Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Pain of Crocheting or Ways to manage or avoid hand, wrist, arm, or next pain.

Hey guys! I apologize for how long it's been since my last post. Life's been busy, busy, busy!

While we all enjoy crochet and the lovely results of our time and work, there is a not-so-fun side that many people don't talk about. I've been crocheting for over twenty years now and its only been within the last five that hand and arm pain has really become an issue. At first, I thought this was simply because of the massive amount of projects I tend start in mid November and push myself to finish by Christmas. However, I also have a few friends who deal with this problem quite regularly and one suggested this topic for a post (Sorry it took so long to actually get it posted.)

There are a few different causes of pain while crocheting. We will go over them as well as ways to prevent pain and deal with it when it does happen.

As with any pain, if you are having continued and/or intense pain, you should discuss it with a licensed medical professional. I am not a Doctor or other medical professional. Please be safe and take you health seriously. 

Now, lets talk about types of pain while crocheting, the most common causes, and ways to prevent or help relieve it:


  1. Neck/Shoulder/Back
    • This type of pain is generally caused by prolonged periods of time spent sitting and looking down while crocheting.
    • Sitting for long periods of time is not healthy normally and can cause all different kinds of back/leg/hip/shoulder/neck pain. This is especially true when you spend the entire time looking down at a crochet project. 
    • Preventing this type of pain is simple; Take breaks. For every thirty minutes to an hour you sit crocheting, take ten to fifteen minutes to get up and move around. Go for a walk, step outside for a few minutes. Just get up and stretch out your muscles.
    • If you do start having this type of pain, Take a longer break from crocheting and try to relax those muscles. Heating pads or a hot shower can go a long way toward making you feel better.
  2. Eye pain/Blur
    • I find this is an issue not many people consider when crocheting. 
    • Depending on how small and intricate your project is, this can be a more important issue. 
      • I find when working with thread (while making a doily or lace) I often need to wear my reading glasses to help with eye strain.
    • If your eyes start feeling tired, painful, or your vision blurs, take a break. Look somewhere farther away for a while. 
      • Across the room, out the window, etc.
  3. Hand/Wrist/Arm
    • These are the most common types of pain I hear about from other crocheters. 
    • If you have had previous issues with Carpal Tunnel, Arthritis, or other hand/wrist/arm injuries, it can make this type of pain a bigger and more serious issue.
      • If this is something you have to consider, please discuss this issue with your doctor. 
    • If your hands/wrists/arms are otherwise healthy, use common sense when dealing with fatigue or muscle strain. 
    • Take breaks!
      • I cannot stress this enough! Breaks are important. Let your hands/wrists/arms rest every once in a while. 
      • I understand being excited to finish a project or wanting to get it done on time. There are times when I have pushed through the pain to finish a project by a deadline I had set. Doing this can cause the pain to worsen, last longer than it normally would, decrease your ability to use the hand/wrist/arm for an extended amount of time, and has the potential cause more damaging and serious injury.
    • If you are having forearm pain, simple Carpal Tunnel stretches or exercises can help loosen up forearm muscles and lessen pain. 
      • Please check out this post by WebMD for some fantastic examples of  Stretching Exercises to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome I use most of them daily.
      • Even if Carpal Tunnel is not something you are worried about or currently dealing with, these stretching exercises are a good idea both before an after crocheting.

I'm going to spend the rest of this post discussing a few more hand pain prevention/management suggestions. I'm discussing these separately because they center more around products and less around simple changes to your routine. 

First, lets talk about crochet hooks and how different kinds can help prevent pain:
Standard crochet hooks are pretty thin (even when using larger sizes.) This can add additional strain on your hands and the muscles in your forearm simply because you have to use a tighter grip when using them. 

Boye Brand Ergonomic Handle:
This is a good option if you don't want to by new hooks for every size. However, I did not find this handle very comfortable to use and it took quite a while to adjust and be able to crochet easily with it. Unless you are overly restrained by budget, this is not one I would recommend. 

Boye Brand Hooks:



Boye (as well as most other brands) also makes individual, ergonomic crochet hooks. I find these tend to be easier to use and adjust to. They are going to cost a bit more than the standard aluminum hooks, but the benefits are worth it. Honestly, looking at these for the first time, I couldn't imagine they would make the amount of difference they did. 

