Saturday, April 5, 2014

What's Involved in Designing Crochet Patterns?

Documentation shows that crochet dates back to 16th century France and most likely developed as an offspring of the ancient Chinese needlecraft known as tambouring. Although evidence of crochet goes back to medieval times, I envision Neanderthal women gathered around the fire each evening after the little ones were all tucked snugly into their cave beds. I can hear the fire crackling and see the stress melt from their faces as they share their creations made from carved bone hooks and homespun yarn, while chat about the happenings of the day. Maybe that's just my writer's imagination getting away with me, but I've got to believe that crochet has been around longer than 500 years.

Because it's been around for a while and many stitches and patterns have already been created, I don't know how likely it is that we're creating crochet stitches and patterns that no one has ever thought of before. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't go on creating. We may only develop different variations or add our own twist to things. We might excitedly believe that we've invented something completely new...only to discover that someone else has posted the same thing on Pinterest. Yet for those of us who have creativity coursing through our veins, designing, developing and creating are as important to us as are breathing, eating and sleeping.

According to actor John Cleese, "Creativity is not a talent; it's a way of operating". I wholeheartedly agree. Each one of our lives is infused with creativity, even if those creative moments, ideas and outlets look nothing like anyone else's. There's creativity in the making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as much as there's creativity in the making of a new crochet blanket design. Most of you probably know the process involved in making a sandwich, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the creative process of designing crochet patterns before offering you some suggestions of how you can begin creating your own crochet designs and patterns.

Everything in existence started with an idea. Inspired thought and need are the springboards from which many of my creations are born, like the Scrapbuster Crochet Cat Toys I made for my furry friends so they would be entertained (and so I could use up some leftover yarn). Despite how it begins or ends, my crochet design process tends to go something like this:
  1. An idea is born based on a need I want to fulfill or from inspiration. Inspiration comes from fashion photos, nature, from yarn play and from other crocheters.
  2. Being the writer/researcher that I am, I immediately search the internet to see what others have made. Sometimes I find dozens of similar designs and that may lead me to alter my ideas. Most of the time, I like my ideas for specific reasons and go with my gut throughout the design process.
  3. My supplies are gathered, and I begin to write out the pattern as I envision it. Along the way, I'll alter the written instructions to correspond with any changes I make.
  4. I crochet, crochet, crochet...sometimes unraveling two, three or four times during the process. This is not the most fun part of the process, but it's necessary to end up with a beautiful, functional finished product. Keywords: beautiful and functional. One without the other will generally lead to a yarny object that sits unused in the closet or hidden on a shelf. I think crochet items should be used and enjoyed repeatedly.
  5. Throughout the process I photograph and take notes, documenting the entire design process and pattern creation.
  6. Finally, the most joyous step of all...the Big Reveal. I love showing, sharing and using the crochet items I design. One of the things I love most about the crochet community is how supportive and enthusiastic everyone is about each others work.
Some of My Crochet Designs
So, You'd Like to Try Your Hand at Designing a Crochet Pattern 

First of all, congratulations! Secondly, breathe in, breathe out. It's a lot of fun and, dare I say that once you design one crochet item, you're bound to do it again and again. Here are my recommendations to you:
  1. Start with a crochet item you're already very familiar with. If you've made a lot of hats or love to make scarves, it makes sense to have your very first pattern design be one of these. You're familiar with the crochet process, your stitch options, yarn choices and possible embellishments. Go with what you know.
  2. Determine who you're designing for. If you want to make something for a specific person, size may come into play and will impact your design. 
  3. Choose your crochet supplies. To be honest, there have been times when I've created designs based on yarn I've found. But, most often, I have an idea first and then find the yarn for it.  This is where you'll decide if you want to use a cotton yarn, like Deramores DMC Natura Just Cotton yarn which comes in 50 different scrumptious colors, or something a favorite acrylic. You'll choose the hook size you feel is best and gather any other supplies needed.
  4. Sketch, doodle or write your ideas. They are likely to evolve before and during the design process, but keep documenting your ideas, thoughts and steps in the manner that suits you best. If you save this for after your crochet item is completed, you run the risk of forgetting bits and pieces or of feeling overwhelmed by the process of backtracking. It's so much easier to document along the way. 
  5. Begin to crochet. Using your ideas or pictures and the prior knowledge you've accumulated while crocheting other items, begin crocheting your design. If it doesn't look as you envisioned or isn't working, unravel back to the last point you were happy with and try again with an altered version of your plan.  Trial and error is the best way to learn when designing.
  6. Be patient with yourself, focusing on your accomplishments instead of your mistakes. This is a biggy because, if you allow your mistakes to get you down, you're not likely to ever design another crochet item again. When I designed a poncho recently I miscalculated the measurements and ended up having to unravel the entire project...all 5000 double-crochet and V-stitches.  I could have been devastated, but instead I chose to focus on how beautiful I knew my poncho would be once I made it correctly. (And it was worth it; I wear it all the time and get lots of compliments.)
  7. Celebrate with a "ta-dah" moment or "big reveal".  Your creation is finished! It may or may not be perfect, but it's yours and you designed it. Display or wear it proudly, knowing that you have indeed accomplished something special. 
 At this point in my crochet journey, I design more than half of the things I make. I guess you could say that designing has become as addictive to me as the act of crocheting itself. I encourage you to give crochet pattern designing a go. Start small or wherever you feel comfortable and don't be afraid to ask for help or input here or within your favorite crochet community.

