depends How the Round Ends” method because how you begin the round depends on how you completed the previous round. (I describe this method fully in the blog post referenced above).

But using this method brought something else to my attention that I decided to change, namely, getting rid of the dreaded “chain 3” double crochet.

Getting Rid of The Dreaded “Chain 3” Double Crochet

The “It Depends” Method

"It Depends Method" - Start round with a Ch 4

The “It Depends Method” – Start round with a Ch 4

One of the two ways the rounds begin in the “It Depends” method is to start with a chain 4, which counts as 1 double crochet (chain 3) and a chain 1.

As most crocheters will tell you, the chain 3, which substitutes for the double crochet at the beginning of a round or row, is a lot thinner than an actual double crochet and leaves an ugly gap between it and the next double crochet. So we’re always searching for ways to make it look more like a REAL double crochet.

I came across one such ch-3 alternative at the Shibaguyz Designs blog that involves substituting a “single crochet, chain 2” for the chain 3 at the beginning of a row (or round).

It’s a lot better than a chain 3, but I thought, why not a “half-double crochet,  chain 1″ instead?

Substituting "1 hdc, ch 2" for the beginning ch 4

Substituting “1 hdc, ch 2″ for the beginning ch 4

I like that this “fake double crochet” is almost the height of a real double crochet. The extra chain in the ch 2 represents the chain 1 between each group of 3 double crochets of the granny pattern repeat.

So we have adjusted the pattern to include a “1 hdc, ch 2” at the beginning of the round that requires a chain 4. When you’re at the end of the round, you’ll complete the corner with “3 dc, ch 1, 2 dc, sl st to 1st ch after the hdc.”

Note: When using the “It Depends” method, the beginning of the round will move one 3-dc group to the left (to the right if you’re left handed like my student) of the “3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc”corner as you work succeeding rounds. The orange stitch marker in the photo above is where the round originally began and ended on round 2 of the poncho pattern.

The "It Depends" Method - Start  the round with “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space.”

The “It Depends” Method – Start the round with “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space.”

When the end of the previous round calls for you to start the new round with a “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space,” we’ll replace that chain 3 with a “1 hdc, ch 1.” At the end of the round, “ch 1, sl st to the top of the beginning ch 3.” Then begin the next round with a chain 4 and alternate between these two ways to end and begin succeeding rounds.

Two Changes Made to the Poncho Pattern

To sum  up, I made two changes to this pattern. I –

  • Changed the way the rounds end and begin.
  • Substituted a “fake double crochet” for the ch-3 double crochet.

These adjustments won’t affect how the finished piece looks. In fact, I think they’re going to improve the end result.

Here’s a link to the poncho pattern in case you’re interested in trying it for yourself. (Note: The pattern uses European crochet terms).

What adjustments to crochet patterns have you made to suit your personal preferences?

Crochet Photo Art Business Interview: Nora Ashley

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about how it’s possible to set up a crochet portrait or photo art business that lets you sell pieces you create from customers’ personal photographs. One of my pattern customers, Nora Ashley, has done just that. I asked Nora if I could interview her about her business, and she gladly agreed.

When did you first learn to crochet and who taught you?

I was already knitting by the time I got to 6th grade. My mom taught me how. I was even asked to show the other kids how to knit during our after-school craft hours. Even the teacher was impressed with my skills.

Then I wanted to learn crochet. I was in the hospital at age eight and had just started to learn how to do the chain stitch; that’s all I knew. Every time I’d finish the ball, I figured out what my mom was doing. She’d go out of the room, unravel the chain, ball up the yarn and hand it back to me again just to keep me going. Then I started to buy books, so I am mostly self taught.

What kinds of items do you like to crochet?

I mostly did blankets at the time, but was looking for work, and who knew that I’d be working for a designer. She taught me a lot about garment making. She would design the originals, and I would help her mass produce her products. I learned how to make everything, including vests, skirts, pants, shorts and even dresses and ponchos. What you can make with crochet is truly unlimited!

 What prompted you to start crocheting graphghans?

I had been wanting to do picture-ghans for a long time, but didn’t like using graphs or doing the yarn carry over technique (i.e., intarsia crochet). I prefer the “cut and tie” method. And I didn’t have the funds for the patterns, but at some point I did and finally decided to give it a try.

A friend of mine asked if I could do a Marines afghan for her. So I researched a lot of hours to find a pattern, and your website came up. Your website was the most inexpensive one I found, and I get my patterns in a timely manner, too. I also got permission from the Marine Corp to use their emblem for the afghan.

Marine graphghan

What do you like most about doing these pieces and why?