Susan Bates:
I own a few Susan Bates bamboo handled aluminum hooks. They are beautiful! However, as the handle does not extend over the grip, they do not add a whole lot in terms of pain prevention. They do give most of your hand a wider area to grip but depending on how you hold your hook (overhand or underhand) this style might not help you at all. This hook took almost no adjustment time to crochet normally with. 

Yarnology:
Most recently, I have been using Yarnology brand acrylic crochet hooks and I LOVE them. At first, I thought the design of the handle would be a bit awkward to hold, but its not. It actually gives you several different options on how to hold the hook so you can adjust and hold it in a way that is comfortable to you. They are light weight and smooth. They have the hook size printed on the lower part of the handle. The handle is wide enough to adjust your hand to a more healthy grip size without being uncomfortable. It didn't take long at all to adjust to using it. 

Etsy:

If you are looking for a more personal touch, enjoy handmade tools, and have a little extra money to spend on new hooks, I encourage you to check out Etsy for some really amazing hooks. Click here for a direct link to an Etsy search for ergonomic crochet hooks. You will find handmade as well as manufactured ones here.

DIY:

If you are like me and love any simple DIY, there are tons of tutorials online for how to modify your current steel/aluminum hooks to be more ergonomic. Please check out this simple tutorial from Dabbles & Babbles for a how-to DIY Polymer Clay Crochet Hook Handle. Polymer Clay is simple to use, it cures in your oven, is relatively cheap, and easy to find in amounts small enough for one or two hooks at a time.  Most importantly, you can customize your hooks to fit your needs and style. Tip: consider using rubber letter/number stamps to press the hook size into the end of your handle for easy identification later.

Okay, now that we've covered hooks, lets talk about managing hand/wrist/arm pain when it does happen. I want to note that while all of these look like they focus mainly on the hand/wrist, they can also be use to relieve forearm pain as the muscles in the forearm are often strained due to the repetitive wrist/hand movements involved in crochet.  There are a few different approaches and each has its pros and cons. 

There are many different brands of compression gloves. 



They can be found in almost any price range and in most stores. These are fantastic to use while crocheting. The only issue is finding an appropriate size. They should fit snugly without cutting off circulation. I would suggest reading customer reviews as different brands tend to stretch and sag with extended use.

I have had many people tell me they use a thumb stabilizing brace to help ease hand/wrist/arm pain.
This type of brace is especially helpful with more intense pain (like you might have if you have pushed through the pain to finish a project.) I have personally used one to help with upper forearm pain. Stabilizing/reducing thumb movement can give strained muscles time to heal and help ease pain. The drawback to this type is comfort and you obviously cannot crochet very well while wearing it. However, you should probably be taking an extended break from crochet if you are having the type of pain you would need this one for. 

A good compromise between these two types is an over the thumb wrist stabilizing wrap. 



This type of wrap is soft. It doesn't have any hard bars or plates like the brace does. It is comfortable to wear and allows you to crochet while wearing it as long as you do not have any intense pain. It also helps stabilize/support your thumb and has some of the same benefits of the compression glove. The biggest advantage of this type of support is it is adjustable. The Velcro end can attach to any part of the wrap meaning it can fit all hand sizes with almost no effort. 


All-in-all, the best route you can take is prevention. Take breaks. Buy/DIY more ergonomic and healthy tools. Don't push yourself. If it hurts, stop. If it keeps hurting, contact your Doctor.

Be safe and have fun.
Thanks for reading,
Stormi

If you raise chickens, keep an eye out for a pattern I'm currently working on for a fun and handy egg gathering apron in both adult and child sizes. 



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beginner Tunisian Crochet How To: Basic/Simple stitch, Knit stitch, and Double stitch

Tunisian Crochet can be a fun change from normal versions of crochet. It can also help you achieve new textures. 