Have you tried designing your own crochet pattern and items? What have you created? If not, what would you like to design and what inspired your idea? I look forward to hearing from you and am happy to have you reading this blog entry which is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK's number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

"It's Finally Friday Link-a-Long", Theme: Springtime Smiles

Welcome, Everyone, to this week's Go Crochet Crazy #LinkParty ! This week's theme is Springtime Smiles and I want to invite you to share anything homemade or handmade that made you smile while you worked on it or brought a smile to the face of the recipient. I'm thrilled to welcome the month of April and all the springtime promises that come with it!

Share your blogs, Pinterest pin, or linkable image of homemade/handmade items that fall under the categories of crochet or other yarn creations, crafts, home & gardening, DIY, cooking and decor. Please keep it family friendly, and by joining the link party you give me permission to share your additions through social media venues, such as Pinterest and Twitter. Of course, you will be credited for them.

And, without further adieu, here are....

Last Week's Most Popular Links:

Congratulations, and grab Your "I Was Featured at Go Crochet Crazy" Button to display on your blog!

I was featured at Go Crochet Crazy
Here's the Code to Copy & Paste:

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Before I get to the It's Finally Friday Link-a-Long Guidelines, if you have any doubts that participating in link parties is okay, please read my blog post here. It will put your concerns to rest.

Go Crochet Crazy "It's Finally Friday" Link-a-Long Guidelines

  1. Add links for up to three of your blog posts (not just your home page) using the ADD YOUR LINK button below.
  2. Leave a comment on two other blog posts or pins, letting them know you found them through the Go Crochet Crazy Spring Fling Link-a-Long. If you're one of the first two to the party, you can comment on the last one or two from this Link-a-Long from last week. Please feel free to comment on more, if you like. We all LOVE to get comments.
  3. Share this post through Google+, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook...that's more exposure for everyone joining the link-a-long. **This is easy to do after linking up by clicking on one of the social media icons before you return to the party.**
  4. Let your readers know you've joined the Go Crochet Crazy Friday Link-a-Long by linking to this post on your blog. You can text link to this URL: or the following badge:
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Link-a-Long Badge Code

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This Weekend I'm Linking Up With:

Crochet Addict UK "I've Made Friday"  
Create with Joy Friendship Friday 
Natasha in Oz Say G'Day Saturday
Beauty Observed Link Party 
Annemarie's Haakblog Link Party 
Sincerely Paula No Rules Weekend Blog Party 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Think Spring Cotton Crochet Coasters -- Free Pattern

Oh the joys of spring...crocuses and tulips in bloom, birds chirping, warming temperatures and buds on trees. I'm completely caught up in the joys of spring. The month of March was a busy one. In addition to being in the States to visit my family for several weeks, I also finished and published my latest crochet pattern eBook, Four Infinity Scarf Patterns to Keep You Warm, and created my Lazy Daze Poncho design.

With the arrival of April, I was ready for a quick crochet project to give me some satisfaction while I work on my next crochet pattern eBook and a long-term project (my Cath Kidston-inspired giant granny afghan). What better way to celebrate spring than with flowers?

Which led to the creation of my Think Spring Cotton Crochet Coasters!

