Thursday, January 22, 2009

shhhh.... a secret!

I'll let you in on a little secret...

but don't tell anyone!

Actually, you can tell as many people as you like... since I KNOW that I am not alone with this problem...

I really, really, really struggle to follow crochet patterns. Knitting patterns are different... I can understand them easily... but crochet patterns give me a migraine, just thinking about them.

But that's going to change this year. I am determined to learn to read ANY and ALL patterns. I mean... I CAN READ and I CAN CROCHET, so now I just need to learn to use those two skills TOGETHER!

I'm starting out easy, with a CAL over at Ravelry. A CAL is a crochet-a-long, where everyone works from the same pattern at the same time. The beauty of it is, that if you encounter any sort of problems, there is an entire online community of people working on the EXACT same project, who can help out. Or who knows... maybe YOU will be the one to help someone else out. I also love seeing how differently everyone's projects turn out. They've used the same pattern, but personal taste leads to different yarn choices, and it's fascinating to see all the different variations people come up with. Sometimes it will inspire you to follow their lead, and other times it will help you realise that your original choices are going to look shocking! It's all good.

So, I've joined the 2009 12" crochet block a month CAL. Basically you work a 12" crochet block each month, and at the end of the year you assemble them to make an afghan. At the beginning of each month, you are given the next pattern. There is also an alternate block each month, if you prefer to use that... or a 6" option.

January's pattern is the Mandala by Chris Simon. If you are not a member at Ravelry, you can click here for the original pattern.

ravelry block 1 - mandala - 12"

So here is my square. As always, it is made entirely from recycled and reclaimed yarns. I've mostly used 8ply/DK weight. There are nine different colours in total. Using a 5.0mm hook, this piece came out at 11.5” square, so it only required a light blocking to bring it up to 12”. With all those colour changes, there were a bunch of ends to sew in... but it's worth it for the effect... and it's ONLY one block a month!

My colour details are

  • round 1 - dark burgundy
  • round 2 - peacock blue
  • round 3 - navy
  • round 4 - cream
  • round 5 - brown and white fleck
  • round 6 - maroon
  • rounds 7 & 8 - dark burgundy
  • round 9 - navy
  • round 10 - mid blue
  • round 11 - camel fleck
  • round 12 - river gum green
  • round 13 - dark burgundy

So the first square was a success. It took some fiddling around, but I expected that. Now I'm keen for the next one! Are any of you a part of this CAL already?

I'm also interested to hear how many of you also struggle with reading crochet patterns...


A Knitting Junkie said...

I am the same way. I learned crochet because I didn't want to be limited in my yarn projects. I can do all of the stitches, but following a crochet pattern is virtually impossible for me! Aaarrggg!
It's nice knowing I'm not alone.

Great job on the square; You go girl!

jkaymac said...

I'm doing this CAL too. Like you, I love seeing all of the creativity going into the same pattern. Have you tried reading patterns that have diagrams yet? I'm just starting to get the hang of that. I'm beginning to find it easier to read the diagram and then refer to the written instructions for clarification if I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

I joined the CAL but haven't started a square, because my stash is so sad! I need to get to frogging and dyeing...Your square is gorgeous.

I must say, I've never had a problem reading crochet patterns, but I taught myself from an instructional book I got at a big craft store, so I've never known any differently. Reading charts? Now, there's a different story! I'm learning, though.

kym said...

It took me a while to learn how to read patterns.

Great looking square.

Puglette said...

hi, i was in the CAL group but got nervous and dropped out. i don't know many stitches and i thought the first square was so fancy that i worried the following ones would be too difficult. i have tried looking for a beginner's CAL but haven't found anything.

Judith said...

I learnt myself from a book so I find patterns easy. The thing is I have not followed a diagram, now that looks complicated to me. One day I will try a diagram just to see. Keep up the good work, the block looks lovely.

whatsonox said...

I find diagrams easier but I don't have many patterns with diagrams. Sometimes I've drawn the pattern as a diagram before I start so I can get the idea of how it works.

And I often have to undo stuff because I realise it doesn't look right but at least you can do that with crochet. I can only knit simple rectangles so far because I'm just too worried about going wrong and having to undo stitches without dropping any.

Mind you, does knitting have the same language problem? I now have a US / UK conversion chart stuck inside my crochet file - to go with my UK to US cup conversion chart with my scribbled approximations of what things actually weigh and my UK to metric weight chart for cooking and even oven temperatures.

And I was still unable to help my daughter who is in a french school and so is doing sums in deciliters and hectometers!

Great square. I might join the CAL.

misha said...