There are different versions of hooks used for Tunisian crochet. Some look like crochet hoods with a cord attached to the end. The ones I usually use are more like a crochet hook/knitting needle hybrid. They have a hook at one end and a metal/rubber/plastic stopper at the other end. You can find them in different lengths and will want to use longer sizes for larger projects such as large blankets. A standard crochet hook can be used for smaller projects or for the purpose of learning. The hook I use in this post is a size 10 of the Susan Bates brand. This is equal to a regular J size crochet hook.

Basic/Simple Tunisian Stitch

Start with a basic slip knot on your hook.

Your foundation chain needs to be equal to the number stitches across you need for your project (unless working working the double crochet style). For this post, I started with a foundation chain of 10.

Starting in the second chain from the hook and working in each chain across, insert the hook into the chain, yarn over, and pull through the chain. When you have pulled a loop through each of the chains, you will have 10 (equal to your foundation ch) loops on your hook.

When doing Tunisian crochet, you do not turn your work. Instead, you simply work back and forth. Once you have all your loops on the hook, you chain 1 (yarn over and pull through the first loop on the hook.)

Now you will work the loops off just like you are working single crochets. *Yarn over, pull through 2 loops* Repeat from *to* back across your project until you only have 1 loop remaining on your hook.

This is what it will look like when you have worked all but 1 loop off of your hook.

Notice the vertical posts across the front of the first row. This is what you will insert your hook behind the vertical loop and back out the front of the project to pull up the loops for your next row. 

Treat the loop that is already on your hook as the first loop for the second row. Insert the hook behind the posts from right to left, yarn over, pull the loop back behind the post from left to right. In the picture above, I have pulled up one loop and now have two on the hook.

Repeat this across until you have all 10 loops on the hook. 

Work the rest of the row as before. Chain 1, *yarn over, pull through 2 loops* repeat from *to* across until you only have 1 loop left on your hook.

Repeat until you have reached the desired length. 

This is what the front side of the Basic/Simple stitch looks like. This is generally the most common type of Tunisian style crochet stitch I come across. 

This is what the back side looks like. 

To finish off when a nice neat end, you will insert the hook behind the posts in the same way you did when you were pulling up loops before, yarn over, pull the loop behind the post AND through the loop already on your hook so you still only have one loop. You are basically working slip stitches across the top of the project in the same style you were crocheting. You can also use this end to finish the next two types of stitches as well, you just have to make sure you go all the way through the back of the project to maintain the stitch style when working in the knit stitch. 

Tunisian Knit Stitch

To work the Tunisian Knit stitch, you start the same way you would for the basic stitch. After the first row, instead of inserting the hook behind the vertical post and back out the front of the project like you do for the basic stitch, you insert it behind the post and then straight through the back of the project. 

Insert the hook behind the vertical post and through the back of the project, yarn over, pull back through the project to add a loop to your hook. Repeat across until you have 10 loops on your hook.
The loops are worked off in the same way they are worked off in the basic stitch. Ch 1, *yarn over, pull through 2 loops* repeat from *to* until you only have 1 loop on your hook. 
Repeat until you have reached the desired length. 

This is what the front side of the Knit Stitch looks like. You will notice the chain like V's down the front that mimic the pattern knit stitches in knitting make. 

This is what the back of the knit stitch looks like. 

From what I have noticed, knit stitch is usually slightly thicker feeling that the basic stitch and tends to work up slightly tighter for me. 

Both Basic and Knit stitches tend to curl over on itself and it can be difficult to get the project to lay flat. 

Double Crochet Tunisian Stitch

When working the double crochet style Tunisian crochet, you need to add a stitch to your foundation chain. Since I was working with 10 stitches in this post, I needed to start with a foundation chain of 11. You start by yarning over and inserting the hook into the 3rd chain from the hook to pull up a loop just like you would when working a double crochet in standard crochet.

Yarn over and pull a loop through the first two loops on the hook. You have now worked 1/2 of a double crochet and should have two loops on your hook just like in the picture above. 

Repeat this across until you have 1/2 of a double crochet in each chain across and 10 loops on your hook. 

Work the loops off the hook in the same way you would for the basic stitch. Chain 1, *yarn over, pull through 2 loops* repeat across until you only have 1 loop left on your hook.

