What would it be like if you could paint with yarn? Would the yarn flow from your fingertips in the way that paint flows onto canvas? Would colors and shapes appear at the stroke of a crochet hook and would you be able to break rules like a true artist? Pablo Picasso is credited with saying, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” Once you’ve learned the “rules” of crochet, the doors to freeform crochet are wide open.
With freeform crochet, you need to set your patterns aside so you can step into your creativity. Leave all the rules at the door and open your mind to the potential of the yarn at hand. There are no rules, no patterns needed and you get to decide what you want to create. Working in freeform crochet means constructing a piece that is as unique as yourself — one that uses up leftover yarn, incorporates a variety of stitch patterns and fibers and uses multiple techniques to pull it all together. The magic of combining different yarn weights and materials comes to life in each freeform design.
Freeform crochet stretches the imagination beyond the norm and allows the crocheter to be spontaneous. The final result can be art, functional art or both. The most important idea behind freeform crochet is to be able to have fun and to express yourself.
However, because freeform crochet doesn’t require a pattern, it can be intimidating. The blank canvas before you (open air) and the techniques you’ve mastered (tucked in your mind) and random yarn in hand can be paralyzing if you’re used to structured crochet patterns. All of a sudden, the decisions are made solely by you and there is no pattern to tell you when you’ve made a mistake because there are no mistakes. Take that leap into the unknown and begin with an idea in mind but not necessarily a full-fledged plan. Perhaps sketch out your ideas, yarn colors and stitches that inspire you and see what you come up with. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and practice becoming comfortable with your own skills. Some of the most beautiful pieces of artwork started with a
“mistake” and grew into masterpieces.
Want to experience freeform crochet but with a pattern? Check out Quinny Zhang’s Dare to Dream Afghan which was crocheted freeform and the pattern was written afterwards. Her design will shed light on the process and let you feel how freeform crochet begins and flows throughout the design.
Can you believe this was her first freeform project? Originally completed in 2015, Zhang’s previous exposure to freeform crochet came from practicing a basic freeform chart included in an article — and look at the incredible design she was able to accomplish! When beginning this project, she had just a single vision: blue skies and white clouds. She saw potential in building upon freeform circles to achieve this idea. It was only later that the idea of a rainbow became a reality. Inspiration can come from many places and in this case, it was a crocheted dress with a Russian pattern. Freeform crochet can also be used to expand upon a design you cannot create because of a language barrier. Like I said earlier, freeform crochet really opens up doors.
I’d love to see your freeform crochet beginnings and encourage you along the way. Be sure to join the I Like Crochet Happy Hour Facebook group and share your photos, freeform or not. Happy freeform crocheting!