For me, charts (diagrams) are waaaaay easier than verbal instructions. You just look at it and know immediately where you are and what your next step should be. No deciphering of what the designer meant, or where in the text you are. When I crochet something that has verbal instructions, I always spend more time finding where I am in the pattern than actually crocheting. Besides, you don't need to know the language - I've crocheted a bag and a scarf from a Japanese magazine, which would be unimaginable if there had been no chart. Of course, there are things you cannot draw but need to explain in language, so I guess the combination of the two is the best solution

laughing purple goldfish said...

a knitting junkie - thanks :) you are NOT alone... knitting patterns seem so simple and clear, but for some reason... crochet patterns can be super wordy, or not wordy enough... and I just get lost so easily in them!

jkaymac - isn't it fun? sometimes I barely recognise the pattern in the squares, because the yarn choices make such a difference to the visual effect... I haven't seriously looked at charts yet, but I think I should give them a go too

aimee - thanks... I look forward to seeing what you come up with :)

kym - thanks... I'm forcing myself to learn, because I know that a whole new world of possibilities will open up to me once I can efficiently read the patterns

puglette - hugs :) sweetie... give it a go... seriously... the stitches are all simple... chain, sc, dc, that's it... it only looks fancy because of the way they have been combined! honestly!

judith - I haven't attempted crochet charts yet either, but I know with knitting I find the charts much quicker and easier to read than the written instructions... you just take a quick glance and you can see what is happening, instead of having to wade through all those words!

whatsonox - one of the problems her in australia... is that we get both US and UK terminology being used... when I first tried to teach myself to crochet many years ago, I was using a UK pattern book and a US instruction book... but I didn't know they were different!!! no wonder I gave up in desperation! nothing came out looking like it should... it drove me insane!!!

misha - I can totally relate to getting lost in the words of a pattern... and I love the universality (is that even a word?) of crochet charts... now I just need to learn to read them :)

Crafty Gardener said...

A few years ago I joined a CAL for the same reason you did. It really helped having the support of others. And it helped solve the problem of reading patterns and tackling new stitches.

Anonymous said...

I learned to crochet from my Mom and as I learned the stitches she taught me how to read a pattern. She didn't use charts, and I don't use charts. I have looked at a few and will take the dive but I like the simplicity of seeing 2 dc rather than looking at spikes and counting how many cross lines are there so is that a double or a triple etc. And then there is the whole translating a picture into a word thing you have to do, with the patterns dc is easily and logically (for me)translated as double crochet and so on with the other stitches. I also like when you do a shell of some variation (or other combo stitch) when the pattern writer defines shell in a location like by the guage...for example a shell is 3 dc in a sc, or what ever the make up of that particular shell is.

Sometimes the pattern when reading it appears to not make sense, but when actually creating the stitches while reading it it all makes sense so I just have to force myself to stitch on and realize it will make sense and if not I can always undo.

Anabelle said...

I struggle! haha I'm working onf a little girls dress right now and boy oh boy is it tough! But i'm determined to get through it!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way..I usually just make up my own patterns. I would love to crochet socks but where would I start? Yikes!

I check out crochet and knitting books at the library to get ideas and then try to make my pattern to look some what like the idem?

I Love the square..could you give us more ways to find recycled yard?


Everyday Housewife said...

I have the same problem with reading crochet instructions, but I can follow a diagram easily. Japanese pattern books are the best, and you don't have to know Japanese to understand them. Just follow the diagram, and it works for knitting, too.

KMDuff said...

I braved the 6" CAL this month thanks to your beautiful squares and posts! Love your squares. :)

laughing purple goldfish said...

crafty gardener - excellent

wendyloohoo - I agree... force yourself to stitch on, and you an always undo if you need to... wise words... hands on learning

anabelle - gorgeous dress!

renee - me too! I'm always trying to do my own thing, because I don't want to tackle a pattern... but I can't write patterns if I can't read patterns... so I'm determined to learn

as for the recycled yarn, I'm always scouring the local charity stores for knitted garments and blankets which I can unravel... friends and family are a wonderful resource, too... let them know you are looking for garments to recycle and they will be happy to send them your way, when they next clean out their cupboards

everyday housewife - I definitely need to investigate charts some more

kmduff - woo hoo! glad to hear that you gave it a go... it's nice o work on a piece, knowing that 'technical support' is close by, should you happen to need it!

cats-rockin-crochet said...

It's ok to stay in a comfort zone, but it can limit us. I have only been able read a crochet pattern for a little over a year now. It opened up my world to many crochet adventures, good luck and I'm sure there are many who ae willing to help you.

laughing purple goldfish said...

cat - thanks... now I know who to go to when I get stuck!