When working the double crochet Tunisian stitch, you have to chain 1 between rows to bring you up to the proper height for the row. If you do not do this, your project will be shorter on one end. 

For this post, I am working behind the vertical posts and out the front of the project just like you do for the basic stitch.

However, you can work straight through the back like the knit stitch.

Either way you choose to work through the posts, work the 1/2 double crochet stitches across and then take the loops off in the same manner as before. Repeat until you have reached the desired length for your project. 

This is what the front side of the double crochet Tunisian stitch looks like. 

This is the double crochet Tunisian style stitch from the back.

While both the Basic and Knit stitches curl back on themselves quite a bit, the double crochet stitch tends to lay much flatter. Unless you work with super tight stitches, it usually lays flat.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and ask or join the Facebook group.

Have fun with this unique crochet style!

Stormi

What would you like to see from me and What I have planned for the near future...

Over the next month or so, I hope to have several more patterns posted. As of right now, I am looking at finishing and posting patterns for a "Giant" double sided checker board with checkers and a carrying bag, an adjustable version of my crochet bow-tie pattern, and a "Niffler" inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

While I've been thinking about what new patterns I want to develop and post, I've come to the realization that I have been neglecting the "How To" side of this blog. So I have a few questions for all of you. 

What do you want to see?
What are you having difficulties with?
What have you come across that you just don't understand?

One of the things I have always loved about crochet is the ability to constantly learn new things and share the knowledge with others. However, I've been doing this for so long it is difficult to gauge what others (especially beginners) might be having difficulty with. 

If you have any questions or suggestions for future "Help" or "How To" posts, please comment below or join the Facebook Group and post there to let me know. 

I look forward to hearing your suggestions. 

Stormi

Monday, August 29, 2016

Crochet, Amigurumi Baby Mew Pattern





Baby Mew
Size 7 (or G/6) Crochet hook
Stitch marker
Yarn Needle
Pink Yarn
Small amount of blue yarn
 Poly-Fil

Notes:
This pattern is worked in rounds. This means you use a stitch marker to mark the last stitch in each row and instead of joining with a slip stitch at the end of each row, you simply continue in one continuous spiral. 
I like to fasten off with a slip stitch into the next stitch, chain 1, cut the thread and pull it through the loop. 

Head:
Magic Ring with 6 sc
Increase around
*Sc, increase* around
*2sc, increase* around
*3sc, increase* around
Sc around for 3 rows
*3sc, decrease*around
*2sc, decrease* around
Stuff
*sc, decrease* around
Decrease around
Fasten off and sew closed

Body:
Magic Ring with 6 sc
Increase around
*sc, increase* around
Sc around for 8 rows
*sc, decrease* around
Fasten off leaving end open and keeping a tail long enough to sew to head.

Ears x2:
Magic Ring with 6sc
*sc, increase* around
*2sc, increase* around
*3sc, increase* around
Fasten off leaving enough tail to sew to head.

Nose:
Magic Ring with 6sc
Increase around
*sc, increase* around
Fasten off leaving enough tail to sew to head

Feet x4:
Magic Ring with 6sc
*sc, increase* around
Sc around for 3 rows.
Fasten off leaving enough tail to sew to body

Tail:
Magic Ring with 6sc
Increase around
Sc around for 4 rows
Stuff
Dec around
Sc around for 8 rows
Fasten off leaving enough tail to sew to body.


Sew together and use blue yarn to embroider eyes. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Crochet Tail (Mermaid / Dinosaur / Etc) Blanket Pattern : Instructions for both adult and child sizes.



A while back, my sister came to me with a blanket project that she wanted me to make for her. Well, one thing happened and then another and the blanket just never got made. Fast forward about a year and she comes to me with it again as a Christmas project.

If you've come across any of my previous posts, you will know I NEVER purchase patterns when I can make one of my own or find a free one that is similar enough to what I need. So, when my sister brought up the mermaid tails for a second time, I began by searching the internet. 

There are TONS of patterns with TONS of different styles out there for free. There were things I liked about each and every pattern, however, none of them 100% fit what I was looking for. Instead, I printed off one that had a good general pattern and went from there. 

The pattern I started with was Adult Sized Mermaid Lapghan by Mad Hooker Crochet.

