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Customize a Crocheted Accessory Pattern

How to modify the size of an accessory crochet pattern, choose an alternate yarn, and find the right hook for your yarn.

Many accessory patterns – especially shawls, scarves and wraps – are easy to modify: you can use a different weight of yarn and/or make it in a different size. By choosing yarn in a colour and weight you like, you can make a unique accessory from a pattern!

In this post I’ll walk you through the easiest ways to customize a pattern, with examples of the differences you can achieve.


How to Customize a Pattern

Change the Colour

Don’t let yourself be put off from trying a pattern if the sample isn’t in a colour you like – the simplest way to make your accessory unique is to crochet it in your favourite colour (or your recipient’s favourite, if it’s a gift).

Personalizing with colour gives you an original look without modifying the pattern at all, and there are no wrong choices!

shawl comparison: Sweetheart Lace Shawl crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different colourways

Look how different – but equally lovely – my Sweetheart Lace Shawl looks in two different colourways.

Resize the Pattern

If you want to make the piece a different size (for example a narrow scarf instead of a rectangular shawl, or a bandanna instead of a triangular shawl), you’ll need to increase or decrease the number of repeats in the pattern so you end up with a larger or smaller piece.

The exact way to do this depends on the shape of the pattern and the way it’s worked. (All PlanetJune Accessories patterns include instructions for how to modify the pattern to make the pattern larger or smaller.)

Cozy Mesh Triangular Shawl, a PlanetJune Accessories crochet pattern by June Gilbank

The full-size Cozy Mesh shawl (above) uses the same pattern as the kerchief-style mini shawl (below) – the larger shawl just has more rows!

Cozy Mesh Triangular Shawl, a PlanetJune Accessories crochet pattern by June Gilbank

Substitute a Different Yarn

The thickness, composition and texture of your yarn, together with your crocheting style and tension, will all affect the end result of your piece.

When you’re making an accessory, if you want to use a different weight of yarn, all you need to do is choose a suitable hook for the yarn you’re using, and then modify the pattern so you end up with the correct size.

  • If you choose a finer yarn with a smaller hook, you’ll need more repeats and more rows to reach the same finished size.
  • If you choose a heavier yarn with a larger hook, you’ll need fewer repeats and fewer rows to reach the same finished size.

shawl comparison: Half Hexagon Shawl crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different yarn weights

These two shawls are both made from my Half Hexagon Shawl pattern. The shawl on the left uses a thicker yarn and larger hook than the shawl on the right, so it needs fewer pattern repeats to end up with the same size shawl.

Change Yarn Weight and Resize

You can make an accessory look even more different by changing both the yarn weight and the finished size of the piece.

shawl comparison: Diamond Lace Wrap crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different yarn weights and different finished dimensions

Both these wraps are made from my Diamond Lace Wrap pattern. By changing the yarn weight and the finished size, they have a completely different look even though they use the same stitch pattern! The wrap on the right uses fine yarn and a small hook to give a more delicate look, even though this shawl-sized wrap is much larger overall than the scarf-sized wrap on the left with its bolder stitches.


Swatch to Find Your Hook Size

Swatching to Match Gauge

For almost any crochet pattern apart from amigurumi, the pattern will usually include gauge information: the number of stitches and rows you should have per inch, if you want your piece to end up the same size as the pattern sample.

If you use the same yarn weight as the pattern suggests, and you make a swatch (a sample square using the same stitch as the pattern), you can measure it and compare it with the gauge size given in the pattern.

  • If your gauge is smaller (more stitches per inch), then redo the swatch with a larger hook until your gauge matches that in the pattern.
  • If your gauge is larger (fewer stitches per inch), then redo the swatch with a smaller hook until your gauge matches that in the pattern.

If you don’t match the gauge given in the pattern, your finished piece won’t match the dimensions listed in the pattern.

Is Swatching Necessary?

Yes and no…

  • Are you unconcerned about meeting the designer’s gauge?
  • Are you using a completely different yarn weight?
  • Are you adapting the pattern to give you a different size anyway?

In any of those cases, making a gauge swatch to make sure you match the designer’s gauge isn’t something you need to do.

But, there’s still a very good reason to do at least a bit of swatching, even if you’re making a scarf or shawl where you don’t care if it’s a couple of inches larger or smaller than it’s ‘supposed’ to be…

Test Your Yarn/Hook Combination

With an accessory pattern, the exact size of the finished piece generally isn’t as important as the look and feel. You don’t want to end up with a stiff heavy blanket if you were hoping for a soft, airy shawl!

So, although you may not care about swatching for gauge, it’s still a good idea to swatch to make sure you’ve chosen the right hook size for your project.

Tip: The ‘right’ hook size depends on the exact yarn you’re using, how tightly you crochet, and your personal preference. There’s no right or wrong answer here – if you’re happy, you’ve made the right choice!