Doing these pieces is so much fun; it’s like painting but with yarn. And I love how it’s much easier to do (when using crochet photo patterns) than doing them from crochet charts. The patterns come out true to the picture, and it’s much more personal, I think, when you create a crocheted piece from someone’s photo.

I understand you are selling some of your finished pieces. Has it proven to be a profitable venture for you? How so?

Yes, it has but you have to be careful of certain laws when selling pieces that incorporate licensed images. I get permission first; then I create the picture-ghan. I get the most pleasure out of receiving feedback when I’m done with a piece. But yes, making a profit helps as well.

How do you establish a price for your graphghans?

I’ve tried to keep costs down for as long as I’ve been crocheting. I buy yarn whenever it’s on sale. People say you should use the better quality yarn, but I have always and will continue to use what’s local, like Red Heart Super Saver and the colors that are recommended by brand, Caron yarn especially. The big “pounders” are awesome to use.

I charge $100 for my blankets which includes the price I pay for the pattern, the cost of the yarn, and the time it takes to make one. I’m getting faster at it. I get more pleasure out of the responses I get when I have completed a piece for a customer. And my customers are willing to pay at any cost. Each blanket is a unique piece, and I include an extra bonus – I do angel work and get messages from spirit for each one that I create.

What advice would you give to crocheters who want to start a crochet photo art business?

I would first try to see if you like doing it. Some people just can’t quite get the hang of it and give up. Start simple until you understand it. Find what works for you.

Also, have a place where you can leave your piece when you’re not working on it. I have a big plastic container with a lid; that way it will also be protected if you have animals. And you won’t lose your place if you have to stop at any time.

I have a waiting list now for graphghans to be done. It feels good that people still appreciate the value of a good handmade item versus buying it factory-made. And it will keep for years as an heirloom when stored properly. Thanks to you, Patrice, I am able to put fun back into my life and think outside of the box when it comes to crocheting.

If you want to learn more about Nora’s graphghan business, you can find her on Facebook as “Nora Ashley.”

Recently Completed Crochet Photo Pattern Pieces

Both my customers and I have been working steadily to complete a number of crochet photo pattern pieces. I’m so pleased with how they turned out that I wanted to share them with you.

(All photos are used with permission)


Nora Ashley loves doing graphghans and prefers to work with my patterns instead of using a graph. She has also started a business creating afghans for customers. I’ll be doing a separate blog post on Nora’s business very soon.


Ima Flenming-Foster created this piece from an old photo of her parents. It will make a great framed piece or even a pillow. Both Nora’s and Ima’s pieces are crocheted horizontally, from the bottom up.


You don’t have to speak English to understand my patterns. Meire Couto, whom I’ve been chatting with on Google+ in Portuguese (thanks Google Translate!), just finished this Little Butterfly pattern. It’s the free pattern I recommend newcomers start with. She did a great job!


Finally, I recently finished this piece of my good friend, Lyn and her husband Bill, who got married last year. I created the pattern from one of their wedding photos. Lyn and I are going to frame the finished piece so she can hang it on her wall. Both Meire and this piece are crocheted vertically, from side to side.

Since the main stitch involved in crocheting these pieces is single crochet, they are fairly easy to do. The patterns give you all the information you need to complete them. I also have some crochet photo pattern tips and tricks that will give you even more information on working with these patterns. And you can always reach me at if you have questions or would like to get started making your own crochet photo pattern pieces.

Happy crocheting!

Free Kitty Cat Crochet Photo Pattern

Used with permission

Used with permission

I have teamed up with my crochet buddy, Rhelena of Crochet N’ Crafts, to offer this free crochet photo pattern of my house cat, General Mew. You’ll find it exclusively on Rhelena’s site, ready for immediate download.

It took me forever to capture the General in this photo as she likes to stretch out on the floor and expose her tummy for me to rub with my foot (I’m allergic, so I don’t use my hands). If she doesn’t get immediate gratification, she shifts to another position to give me better access!

After getting this shot, I tried for more, but finally gave up, figuring this was the best one I was going to get.

This gray scale pattern in eight shades of brown is 100 rows and 119 stitches, crocheted from the bottom up. Be sure to read the material I’ve provided before the row-by-row instructions before you begin working the pattern, especially if you’ve never done one before.

You’ll also find a link at Rhelena’s site  that will direct you to a smaller, butterfly pattern if you want some practice before attempting this one.

I plan to make a pillow to give to one of my housemates, the cat’s owner, for Christmas (keeping my fingers crossed that he won’t see this post until then!). I would love to see your projects once you finish them. Post your links to your photos in the comment section below when you do.

Good luck, and if you have questions or need help, feel free to contact me at

Craftsy’s BIG Fall Course Sale! – Is Over

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Craftsy has over 17 crochet classes to choose from, so shop Craftsy today!