How I Broke Free From the Visual Tools and Completed My First Pattern Only Project


If I can do it, so can you

I’m a self-taught crocheter from YouTube, like many of you. Funny story about that.

One evening after work, I told my husband, “I’m going to Hobby Lobby and I’m going to come home with a hobby.” He chuckled a bit, but I was very serious. I had grown so tired of the monotony of waking up, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, watching TV and going to bed. I needed something that could give me a creative outlet. Something to look forward to everyday.

I spent more than two hours in Hobby Lobby that evening, carefully scanning the isles one by one. Wood working? Nah, too many tools. Building doll houses? No, what would I do when I finished? Painting? Well, I’m not very good at that.

Finally I made my way to the yarn isle and I remembered my mom telling me about how she used to crochet stuffed animals before I was even born. My sister was pregnant at the time with her first baby. A blanket was perfect I thought!

I went against my first instinct to try crochet. In my complete novice mind, knitting sounded much easier because “you get to have a tool in each hand”.

Boy was I wrong!

I left Hobby Lobby that day with one skein of yarn (yes, really, only one for a baby blanket) and a pair of knitting needles. I wish you could have seen the look on my husband’s face when he saw me sitting there on the couch with my laptop playing a tutorial on how to crochet the garter stitch (and the wonky twist of yarn emerging from my needles).

I was terrible at knitting. The stitches weren’t so bad but I had no clue how to fix my mistakes. So every time I made one little mistake, I frogged the entire thing and started all over. After starting all over for the seventh or eighth time, I decided that knitting wasn’t for me.

I didn’t want to give up on the idea of a yarn-related hobby. It was very affordable and portable. I could sit in the evenings and work on my projects and still spend time with my husband. Other hobbies that required a craft room or a work table just didn’t work for me at the time.

I remembered what my mom said about crocheting and I figured I should give it a try before giving up on yarn altogether. I went back to the craft store and left with my first crochet hook, a Boye size 5 mm.

Upon returning to YouTube, I stumbled upon the how to crochet series by Mikey of the Crochet Crowd. Yep, Mikey taught me how to crochet. I watched every single video in his series before returning to the idea of making my nephews baby blanket.

When I was ready, I picked up my (one skein) of yarn and started stitching away.  I found a tutorial on the basketweave stitch and thought that would be perfect for a new baby boy. The rest as they say is history. So what about that baby blanket? You may remember it as the basket weave baby blanket here on my website. I published the pattern when I finished it four years later.

Basket Weave Baby Blanket for Web

If you look close enough, you can see slight changes in color. This blanket taught me two important things,

  1. Blankets take much more than one skein of yarn and
  2. Dye lots matter.

I got off topic a bit there but I’ve never actually shared the story of how I started crocheting. It plays nicely though with the topic of this post. I too had to break free from the visual tools that taught me how to crochet.

Now Let’s get back on track.

Three Methods to Break Free From Visual Tools and Crochet Straight From a Pattern

The first thing you need is some good, old fashioned motivation. A pattern specifically that you’re just dying to recreate.

You probably had a pattern come to mind as soon as you read that. If so, that’s great! Let that be your motivation to push forward and learn to read a pattern once and for all.

If you don’t have a pattern in mind right now, that’s okay too! Spend the next hour or so on Pinterest or flip through some of your crochet magazines and find a pattern that gets you excited.

Once you have a pattern in hand, great! You’ve just completed the first step!

Method #1 : Find Motivation in a Pattern

The second method to breaking free from visual tools is to take that pattern and find ways to simplify it.

Playing with yarn color is usually the best way to do this. If your pattern has multiple colors of yarn, you’ll need to change them often and sometimes we can get caught up in the wording of this. What I recommend is to substitute for a yarn that changes colors for you. These are called variegated yarns.

You’ll want to use caution when substituting yarns. Be sure you choose a yarn that is the same weight as the yarn called for in the pattern.

Method #2: Simplify by Substituting Complicated Color Patterns with Variegated Yarn

The last method I recommend is to visualize, rewrite and draw the pattern before you even begin. Doing so will allow you to get a grasp on the concept and wrap your brain around the pattern. It will save you from the two big F’s, frogging and frustration.

I talked a bit about visualizing, rewriting and drawing the pattern out in an earlier blog post. I highly recommend you check that one out too. It’s been helping a lot of crocheters on their journey to reading patterns.

How I learned to Read Crochet Patterns In 5 Easy Steps

I’ve been studying the effects and benefits of visualization extensively for my upcoming book, Master Crochet Patterns. It completely changed my learning process and I a confident it will help you too.

Method #3: Visualize, Rewrite and Draw the Pattern Before You Even Begin

I know some of you just prefer to watch a YouTube video as opposed to reading a pattern. I completely get that! I’m not saying you should never follow a tutorial again (hey, I make a living off of YouTube tutorials!) but I am saying that in order to grow as a crocheter, max your potential and make items that you are truly proud of, you need to be able to read a crochet pattern.

Even though the root of my job here at B.hooked Crochet is to provide tutorials for you so that you can make some great projects, my number one priority is that you learn and understand crochet, even if it means you will no longer need me.

I want to see you succeed and experience the great sense of satisfaction that comes with completing that first project, your pattern from method one.

As always, I’m here to help you make that happen.

Bye for now,

Brittany copy

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