7 Tips for Freehanding a Crochet Project

Did you know that most of professional crochet designs are just freehanded? What I mean is, I just sit down and start experimenting with stitches. I think this is a skill that every crocheter should be familiar with. After all, sticking to patterns your whole life can get boring…so let’s talk about freehanding!

freehanded crochet circle

Why Freehand

I came across a reddit thread recently, and in it several crocheters were talking about freehanding. They made an important point: that if you just rely on patterns your whole life, you never understand the “why” behind them.

Of course, one of my missions at Desert Blossom Crafts is to bring explain that “why” behind my patterns and tutorials. So this topic excites me!

In the following tips, I’ll give you some tips for freehanding your projects. As you read it, make sure you’re not just thinking about the action steps, but also your mindset while you crochet!

We’ll dive into this more below.

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Tips for Freehanding Crochet Projects

1. Think in Methods, Not Patterns

One of the biggest mistakes crocheters make is just blindly following patterns without thinking about the WHY behind it.

So before you even start freehanding, you’ll want to start having a curious mindset while crocheting.

When you’re following a pattern, don’t just blindly do what it says.

Think about:

  • WHY are the stitches this way?
  • HOW do they create this flat surface?
  • WHEN does this pattern increase to create a perfect triangle?

Questions like this go a long way. The more you’re paying attention to how the nitty gritty things work, the easier it will be when you try to freehand a project.

2. Just Start!

Don’t let fear hold you back. You don’t have to have a certain “level” of preparedness before you freehand something.

At times, you just have to jump in! Grab a yarn and hook that you know go well together and start crocheting.

freehanded crochet lace shawl
a lace shawl that I “freehanded”

3. Pick a Stitch

One of the next things you’ll have to do is determine the stitch you’re going to use. You have 2 options here.

You can either use a pre-made stitch from a website, stitch dictionary, etc. (which is totally fine by the way! Lots of designers even do this).

OR – you can come up with a stitch on your own. This takes some trial and error, but it is how I’ve designed most of my lace patterns.

I choose a few simple stitches (usually double crochet, single crochet and chains) and I just start putting them together in different ways.

Maybe I do 3 double crochet, then skip 2 stitches and chain 2. To create a truly unique stitch, you want to start with some sort of base row and then build on it in the following rows.

Really, this all comes down to experimentation! If you’re designing the stitch, make sure you do a small swatch (square) before starting the actual project. You want to be able to take it out if something goes wrong over a small repeat, not a large one.

Remember that shawl picture above? I freehanded that! I started off knowing I wanted a lace stitch. To start, I made a row of double crochet. Then I started adding chains and shells.

I wanted the shawl to lay flat, so as the lace motif gradually got bigger, I made less chains separating the lace and double crochets. The result was what you see below!

sunset lace shawl

4. Determine Your Project, and Study it

Once you’ve picked your stitch, its time to pick your project! The second part of this point is even more important – study that project.

If you’re making a scarf – how wide is common? What yarns are good for scarves?

Scarves are pretty simple since they’re a rectangle, but other projects are harder.

For sweaters – what are the methods available for me to use? Which one would work best with my chosen stitch?

5. Use Patterns as a Guide, but Don’t Copy

When you’re studying the makeup of other projects, be careful. You can use other patterns as a guide, but you should never copy someone else’s design.

Of course, it can be hard to know where this “line” is. Sometimes when you’re looking at the method, you can go “oh I’ll use this method too but with a different design!”

At times that is okay, but it is easy to go too far, so be careful.

One last note on this: there is also a difference if you’re going to be publishing a pattern or not.

If you’re NOT planning to publish the pattern, then sure, you could make someone else’s design in order to learn their method, add your own twist, etc.

6. Don’t be Afraid of Math

I said it…you will often need to use math. I’m not a math person, but I have had to use math more in my crocheting than I ever thought possible.

Math can be used to make sure your increases are evenly spaced…

To make sure your triangle shawl will lay flat…

To size a pattern up or down…

You get the gest. If something is curling weird or the fabric is not doing what you want it to do, it might be a math issue. You might just need to adjust the amount of stitches you’re working, or something similar.

7. Be Willing to Make Mistakes

When you’re freehanding, you don’t have a blueprint. I know that’s why some people stick to patterns only.

But I think that freehanding is a blessing because how do we learn best? Through mistakes.

You will make mistakes when you’re freehanding, but it will make you a better crocheter in the end – because you’re understand the WHY behind what you’re doing. And I think that’s awesome!


I hope this guide to freehanding crochet projects has been helpful to you. Always remember that its a journey, and you won’t get there overnight! Start by freehanding some projects, and pretty soon you’ll be able to design lots of different items!


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Happy Crocheting!

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