Crocheting for four months: looking back

Brian and I began crocheting in January. I don’t recall the exact date, but  I would wager it was about halfway through the month. This probably means I’m a week or so away from having been crocheting for a third of the year. In this time I’ve made a number of scarves, mittens, hearts, cat crowns, an amigurumi Yoda, a dish cloth, and completed a few other projects that are birthday presents so haven’t been talked about in full on the blog yet. Brian and I have spoken about storage solutions, working with a stitch n’ bitch group, teaching others, crocheting at a happy hour, or first yarn festival and over all talked about our general experiences crocheting. We’ve made some friends in the online community, and gotten some great comments from readers on the blog.

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At this point in our crochet experience I’ve very happy with the blog, with the projects I’ve completed and the support Brian and I have gotten. The response I’ve gotten from giving my projects as gifts has been very rewarding. I’ve been learning new skills, and in the last four months I’ve made more things out of my own two hands than I have in a number of previous years. I’m very glad I’ve picked up the hobby and that Brian and I are documenting our journey. I’m also grateful for the new skills I’ve learned, and the general learning curve associated with the craft.

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With all of the above positives, this new hobby of ours hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine. Some of my projects have ended in epic failure – like my first dish cloth. Others have been destroyed by the resident three year old of the house – Emily; RIP Yoda. Happy hour has impaired my ability to complete some of the projects I’ve worked on when I would have liked to see them completed – okay that one’s all my fault – #TDTC. More than once I’ve been very frustrated with the instructions on new projects.

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I’ve mentioned this frustration with my attempt to do the clover dishcloth in the past. However my frustration with instructions has been one of the most frequent hindrances to my crochet over the past four months. I’ve found that there are a number of  issues that might lead to me raising my left eyebrow and asking myself, “WTF”? Initially, the notations themselves were very intimidating. I’m VERY grateful to report that this is going away. New notation will cause me to raise my eyebrows and look up a stitch, but once I’ve used the notation before I’ve gotten accustomed to it. Naturally there is a learning curve, but as I was first picking up patterns they seemed very unwelcoming to the novice in the craft. Recently the POP (popcorn stitch) with Yoda, the picot stitch in the cat crown and the CC (contrasting color?) on the triceratops I’m working on for Emily’s birthday.

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This leads me to my next point – abbreviations that are not defined in the book. I’m not suggesting that INC (increase) and DEC (decrease) necessarily need to be in an abbreviation section – they are pretty on the nose after all. However the CH (chain), SC (single crochet) and HDC (half double crochet) abbreviations are equally obvious, but I habitually see them being defined. The inconstancy in published books is a little frustrating, and makes me feel like no one bothered to take the time to review a crochet book. As someone who spent his money to buy said book, this is much more frustrating than the inconsistency.

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I’ve seen patterns where the picture with the pattern do not match. You’ll notice that in the picture the last several rows of the mittens are in a single color. When you look at the instructions, you’ll notice that the alternating color should continue until the end. Compare them to the mittens I made using this pattern. Again this seems like sloppy, unedited work from something that I bought at a retailers.

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The final point I’ll make on paid patterns is that they are not always double checked for errors. Let’s take the triceratops I’m working. The Frill section asks one to join yarn to the loop left in row 19 of the head. When looking at row 19 there is no stitch that would leave a loop, or mention of a frill loop. However if we look at row 21 of the head, one will see that there are 33 stitches that are BLO (back loop only) – this would leave the front loop for the frill to connect to. Row one of the frill wants 8 increases, and ends with 41 stitches – I assume that the pattern meant to ask for the frill to join with row 21 and it’s 33 BLO stitches. But wait … this still wouldn’t work. A front loop would have left the other end of the yarn on the exterior of the circle, the outside of the head. The back loop left the other end of the yarn on the inside with the stuffing. Perhaps I should have flipped the head inside out, but the instructions also ask for the head to be stuffed as your working it. … I’ve sufficiently belabored the point here, the instructions clearly weren’t double checked. Again this was a book that has a publisher and had to be purchased.

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At four months in I’m surprised with how frequent these pattern problems have arisen. Brain has talked about “knit envy” – I’m not sure if these kinds of mistakes are frequent in the knitting world, but I’m also feeling a bit marginalized as a crocheter. It feels like the industry is willing to publish patterns to make a dollar, but isn’t willing to make sure that they are well edited.

I don’t want to end on a negative note. While these issues are surprisingly frequent, they are not in the majority of patterns I have worked with. I am having a great time crocheting and sharing these experiences with you all. I think I’ve made great personal progress over the past 4 months and I look forward to continuing with my personal crochet journey. I’m also looking forward to making some foxes for a fundraiser latter this year – more on that soon.

I would like to end with a handful of questions and request that people answer as many as they’d like. Do the knitters who read this blog notice these kind of errors? Crocheters who have been doing this a while, what do you normally do when you notice issues with published work? Is there a standard protocol to let the editors know? Finally, what do you remember about being four months into the craft? I look forward to hearing from all of you!

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5 thoughts on “Crocheting for four months: looking back

  1. back to front here: I don’t remember a whole hell of a lot, since with knitting I was still 6 years old and that’s… well, it’s been a good while 😉 For crochet, I don’t honestly remember either because I’ve been learning off and on for a few years now.

    As suggested above, check to see if errata are available (ravelry’s a pretty good place to check and you can also look for groups there that can help. Crochet-alongs (CAL’s) are also good for that, so if you’re working a pattern, see if there is one on the site for it and check them out for pointers.

    And finally, yes, knitting patterns have them, too. I find that, be it with crochet or knitting, a lot of patterns and even books are self-published and not all designers have a system in place for getting their projects done by other people before putting it up for sale. To them, it all makes sense because they know what they intended and therefore don’t always see something is wrong or missing (hey, it works that way with writing, too, trust me, I know).
    Ravelry is again a great place to go through here. You can usually contact the designer directly through their pattern page ad ask for help if you can’t figure out what to do or are unable to find errata. Most of the time, they will welcome the feedback and they’ll help you out. It might take a while because not everyone’s glued to their screens (like me), but generally it’s a useful way to go about it.
    Oh, and you could always see if there are designers you like, if they have their own groups. I know several (knitting, sorry) who do, and they will put calls out for people to test their patterns. Usually it’s either “first come, first served”, or it depends on the criteria. Once, I was able to get in on a trial precisely because I was a novice and they wanted to make sure the pattern made sense to someone who wasn’t used to reading patterns (while I’ve been knitting for years and years, it’s only in the past… however long ravelry’s been around that I’ve learned to actually use patterns).

    Also, guys, you made me blush. Thank you 🙂 I’m having fun following your escapades 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Naelany,
      Thank you for the detailed response. Making you blush wasn’t one of my goals … But I’ll certainly take it 🙂
      I’m glad to know these kind of errors aren’t exclusive to crochet. I’m sorry you have to deal with them too knitters.
      I’ll certainly have to spend more time looking both at website and on Ravelry. I know many of the patterns from books I have, Edward’s Menagerie for instance, also have the patterns up on Ravelry. It’s great to hear that most people are receptive to hearing that their patterns aren’t being understood.

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  2. Have you checked to see if there is errata available? Most yarncraft publishers will have pattern corrections for their publications (some even have them as a PDF download, so you can just print it out and add it to your book), but most will not call attention to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Talya, it hasn’t dawned on me to check for errata. However, that is excellent advice! I’ll have to check out their websites. If I do find the errata I’ll be sure to mention it in an upcoming post.

      Liked by 1 person

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