Can You Crochet From A Knitting Pattern?

Last Tuesday, a rather interesting question came up on Ravelry: could knitted toy patterns could be converted into a crochet patterns? Conventional wisdom says no, knitting and crocheting are simply too different to be able to translate patterns back and forth, but at least as far as toys are concerned, I thought it might be possible, and I will explain why in a moment. Actually, this question had piqued my curiousity so much, that I decided to do a little experiment to prove if it is in fact possible.

Knitting and crocheting are two very different beasts; and it isn't simply a matter of hook versus needles. From the way the stitches are formed and the methods used to create them to the way the fabric behaves, looks, and feels. Knit stitches are rectangular, wider than they are tall; for the most part, single crochet stitches are square. Stitch designs made using knitted stitches-- ribbing, cables, lace-- cannot be readily replicated in crochet and vice-versa.

This is why you probably couldn't convert a knitted lace shawl pattern into a crochet pattern. Crochet simply doesn't work that way.

However, knitted and crochet toys aren't all that different. Look at any toy pattern, knitted or crochet, and you will probably find the same basic instructions: start with a small number of stitches, increase a certain number of stitches in each round, work a number of rows without adding or subtracting stitches, and then decrease the number of stitches in each round until there is a small enough number of stitches to finish the piece off.

This is why you might be able to convert a knitted toy pattern into a crochet pattern. The methods used might be a little different, but the structure of the design remains the same.

There are going to be limitations, though. As I mentioned before, some techniques and stitch designs simply do not translate well back and forth. Anything that contains intricate shaping such as short rows, or used a textured stitch pattern probably won't work. But a pattern that is based upon a basic sphere design worked in stockinette stitch stands a good chance of surviving conversion.

At least, this is my idea based upon my knowledge of knitting and crocheting. But just because it sounds good in writing doesn't necessarily work in real life. Which means I needed to test out my theory.

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This is Experiment #1: The Tiny Chicken. I picked this pattern out because it was simple, quick, and free (in case anyone wants to try to replicate my experiment). You cast-on, increase, work plain, decrease, work plain a little more, and decrease again to finish off; and it works up in under an hour.

I tried to keep as close to the pattern as possible, especially when it came to stitch counts, but there are a few things that I had to take into consideration:

Some of the techniques used for the Tiny Chicken don't have a crocheted counterpart. The chicken's legs are i-cords-- a tiny number of stitches knitted in the round to make a small cord. With no crocheted i-cord, I had to improvise: I chained 13 sts (the number of rows worked in the i-cord plus a turning chain) and worked a row of single crochet. And instead of gathering the stitches together at the tips of the chicken's wings, I decreased the 4 stitches down to one on the last row.

Surprisingly, some techniques worked better in crochet. I find picking up stitches on a 3-D knitted object a bit tricky, but thanks to crocheting in the back loop only, picking up stitches for the wings and comb was a piece of cake.

Another problem I ran into was the size of the stitches. I don't mean that crocheted Tiny Chicken is about twice the size of a knitted Tiny Chicken worked in the same weight of yarn, although that is an important thing to keep in mind. Crochet stitches are proportioned differently than knitted stitches. Single crochet is more or less square, but a knit stitch is a bit shorter than it is wide. That means that if I worked the same number of rounds as the knitting pattern instructions, my Tiny Chicken would have been ridiculously tall. I very unscientifically worked only 3 of the 4 plain rounds in the pattern, and that seemed to work out about right. On a more scientific level, I would decrease the number of rounds worked by about 30-40%, because on average, a knit stitch is about two-thirds as tall as it is wide and also because working through the back loop only creates a slightly taller stitch than one worked through both loops.

Is he perfect? No. But it worked. I think part of the issue was how small Tiny Chicken was; 24 stitches at her widest. On such a small scale, the crochet stitches look very chunky. I'm planning on experimenting some more with larger projects at some point and see if the stitches end up looking more in proportion.

Overall, I consider my experiment a success. If you are willing to get creative and make some changes, you might just be able to turn that knitted softie into a crocheted cutie.

Posted by Amanda on
Sounds like a great experiment and looks great. Thought I would share this with you though, I found it last fall about how to crochet an icord. http://www.planetjune.com/blog/how-to-crochet-an-i-cord/comment-page-1/#comment-162285

I just love your blog and have been regularly stalking it.
Posted by Alyssa on
@Amanda:
Good find! It will be interesting to see how it sizes up to the crocheted amigurumi... it's possible it might need to be adusted by a stitch or a couple rows, but it's definitely something look into.
Thanks!
Posted by Maria on
Thank you for sharing your experiment. I'm glad I checked before attempting to do this. I knew there were differences between knit and crochet, so knowing what the shapes are compared to reach other is very helpful in figuring out the number of stitches to attempt this task. Now to work on my project. Hope it turns out lovely:) good luck to me!!! :-)
Posted by Maria on
Each not reach smh
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