Over all, this is a great pattern and seasoned crocheters will have no problem following it. As for beginners, I think it may be a little difficult to follow. This is mainly due to the style in which the pattern is written out and edits were made to the post. I strongly urge you to check out their blog as there are several other patterns and fantastic project ideas.

This project is one that can be customized in an infinite number of ways. I have made three so far One was solid pink with solid green fins, one was solid pink with dark and light striped fins, and the other alternated colors with every row and has dinosaur spikes down the front of it. Change it up, experiment with color combos and different types of tails. The only thing I would discourage is attempting to make three in the two week span before Christmas. Speaking from experience, this can have some unfortunate consequences for your hooking arm.


The original pattern called for an H hook and I decided to use a K instead. When using the larger hook, the pattern works up much faster and the "scale" shapes become more prominent when only using one color instead of doing stripes. The larger hook size also meant that I had to adjust the numbers of stitches and rows for the pattern. This was something I was going to have to do from the start to make this pattern fit a child, but the numbers for the adult size would have changed as well.

What follows is the pattern/sizing instructions and pictures of my alterations to their original pattern.

Just as a fun bit of info and a glimpse into how I work, this is what often happens when I create or modify patterns. Unless I am planning on making a blog post about it, this is also what I usually have to work with if I ever decide to make more from the same pattern.


 

Most of this pattern is worked in a repeating pattern of shell clusters. This gives a nice "scale" look to the entire tail.



Tools and Materials:

K/6.50MM Crochet hook (Keep in mind, the way this pattern is written, you can change the size of the hook without any issue. Larger hook sizes will mean less stitches and a more prominate "scale" pattern when working with only one color)

Worsted Weight Yarn (This is also not set in stone with this pattern. You could easily use a different weight pattern and add/subtract stitches as you need.)

*Note on the amount of yarn: Because this pattern is written to fit your needs, I cannot really give an accurate estimate of how much you will need as this will depend on the size of tail you are making. I will say the three I have made so far have been child-sized and fit the average size 4-8 year old. With these three, I think I used about 1 1/2 skeins EACH total.

Yarn Needle For hiding ends and attaching the fins/scales/etc.

Abbreviations:
Ch: Chain
St: Stitch
Sl: Slip
Sk: Skip
Dc: Double Crochet
Sc: Single Crochet
sc2tog: Single Crochet 2 Together
Hdc: Half Double Crochet

Pattern: What follows will be the pattern for the child size tails I have made so far with suggestions for alterations in size and notes in Bold.

Start with a foundation chain of 92.

*IMPORTANT* When deciding how long your foundation chain needs to be, it should be at least long enough to easily tuck under both thighs when draped across the top of the legs. The only requirement is the number of chains MUST be a multiple of 6 (with 2 added to work as your first Dc) to accommodate the pattern in the following rows. 

Dc in the third ch from hook and in each ch across.

1: Ch 1 and turn. Sc in last st of previous row, [Sk 2, dc 5 in next st, Sk 2 Sc in next st] repeat from [ to ] across ending with a Sc in the first st of the previous row.

2: Ch 2 and turn. 2 Dc in last st of previous row  (this counts as 3 Dc or 1/2 a shell st), [Sc in the center (3rd) dc of next shell, 5 Dc in next Sc.] repeat from [ to ] across ending with 3 Dc in the first Sc from the previous row. 

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 30 rows (This number could be off by one. You want to make sure the last row you do is pattern row 2)

*For larger sizes or taller kids (or smaller if that is what you need) you will need to add (or remove) repeated rows here. You want to reach a length that fits from the hips to just below the knees when seated.

Join both ends (into a circle) with a Sl St into the first Dc of the row.

3: Ch 1, Sc into the St you joined into, 5 Dc into next Sc, [Sc in the center (3rd) dc of next shell, 5 Dc in next Sc.] repeat from [ to ] around and join with a Sl St into the first Sc of the round.

4: Ch 3, 4 Dc into the St you joined into, Sc in the center (3rd) Dc of next shell, [5 Dc in next Sc, Sc in the center (3rd) Dc of next shell] repeat from [ to ] around and join with a Sl St to the fist DC of the round.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 for 15 rows.

