Deciphering Foreign Patterns

Melbourne’s weather has finally starting to improve (though I can hear the rain and wind as I type!) so I thought I better switch to some sun hats for my little girl, especially as the ones she has are a little big for her head. My friend sent me a link to a pattern which looked fab and very summery and I thought perfect! I bought the yarn, sat down without the kids (for once) and then clicked on the link…err anyone know Russian?! The link (I will post it below) thankfully was translated into English by Google, but even then for my basic understanding it wasn’t enough. I am now on my way to finishing this hat (which is still going to be too big) and I’m not sure if I have followed the pattern correctly, but it looks similar to the hat in the picture so I thought I would share with you some of my findings in case it helps. Feel free to correct me if you know the correct stitches.

Tip 1

This might seem obvious but in my baby brain state I spent a while googling for Russian crochet hook conversions. In this pattern, their hooks are in millimetres. They (or possibly the google translation) follow the European convention of using a comma instead of a decimal point. So a 2,1 hook is a 2.1mm hook. I think I just couldn’t believe I was going to be using a hook that small.

Tip 2

You Tube is your friend. One of the stitches is shown as ce-Air Loop. If you google Air Loop you might come across the Loop stitch. So I watched lots of English videos trying to learn how this stitch works and how on earth will it give me the same results in the picture. So I tried again and noticed when you google Air Loop some Russian videos appear. The great thing about these videos is that the language does not matter. It was clear from watching that an Air Loo is a chain. So after two days, I finally was able to start.

Tip 3

Make sure you can zoom in on pictures. It is very helpful to work out where to place your stitches. The main part of this pattern I believe had two trebles (UK) in the first chain, then one treble in the next to chains. I knew there had to be four trebles in total, but only by zooming could I work this out. I may not be correct, but it looks good.

A New Stitch – Front Post Stitch

For this hat I was able to learn a new stitch. This is great for making a raised rib on your garment. I found a great tutorial here:

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-work-frontpost-doublecrochet-stitches.html

For those that want to attempt this hat, here is the link my friend sent me. See if you can decipher the pattern:

http://thewhoot.com.au/whoot-news/crafty-corner/crochet-panama-hats

Well I am off to catch up on some sleep before trying some more patterns.

A lot can happen in a year!

Wow I can’t believe it has been a year since I last posted. So much has happened. So many beanies crocheted, started a party plan business and had a little baby girl who is 2 months. My boy is going to be 2 at the end of the month, time is going so fast.

One of my favourite crochet designers (Repeat Crafter Me) has produced some great patterns over the last year and I still have a few more I want to do. Check out this great aviator pattern. This is definitely on my to do list for my son. He has thankfully reached the age where his head has slowed down so his beanies last longer. He is also obsessed with hats (which is great for the Australian summer) so I have a willing guinea pig. I have also decided to sell what I make before I end up drowning in them so watch this space.

Tips about reading patterns

So my penguin beanie was put on hold so I could make another (but different) owl beanie for my friend’s soon to be born bub. Using this different pattern made me realise that like with most things there is no standard way to write a pattern.

When you start a new row or round, usually you make a number of chains before you make your first stitch. This is called a turning chain. For example, if your first stitch is a double crochet (UK) then you make one chain first then make a double crochet. I have found that some patterns assume you know this and some include it. In addition, for those that include the chains, some put it at the beginning of the row and some at the end! The following three examples are all written differently but should have the same results.

Example 1 – No Chains
Row 1 – 10 dc
Row 2 – 10 dc
Row 3 – 10 dc

Example 2 – Chains at the start
Row 1 – ch, 10 dc
Row 2 – ch, 10 dc
Row 3 – ch, 10 dc

Example 3 – Chains at the end
Row 1 – 10 dc, ch
Row 2 – 10 dc, ch
Row 3 – 10 dc, ch

Stitch No. of Stitches
Slip stitch 0
Double crochet 1
Half treble 2
Treble 3
Double treble 4
Triple treble 5

As well as written patterns you can have diagrammatic patterns. It would seem that pretty much all charts are the same and internationally recognised, it is just the names of the stitches that are different. I found a great blog that has a free crochet course (which I am yet to try) which has a great diagram on the main stitches symbols. Crafty minx’s lesson 21 is all about reading these charts. The stitch names are the American, however by looking at her diagrams, I actually think the UK terms fit better. For example, the double treble has two diagonal lines and the triple treble has three diagonal lines.