"Think Spring" Cotton Crochet Coasters, free pattern available on Go Crochet Crazy blog
There are a lot of beautiful crochet coaster patterns out there. I've tried a few that I liked and have tried some that didn't give me the results I was looking for. In the end, I decided to design my own so I could have a quick-to-crochet pattern with an attractive, versatile look. Here's the free pattern so you can whip up a few for yourself or as a lovely, springtime gift.

"Think Spring" Cotton Crochet Coaster Pattern

Hook size - G
Cotton yarn of your choice, I used Bernat 100% Cotton Yarn in Smokey Wine, and Sugar 'n Cream in Ecru.

Ch 6, join with slip stitch to form ring.

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first DC). DC 19 times into ring for total of 20 stitches. Join with slipstitch.

Round 2: Ch 4 (counts as first DC and first Ch 1). *DC in the next stitch, Ch 1*. Repeat from * to * all the way around. Ch 1, and join the last stitch to the first with a slipstitch.

Round 3: Slipstitch to a Ch 1 space. Ch 3 (counts as first DC). DC again in the same space. *Ch 1, 2 DC in the next Ch 1 space*.  Repeat from * to * all the way around. Ch 1, slipstitch into the first stitch. Fasten off.

Round 4: Using your second color, join in a Ch 1 space with a slipstitch, SC in the same space. *Skip the two DCs and DC five times into the next Ch 1 space. Skip the next 2 stitches and SC into the next Ch 1 space*. Repeat from * to * all the way around to create 10 flower petals. Fasten off, sew in your end.
"Think Spring" Cotton Crochet Coasters, free pattern by Go Crochet Crazy
 Let me know what you think of my new crochet coaster design, and enjoy your springtime crochet and craft projects! And don't forget to stop by and enter my giveaway! The contest closes Wednesday night (April 3rd).

Today I'm Linking Up With:

Moogly Hookin' on Hump Day
VMG 206 Brag About It Link Party
Oombawka Design Weekly Link Party
Small Things Yarn Along Wednesday
Crochet Addict UK What Are You Doing Wednesday?
Easy Life Meal and Party Planning Four Seasons Blog Hop
Krafty Inspiration Thursday Link Party 
Skip to My Lou Made by You Monday Link Party 
Craf-o-Maniac Sunday Soiree Link Party

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Love Surprises

The past seven days have been a week of surprises...some for me, but mostly the kind that I'm creating with hook and hand. Lovely springtime weather was a wonderful and welcome surprise when I arrived last week (back in Germany) after a long visit with my family in Chicagoland.

Yesterday, it was warm enough for me to hop on my bicycle and take a two-hour ride along the Rhine River. Mother Nature delighted me with one visual treat after another as I enjoyed the wind in my hair, and the peace and quiet that awaits me in nature.

One of many rapeseed crops (used for canola oil) with their honey-scented yellow blossoms.
This path along the Rhine stretches on for miles through cities, villages and farm areas.
My favorite biking route takes me past several horse farms.
On the crochet side of life, I've enjoyed many surprises, as well. I was delighted by all of the surprises I found in the crafts and creations of my last "It's Finally Friday Link-a-Long". Be sure to take a look at what my blogging friends have been up to in the month of March. I'm so impressed by all the creativity going on, and love hosting my weekly party and joining others. I've made such wonderful new friends in Blog Land. :)

Hook and yarn has kept me busy during every possible free minute as I've been working on some crochet surprises for family members. I can't reveal the complete finished products (which are also new designs I've created for an upcoming crochet pattern eBook) because I don't want to spoil the surprises for any family members that read this blog post, but I'm excited to give you a glimpse.
The 100% cotton in the middle was fun to work with and the colors remind me of cotton candy.
A glimpse of a just-finished cotton yarn design I created.
There is one crochet surprise I can show you, which I'm calling my Happy Project right now because the colors make me smile (although most every crochet project makes me happy). Allow me to show you the progress I've made on my Cath Kidston-Inspired Giant Granny. As of now, it's stroller-sized and will eventually be big enough for a queen-size bed. It will take me a while to get there, but I'm completely enjoying the process of watching it grow.
Go Crochet Crazy -- Progress on Cath Kidston Inspired Giant Granny Crochet Afghan
What surprises delighted you this past weekend? And what are you creating, crocheting or crafting this week? I can't wait to hear about what you're up to!

I'm Currently Linking Up With:

Erika's Crafts Corner Link Yourself Monday