*For larger sizes or taller kids (or smaller) you will need to add (or remove) repeated rows here. You want to reach total length that fits from the hips to mid calf (or just below) when seated.

Now you will start to decrease and bring the tail to a point. To do this, you will work a series of different decrease rows. These decrease rows should work the same for any size of tail you are making. Simply follow the pattern as it is written from here on out.

Repeat rows 3 - 4 twice and SUBSTITUTE every other shell in the row with a 1/2 shell (3 Dc instead of 5). (i.e. full shell, Sc, half shell, Sc Full shell...)

Repeat row 3 once and SUBSTITUTE every shell for a half shell.

The next rows, you will repeat until the tail is closed on the end.

5: Ch 3, 2 Dc in the same st as join, Sk 1, sc2tog, Sk 1, [ 3 Dc in next St, Sk 1, sc2tog] repeat around and join with a Sl St into the first Dc of the round.

6: Ch 1, sc2tog, Sk 1, 3 Dc in next St, Sk 1, [ sc2tog, Sk 1, 3 Dc in next st] repeat around and join with a Sl St into the first sc2tog of the round.

When your tail is mostly closed at the end, fasten off, turn inside out,  weave through the stitches of your last row, pull tight to close, tie off and weave in the end.

Fins: Make 2
1: Ch 25, Sc in the 2nd Ch from the hook and next 4 (for a total of 5 Sc) Hdc in next 4, Dc in the next 6, Hdc in the next 4, Sc in the next 5, Ch 2 and turn to work down the opposite side of the chain. Sc in next 5, Hdc in next 4, Dc in next 6, Hdc in next 4, Sc in next 5.

2: Ch 1 and turn. [Sc in next 3, Hdc in next 4, Dc in next 10*, Hdc in next 4, Sc in next 3] (2 Sc, Ch 2, 2 Sc) in Ch 2 Sp. Repeat from [ to ] on the opposite side.

Repeat row 2 adding an additional 2 Dc to the Bold number until you reach the size you would like. I repeated this row 4 times. If you would like larger or smaller fins, repeat it more or less times.

Sc around and fasten off leaving enough of a tail to sew fins onto the bottom of tail.        

Dinosaur Spikes:
These were simple 1/2 granny squares that I made using 2 strands of yarn instead of 1 so that they stand up better.

Click here for a pattern on how to crochet 1/2 granny squares. This link includes both a written pattern and charts.


As always have fun with this pattern and feel free to comment with any questions/sugestions/etc.

Stormi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Modifying Existing Patterns to Fit Your Needs and Style

It's been a while since I've made a new post. Between family and school, I just haven't had the time over the past year. Well, school's out for the summer and I've been looking for ideas. Last night, I sat down to try a pattern I came across on Pinterest and, during a particular frustrating tear out, inspiration struck. 

One of the best things about Crochet is the ability to customize everything you make. It is VERY rare to come across a pattern that cannot be modified in one way or another. 

If you know me, you know that most of the time, I write my own patterns for a lot of the projects I work on. Whether the project is 100% my own, or I've come across something in a store or online and thought to myself "I can totally make that." the process is the same and pattern writing takes time and patience. 

If I come across a pattern I like and the pattern happens to be free, I usually always give it a try. After all, why would I put in all the time and work to make one of my own when someone else is offering up their time and work for free? 

That being said, it is rare that I get all the way through a free pattern without changing something.  Not all patterns you come across online (especially ones that you find for free) are free of errors. In fact, a large percentage of the patterns I come across on line have errors, are written in a way that is difficult for most beginner/intermediate crocheters to understand, or executed in a way that could have been done in a FAR more simple manner. 

The other issue you come across with patterns (whether free or not) is a difficulty in finding a pattern that is exactly what you need/want and that also fits into your personal style. 

Too many beginners are afraid to change up a pattern on their own and they really shouldn't be. As long as you have the basics down and a little bit of imagination, you can modify any pattern to result in something customized exactly the way you want it. 

On to my example:

The pattern I came across on Pinterest was for a zippered pouch.


