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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Advice On Reading Crochet Patterns - 7 Tips

I'm writing this, assuming you have already learned to crochet. If you have not learned, a good place to start is at www.LearnToCrochet.com. Another idea would be to look at the numerous youTube videos out there on "How To Crochet", especially if you are a visual person. I'm not teaching you to crochet here, but am giving you some tips I have learned along the way, that will make it a little less stressful. If you are wanting help with the basics, please read Jean Leinhauser 's article on "How To Crochet" at the Yarn Standards website. It is excellent, with very clear diagrams.
Please see my 7 tips below that may help as you learn to read a pattern.

How I Learned To Crochet
I learned to crochet in 1968, back when long vests with fringe were so popular. Tbis was such a fun, "groovy" time and I was thrilled when crochet came back into style around 2004, after about a 30 year absence. I am amazed that so many of the same styles of that time such as newsboy caps, ponchos, long vests, fringe, bell sleeves, etc are so popular now. I learned to crochet in a class at college and actually taught myself from looking at a book because I was too shy to go up to the front of the class to gather around the teacher's desk as she was showing the other 30 girls. I'm glad I did that though, because it taught me how to follow a pattern. So many people who crochet don't know how to follow a pattern because their mother or grandmother just "showed" them. So most who learned that way never tried to learn how to read a pattern and all they ever do is make afghans, scarves or washcloths. If you are one of those persons who has been frustrated trying to follow a pattern, please read on.

1. Where To Find Corrections If You Suspect There's An Error
To me, reading a crochet pattern is not only fun, but is challenging, as well. If you get stuck on something and no matter how hard you try and can't figure it out, just ask a more experienced friend.  Something else to remember is that there might even be an error. So no matter how many hours you spend trying to figure it out, you may never be able to. Some may be very minor, but there are errors in most patterns. I never even thought about that back when I was learning. Don't let that discourage you though, because some errors in patterns are easy to figure out without getting help from someone. This is especially true with today's very detailed charts or diagrams.

2. Do What Looks Right or Contact the Designer
If it seems impossible to figure out, please don't give up! If you don't have anyone to help you, that's when you should either "do what looks right" or look for errata on the web. If you can't find corrections for a particular pattern at the publisher's or designer's website, you can usually contact one of them personally and ask if there's an error, and they should help you. There's something to keep in mind though. Most of the time, people who ask me about one of my patterns are inexperienced. I never ignore these people, because not only do I really want to help them, but I have a reputation to keep. I have had numerous crocheters tell me (after asking for help), that most designers won't "give them the time of day"! And if they do answer they wil say "you'll have to ask the publisher about that". As a designer, I can't imagine doing that! The publisher will then just have to contact the designer, so why bother the publisher? Even though it's stressful sometimes, because of deadlines in the design business, I still try to help. I might tell them there are no errors in that pattern and if I can help, I will. I might even ask if they know someone who can look at their work up close along with the pattern. But I have to be honest about something. If they are asking about a pattern I designed 5-10 years ago, I most likely will not know how to help them. Sometimes my own patterns look like Greek to me and in order for me to help them, I would have to make that garment or accessory all over again myself to know what they are talking about. And for sure if I can't see their work, it's just too difficult for me to help, especially because I am such a busy person. I might have a heart to help, but sometimes I can't. That's why if you have a more experienced friend to help you, it's always best to go that route first before asking the designer. We just don't have those older patterns fresh in our minds. I even get confused on my patterns I wrote just 2-3 years ago! But that's only because I am reading an exerpt from the pattern. Reading the whole thing as you are making it from the beginning, makes a big difference. That leads me to another bit of advice on reading patterns.

3. Don't Read Ahead!
Whatever you do, please do NOT read the whole pattern ahead before you start it! This is very, very important! I'm saying this because it can save you from a lot of headaches! Some might think reading ahead is a wise thing to do, but I say no, no! And here's why. I can't tell you how many people have written me asking for help on a pattern saying there's an error or it doesn't make sense. Then I spend hours trying to look over what they have written, comparing it to my original pattern. This takes a lot of time and is even confusing to me, but I still want to try and help. If I find out they read the pattern ahead before even starting it, and I can't help them, I tell them to just start working the pattern. They have always written me to apologize because once they started working it, things made sense to them! I am an experienced crocneter who has been crocheting for 49 years and a pattern never makes sense to me if I read it ahead of time! You can save so much time and frustration by not reading ahead.

4. Find Help On the Intenet!
Since we have the internet today, there's no excuse for not looking these things up, (such as the designer) on Ravelry or other sites. And don't forget youTube! There are tremendous resourcses there! You can actually watch someone work a partucular stitch that you might be having problems with. Stop each frame as you work if it's going too fast for you.

5. Ask An Experienced Crocheter for Help
I learned to crochet back when there was no help. I felt kind of alone. After I left college, I didn't know anyone else who could crochet, so I'd spend hours on trying to figure out a pattern, but I was determined! Then after I got married and moved from the south to Ashtabula, Ohio with my husband, I found several ladies who could crochet, at the church I was attending. Most were much older than me and had a lot of crochet knowledge.  We met regularly, every month, in each other's homes to work on crochet. All these years later, I give these ladies credit as someone who helped me on the road to becoming a professional designer!  There was only one who had not passed away after I started having my patterns published in 2005 and she was the only one I could thank for the patience and knowledge I learned from them all those years ago in the early 70's.

6. What If The Pattern Is Old and In A Vintage Book or Magazine?
If you are one of those people who loves to collect vintage pattern books and magazines from the 50's, 60's and 70's, like me, you'll probably be out of luck trying to find corrections. This would be the time you do what looks right or ask a more experienced person. I have over 300 old books and magazines from those eras, and even though I don't have time to make any of the patterns, I have a blast looking through them!
I started a blog post on my vintage crocnet books but never finished it. I need to do that! If you are interested in this, you can purchase those old books on eBay and other sites. It's a fun hobby!

7. Learning Crochet Language is A Necessity!
And finally, one of the most important things you should do is to learn crochet language. If you're new at this, start by learning what the abbreviations mean. A good source is at the Craft Yarn Council HERE. That will help tremendously. I've had many people ask me something simple that they could have found on the internet or in a crochet book. This step is absolutely essential if you are wanting to design your own patterns. You may be able to write down your instructions so that they are clear enough for a friend to understand, but there is certain crochet language you will be required to go by if submittimg a pattern to a magazine or book for publication. Each has their on style, but it's not difficult to learn or understand. For instance, one publisher may want you to say (when describing a purse), "12"x 10", without handles", but another publisher might require you to write "12" x 10", excluding handles". Another example is one may say "Finish off", but another may say " End off". You will know what each publisher requires by reading their Guidelines or by simply looking at written patterns in their magazines.

Another excellent source for learning to read a crochet pattern is at Anie's HERE.

I hope these tips have helped! If you think I should add anything that will help someone in following a pattern, please let me know and I will add it!

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