Knitting patterns can’t be used stitch-for-stitch as crochet patterns, but they can be used as inspiration for shapes, colors, textures. Translating a design intended for one needlecraft into use for another takes a bit of patience, skill, and trial and error.
- Can you change a knitting pattern to crochet?
- Which patterns lend themselves the best?
- Stress-free ways to be inspired by knitted items!
- How to reinvent a knitted design successfully
Can you change a knitting pattern to crochet?
Knitting patterns don’t translate directly into crochet for several reasons:
- Crochet stitches are bigger than knit stitches. So if you replace every stitch in a knitting project with the closest equivalent crochet stitch, the crocheted result will be much bigger than the knitted result.
- Crochet stitches are taller than knit stitches. Even the shortest crochet rows – such as those worked in waistcoat stitch, which is even also known as knit stitch – are proportionately taller than a row of knitting.
- Crochet is more rigid. Or in other words, it doesn’t drape or hang against the body in quite the same way.
- Knitting is stretchier. This means a knitting pattern that relies on stretching a little to fit accurately (like socks, or a lot of sweater patterns) may not fit properly when worked in crochet.
- Increasing and decreasing work differently. This is a big one for me. Increases and decreases in knitting always lean to the left or right, and knitting patterns are designed with this in mind. Increases and decreases in crochet don’t lean, and crochet patterns reflect that. Adjusting for this has always be the final nail in the coffin when I’ve tried to use knitting instructions for crochet projects before.
The general rule
So, it generally wiser to use knitting patterns for knitting, and crochet patterns for crochet. On this page you can see how a knitting and crochet pattern for the same project (the Flock tote bag) produce different results. The pattern is repeated 2.5 times across the front of the knit version, and only 1.5 times on the front of the crochet version, even though they are the same size. The crochet version will also cost you 50% more in materials! This company understands that to produce a similar item in either knit or crochet, requires two different patterns.
Which knitting patterns lend themselves to being made in crochet?
In short, ones which don’t involve counting stitches! Such as
- Wrist warmers
- Leg warmers
- Some hats
- Flat pouches
- Some boxy cardigans
- Scatter cushion covers
And finally, almost anything made out of patchwork – when Harry Styles went viral wearing a patchwork knit jumper in 2020, crochet interpretations of it sprang up all over social media.
These items work because they are all assembled from flat shapes. Rather than converting a knitting pattern stitch-for-stitch, you could make a swatch of crochet in your chosen yarn, and then use the dimensions of the swatch to calculate the number of crochet stitches to make the same sized shapes.
Patterns to avoid
On the other hand, it’s best to work the following items in the technique the instructions were intended for:
- Fitted cardigans
- Bikini tops and bralettes
- Romper suits
These all rely on increasing and decreasing the number of stitches in each row to achieve a properly fitting three-dimensional piece.
Stress-free ways to be inspired by knitting patterns
Just because you prefer a hook to needles doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by patterns created for knitters though. Here’s how to take the best bits and make them your own:
- Get fired up by color and pattern. Is the most eye-catching thing about that knitting pattern actually the way it mixes beautiful hand dyed yarns in kingfisher blue and burnt orange? You don’t need a knitting pattern to do that! Choose another one and get busy!
- Mimic texture. Lots of textures from knitting have close alternatives in crochet. Buy or borrow a stitch encyclopedia to see just how much is possible.
- Get enthused to try new skills. Mosaic crochet produces intricate and visually striking designs which are reminiscent of fair isle knitting. But the patterns are constructed quite differently. Rather than trying to convert a fair isle knitting pattern directly into crochet, celebrate that crochet has a beautiful alternative in its own right.
Converting knitting patterns to crochet
If you do really want to challenge yourself to work a knitting pattern in crochet, here are the tools you will need to get started:
- A variety of hooks, so you can test gauge
- A stitch measurement ruler
- Graph paper and/or a notebook to record all your observations
- A stitch encyclopedia (optional)
- Yarn or wool in the correct weight
Make many swatches
Using the same size of hook with your yarn as the knitting-needles size, will not produce the same gauge on your swatch. You will probably need to make several gauge swatches before you figure out what the right hook and stitch combo are, to get the effect you want. Remember that crochet stitches are taller than knit stitches. So you might have to reduce the number of stitches in your foundation chain by 30%, and the number of rows by 40%, for example.
As you begin to crochet, take copious notes on what you are doing – what is working, what isn’t, what you did there, in that spot, because guaranteed, if you put the project down for a few days, you will not remember exactly what all the steps were. Some pattern makers video themselves working so they can refer back to what they did.