I highly suggest you give it a try! Aside from one issue I had at the beginning, I think it is a very well written pattern.

The only technical issue I had with the pattern was really about the execution of  round 2 and this was 100% because I felt it could be done in a far simpler way so that's what I did.  If you want to do this pattern and use the more simple way that I did, simply ch 40 like the pattern calls for, work a hdc in the 2nd ch from hook and in each ch to the end. Instead of following the rest of her round 2, simply turn the project and work 1 hdc in the other side of each ch to the other end and join with a slst to the 1st hdc in the round. Then continue with her pattern the way it is written. 

There were a few things I wanted to change about this pattern:
  1. I only had worsted weight cotton (not the DK the pattern calls for) This means that the pattern left the way it is written would have made this pouch HUGE.
  2. I wanted the finished product to be a bit smaller than the one in the original pattern. 
  3. I wanted different colors.
  4. I wanted the color changes to happen twice as often as the pattern calls for.
While the original pattern is FANTASTIC, I still wanted to make these changes so that when I was finished, I had something that fit my needs/style. 

As with any pattern I find online, I gave it a go 100% following the pattern and then decided how to go about customizing it. 

The pictures that follow were that first attempt along with my thoughts on each part:
I think the main thing that really made me fall in love with this pattern was the texture. As you can see, I changed the color scheme right from the start. Color is one of the simplest and most effective way you can customize a pattern. I chose to stick with her original color change intervals (at first) but you could easily do this project in all one color if you want to. 
 This is as far as I went with the first attempt. I could feel that something wasn't quite right and did not see the point of finishing something that was going to be too large for me to use in a practical way. 
 The original pattern has this pouch measuring in at about 9.5 inches wide and as you can see, mine was closer to 11. This was the point I realized that I had made a mistake in regards to the yarn I was using. I read cotton and grabbed the cotton I had. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn which is slightly smaller than the worsted weight I had. Read the materials list on you patterns CLOSELY!
And again, the pattern has the height on this measuring about 6.5 inches and you can see that I'm almost there and I still have a few more sections to go.

So, needless to say, I ripped all of that out and started over. 

Since I wanted the finished project to be smaller than the one in the pattern, instead of chaining 40 like the original pattern calls for, I chained 26. If you are working in DK, you might not want to decrease quite this much as DK is a smaller weight yarn. 

Important: It is really simple to change up the size of a pattern but there are a few things to keep in mind when doing this. 
  • If your project is simple (such as dc in each st across/around) you simply decrease the number of chains/stitches in the foundation row. I
  • f your pattern is a bit more detailed, like this one, you have to take the pattern repeat into account. 
    • Since this pattern is the same two stitches repeated you need to make sure when you decrease this pattern, your foundation chain is an even number. 

The following pictures are of my finished pouch using the modified pattern:

This pouch ended up about 7 inches wide and 5 inches tall. As you can see, Instead of changing colors every 4 rows like the original pattern calls for, I changed colors every 2 rows. I liked the smaller bands of color and it really helped to keep the striped look of this pouch since I was using larger yarn but making a smaller pouch.
This is a great example of how color changes can change the whole look of a project. If I had changed color every row, the white would have faded into the background more and this pouch would have taken on more of a "basket weave" type of pattern.
 This is the opening. Because this was smaller than I had originally planned based on the pattern, I had to cut the zipper shorter to get it to fit.
 I am glad that I made it smaller than the pattern called for because it is the perfect size to hold the small amount of make-up that generally rolls around loose in my purse.  

This pattern was simple to modify, but you can modify patterns for everything from blankets to toys, and purses to clothes. It can be as simple as changing the colors given in the original pattern, the size of the finished product, or adding or removing stripes,

You can also take a pattern of stitches from an existing pattern and use it to make one of your own. I think this stitch pattern would be just as amazing for a blanket as it is for this pouch. 

Don't shy away from thinking outside the pattern. Customizing you patterns is super fun and exciting. I always love the finished product 100 times more when I have changed a little here and a little there to make it 100% my own style. 

Go out and look around for a pattern you can tweak to fit your own needs/style and have loads of fun doing it.

Stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future and as always... 
Happy Crocheting!