No matter which yarn you’re using, I do recommend you try out just a few rows of the pattern and see if it feels too stiff and firm. If so, try going up a hook size or two, and keep experimenting until you find a yarn/hook combination that gives you a nice-feeling fabric, then unravel everything and start again using the hook you liked best.

shawl comparison: Diamond Flowers Scarf Wrap crochet pattern by PlanetJune swatches using different hook sizes
Jamie from my Ravelry group worked up three quick samples of my Diamond Flowers Scarf/Wrap in the same yarn with 3 different hook sizes (I, J, K). You can see how much difference going up or down a hook size can make!

But what is a ‘nice-feeling’ fabric? Here’s how I decide…

3 Rules to Find the ‘Right’ Hook Size

How do you know if you’re happy with your yarn/hook combination?

Here are my rules of thumb that I use to help me choose the perfect hook for a project:

  1. First, I usually go by feel – I wiggle and smush (yes, those are my technical terms!) the swatch to try to see if it’s at all stiff, or soft and drapey. Generally, you’ll want your shawl or scarf to drape cosily against your body, so try to avoid a hook that produces a stiff fabric.
  2. Next, from any options that are large enough to feel nice, I look closely at the stitches to see if the looser ones look messy, and I pick the best option (no stiffness, but stitches are small enough to look neat and tidy). Note: Your stitches will all even up a bit if you choose to block your piece after crocheting, but they should still look reasonably neat at this stage!
  3. Finally, if I can’t choose, the third factor is that you can make a larger piece in less time with a larger hook, so if two hook sizes both feel good, and the stitches look good in close-up, that may be the deciding factor!

It’s not so much about the yarn as it is about the combination of yarn and hook. If your projects turn out too stiff, that means you’re using a hook that’s too small for the yarn you’re using. Everyone crochets differently, so it may be that you crochet very tightly, and always need to use a larger hook to compensate.

It’s worth putting in that bit of extra work before you start, so you don’t end up wasting hours making something you’re not happy with!


Crocheted scarves, shawls and wraps make a lovely holiday gift – and they’re even more special if you personalise them by using your giftee’s favourite colours.

I hope this post has inspired you to consider using your own creativity to customize your next crocheted accessory project with the size and colour you’d prefer!


PlanetJune Accessories crochet patterns - new covers

All the examples in this post were taken from my PlanetJune Accessories pattern collection. Take a look now and see if your next crochet project is waiting for you there – or mix-and-match your own Custom Set of any 3 PlanetJune Accessories patterns for a special price. 🙂

Comments

Using a Stitch Marker in Amigurumi [video tutorial]

My next few crochet video tutorials will be in response to customer requests. If there are other crochet techniques you’d like me to cover in future videos, please leave a comment below, or email me (june@planetjune.com) with your suggestions!

If you’ve ever lost your place while crocheting in a spiral, or discovered that you must have made a mistake many rounds earlier, I highly recommend you use a stitch marker to mark the start of every round while you crochet your amigurumi! But how do you go about doing that? How does it help you avoid mistakes, and what do you do if you realise you’ve made one?

Or, if your pattern directs you to mark a specific stitch while you crochet, how exactly do you do that?

thumbnail image for the crochet video tutorial 'Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi'

In my latest video, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using a stitch marker with amigurumi (or any other crochet worked in a continuous spiral), including:

  • How to mark the first stitch of the round
  • How to fix a mistake
  • How to mark a specific stitch

As always, the video is available in right-handed and left-handed versions.

This video is ideal for amigurumi beginners, but I recommend you watch it even if you’ve been making amigurumi for years – you may still pick up a tip or two!

Go to the Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi video tutorial >>

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Crochet Investigation: Invisible Finish

The standard way to finish an open-ended piece in amigurumi is to join with a slip stitch (sl st) to the next stitch, to reduce the height jog of the spiral between the first and last stitches of the final round. It’s a quick and easy method, and is perfectly fine if you’ll be stitching the piece down to something else so the edge won’t show in the finished amigurumi.

That’s not always the case, though – sometimes the edge will be visible in the finished piece, and in this case the sl st finish isn’t the best choice – it leaves a little bump that’s impossible to hide completely.

When I decided to make a video tutorial to show the most invisible finish for an open edge in amigurumi, I realised that, while there’s a standard method for amigurumi worked in joined rounds (and this actually forms the basis of my Perfect Stripes Invisible Join), there’s no consensus for amigurumi worked in spirals…

And you know what that means: it’s time for another crochet investigation!

