Friday, January 21, 2011

Crochet Basics - The Pattern

Whether you're a newbie or a pro in crochet, you would always need a pattern in making your project. It is like your road map to success. Aside from the instructions, a crochet pattern also lists the important things that you should know before starting your project, most of which are the following:

Experience Level
A crochet pattern will let you know how easy or difficult a certain project will be. It will indicate if a certain design is for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced crocheters. Knowing your level of experience and paying attention to the level of difficulty of a certain pattern contributes much to the success of your project.

Materials and Tools
A crochet pattern will list all the materials and tools, including the hook size, and the exact type and approximate length of the yarn needed to create the project. Most patterns will also indicate the brand of the yarn they used. You may want to ensure that you buy enough yarns to complete the whole project as sometimes it's inevitable that your craft store may not have the same type of yarn when you come back to them. This will save you a lot time and effort, as well as frustration, from going back and forth to the craft store.

Stitch List
A crochet pattern will list all the stitches used to create the project and will also give instructions for stitches that have special variations from the standard ones.

Abbreviations, Symbols and Punctuation Marks
If you're a beginner in crochet, you may notice that a crochet pattern is written in a language that's hard to decipher, forbidding and may appear daunting, but don't get discouraged! They are really just abbreviations, punctuations and symbols that crochet patterns use for simplicity and convenience. In no time, you'll find yourself becoming familiar with them.

Some punctuations that you'd commonly find in crochet patterns are the following:

  • * Asterisk is used to specify a point of repeat.
Example: Make 1dc into the ring, *ch1, 2dc in ring*. Repeat from * to * twice more.
--> After making a ring, work one double crochet. Work 1 chain and 2 double crochets and then repeat this process two more times. Remember that you'd only need to repeat the instructions that are enclosed in the asterisk.
  • ( ) Parenthesis is used to enclose a set of instructions and may be used for explanatory texts.
Example: (1dc, ch1, 2dc) in the next ch sp.
--> Put all the four stitches in the next chain space.
  • [ ] Brackets are used to enclose instructions within a parenthesis.
Example: [ch 3 (1hdc, 1dc, 1hdc) in the next ch sp] two times.
--> Work 3 chains, 1 half double crochet, 1 double crochet, 1 half double crochet in the next chain space, and then work another 3 chains, 1 half double crochet, 1 double crochet, 1 half double crochet in the next chain space.

The stitch tension for every crochet project varies from person to person, from day to day, and may also be affected by a person's mood. That's why every crocheter should work on achieving the gauge for projects that he/she would want to create. Gauge is mostly important in crochets that require fitting such as a skirt, a top, or a hat. For other simpler projects such as a simple shawl or scarf, gauge is not so critical.

A crochet gauge is measured by stitches or rows of stitches per length. If you want your crochet to match the size intended for your project, you must create a gauge sample, using the same yarn and hook that you plan to use for your project.

Start by crocheting a same set of stitches measuring at least 4 x 4 inches (10 x 10 cm). You can then compare your sample gauge to the measurements stated in the pattern. If your sample is smaller than the stated gauge, make another sample using a larger hook. If your sample is larger, then make another one using a smaller hook. You may also want to choose another yarn. It's quite imperative that you make a sample for every single project that you make requiring a gauge. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Aside from making a sample, you can also check on how your finished fabric feels in your hand. If it feels too tight or too loose, it's possible that you haven't achieved the gauge intended for your project. If this happens, and you don't mind that your project is larger or smaller than the one indicated in the pattern, you may continue with 'your' gauge with the hook and yarn you are using. Just take note that you might need more yarn to complete your project.

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