Method

All my candidates are based on the standard invisible finish for joined rounds, but I considered two ways that the method can be varied that may affect the look of the finished edge:

  1. Should there be a slip stitch before the join, or not? A slip stitch would reduce the height difference before the join, but might end up more visible than without.
  2. Should there be a duplicated stitch, or an additional stitch added? The additional stitch was my original preferred method from 2009 (there’s no need to maintain the stitch count if the edge won’t be worked back into, so the duplicate stitch isn’t necessary) but is that a good reason to keep doing it? (Of course not – not if there’s a better way…)

So that gives us four candidates for the experiment:

C: no slip stitch, join in next stitch
D: no slip stitch, duplicate stitch join
E: slip stitch, join in next stitch
F: slip stitch, duplicate stitch join

The photos below show the results of each test, together with:

A: the piece after the final stitch is worked, before any join (note the difference in height between the final stitch, below the hook, and the next stitch to its right)
B: slip stitch join (the yarn tail isn’t woven in here, but you can clearly see the knot just below the tail that can’t be completely hidden)

candidates for the most invisible finish around an open edge in amigurumi, by PlanetJune

Results

I compared the 4 samples and noted my observations (don’t worry if you can’t see all these in the photos above; they are much more apparent when viewed from multiple angles):

C: height jog very visible; stitch count not maintained
D: height jog minimised; skipped stitch visible from front; stitch count is maintained
E: height jog minimised; sl st visible from front; stitch count not maintained
F: height jog minimised; sl st and skipped stitch visible from front; stitch count is maintained

C is an immediate fail: you can clearly see that it does the worst job of blending the height difference between the start and end of the final round.

F is the next to go: there’s an extra bar visible beneath the V from either a slipped stitch or a skipped stitch, and F has both while D and E only have one each, so it’s the worst in terms of invisibility, with extra bars visible beneath two stitches.

That leaves D and E. They’re both pretty good in terms of invisibility, but I’m going to award the prize to D: the fact that it maintains the stitch count around the edge makes it the most versatile; you can use it for an open-ended piece or one that will be stitched to something else with no problems, so this means you’ll have one fewer technique to remember!

Refining the Technique

While working on the test, I also noted that the downside of any of these methods is that you have to pull the duplicate stitch very carefully to the right size to make it look truly invisible, which makes it more difficult to then weave in the yarn tail without disturbing the size. So, I came up with a tiny refinement that makes it much easier to control the size of the duplicate stitch and keep it held in place once you’ve adjusted it to the right size.

Intrigued? Good! I’ll explain all in my new Invisible Finish video tutorial 😉

Invisible Finish for Open Edges in Amigurumi - a crochet tutorial by PlanetJune

Continue to the Invisible Finish for Open Edges in Amigurumi video tutorial >>

Comments (2)

Crochet in the Back Bumps of a Chain [video tutorial]

I’ve updated my How to Crochet in the Back Bumps of a Chain article with a brand new video tutorial! Now you can see exactly how it’s done, with my helpful highlighted stitches to guide you.

the front and back of a crocheted chain, showing the V shapes on the front and the back bumps on the back

In the video, I’ll also show you my tips to make sure you’re starting from the back bump of the correct stitch (something that confused me for a long time!)

And, as always, the video is available in right-handed and left-handed versions.

Why would you want to crochet in the back bumps of a chain? Not only to make a neat, non-loopy edge at the bottom of a rectangular piece like a scarf or blanket, but also to make small details for amigurumi, appliques, etc.

examples of PlanetJune crochet patterns that make use of crocheting into the back bumps of chains

You’ll see back bumps details in a lot of my patterns, for example Cephalopod tentacles, Snow Star snowflakes, Iguana toes and spikes, Maple Leaves 🙂

I hope you’ll find this new video tutorial helpful! (And please let me know if you have any video requests for me to demystify any other techniques I use in my patterns!)

Go to the video tutorial >>

Comments

free pattern: Tulips (and a new video!)

Here’s a new addition to my stemmed flower patterns: a beautiful realistic tulip flower with a clever one-piece construction. You’ll love how it comes together!

tulips crochet pattern by planetjune

Don’t they look gloriously spring-like in their distinctive tulip colours? (I had so much fun picking the colours for these!)

tulips crochet pattern by planetjune

I’ve also completed a new video (the first of many!) using my new audio/video equipment to accompany this pattern, and all my other stemmed flowers: Easy Yarn-Wrapped Stems for Crochet Flowers. As always, my videos are available in right- and left-handed versions, so you can see exactly what to do.

I hope you can see/hear the quality improvement in this new video, but if you don’t even notice because you’re concentrating on the content, that’s fine too. Clear, close-up and well explained techniques are always my top priority. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll always see my latest videos – I have lots more in store!

basic rose, daffodils, carnations and tulips crochet patterns by planetjune
Here are all my stemmed flowers together: Basic Rose, Daffodils, Carnations and the new Tulips. I hope they all brighten your day!

As I like to reward people who chose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of the Tulips pattern includes additional assembly photos (including left-handed photos) and my special technique for fastening off the yarn neatly at the base of the stem. As always, the pattern is free for you to use, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version.

Go to the free Tulips pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Tulips pattern >>

Not ready to make it yet? Add it to your Ravelry queue:

Comments (1)

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    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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