I have found that the more different patterns from different sources that I do, the easier they are to read and pick out the variations that different writers have. I am also finding that I can modify the patterns slightly if required. For example, my original Oh Boy Oh Boy pattern I made I uses an acrylic wool for the beak and it just looked a little odd next to the bamboo cotton yarn I used for the rest of the beanie. I then found some yellow cotton yarn which looked similar to the bamboo yarn so I used this for the beak on the Repeat Crafter Me version. However, this yarn was thinner and no matter what size hook I used, this beak looked out of place. I was able however to use the pattern for the Oh Boy Oh Boy beak with this thinner yarn and it looks so much better.

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Learning from mistakes and the Magic Circle

So from learning the basics, I occasionally pick up my pram blanket, do a few rows and then give up. My son and the other bubs in my mother’s group are all turning one about now (eek!) and so I decided I would make them all owl or other animal beanies. It is winter here so now is the time to make them. I looked at various different patterns and settled on the girl version of “Oh Boy Oh Boy” by Cre8tion Crochet. My first attempt was good but the eyes looked a little small. After giving the beanie away I spent one night searching You Tube videos and re-reading the instructions. Typically, it would seem I had been doing something similar to double crochet (US) and not the half double crochet (US) that I was supposed to be doing. This explains why the hat was taller than it should have been and thus the eyes looked smaller than they should have done. I also discovered from You Tube videos that I should have put my hook under the whole loop and not just the back loops. This will explain (I hope) why my lovely pram blanket has been so challenging.

So the two new methods I learnt for the owl beanie was the magic circle or adjustable circle and crocheting seamless rounds. For both of these I used the videos on Cre8tion Crochet’s website. The magic circle is useful when creating hats or circles. The seamless rounds video I watched after I had almost completed the beanie and I can definitely say that this method works. The beanie no longer has an obvious seam running round the hat like a helter skelter! If you look carefully at the seamless rounds video you can also see the hook going through both loops. This may be obvious to you all but to me it was a revelation. I suspect my original mistake had been due to the fact that you just use the back look of your initial chains when creating your first row. Ever since then I have always used the back loop. The video also clarified which loop you use for a slip stitch to join the round (see 4 min 30). Although this seemed obvious to me for rounds, this was a good illustration of which set of loops are the ones to use for the stitch. For my original pram blanket I have to go through the loops in two rows below and it always confused me which loops to use.
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using the wrong stitch
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using the correct stitch

So now I have perfected (I wish) this new methods and sorted out how to use the correct stitch I am on to my next 1st birthday and my next project. My next beanie is going to be a penguin beanie I found through Ravelry by Repeat After Me where there are some great patterns.

It starts with the basics…

So I started my journey last year by wanting to make a blanket and some baby balls for a mobile. After some advice from some crafty pregnant cyber friends I wandered off to Spotlight (an Australian craft chain) and bought a 3mm crochet hook, some baby yarn and a pattern book. I was looking for a book with a guide on how to crochet, but I got so baffled (and the shop was closing) that I bought a book which was mainly knitting but with a lovely blanket to crochet. I picked up Patons Little Angels. The blanket in question is gorgeous and looked really simple. I must say I still haven’t finished it and have really struggled with it. Some recent videos have been looking at has highlighted some major errors in my part which explains why I was struggling! I will go through in more detail later on.

The local library here is wonderful and I ordered a stack of books from there and this is where I started my journey. I found it great to get a book which took you through the basic steps whilst making small items. The book I used is called “Cute & easy crochet : learn to crochet with these 35 adorable projects” by Nicki Trench. From there I learnt the basics on how to hold the hook and yarn, how to make a chain and how to single crochet and up to double crochet. From this book I was able to finally make a blanket for the pram and some little crochet balls.
If you want to read online some guide for basics, google and You Tube have loads of resources. One guide which covers the basics is Crochet Basics Guide by Amy Solovay.

Now you must forgive me if I slip between American and UK terminology. Australian terminology (where I live) is similar to the UK (where I am from), but most of the resources I have used so far seem to be American. Here is a link I have bookmarked in case I get confused. I will also list it in my resources page.
A lot of the yarn I have used for practice is Moda Vera Marvel 8 ply. It isn’t the softest though it does soften when you use it. It is cheap and cheerful and was recommended to me by a home economics teacher I met in Spotlight. I also bought a 4mm hook which was better for the thicker yarn. I started making a different blanket made up squares. I highly recommend starting with something like this. Each square is small and uses just a few stitches. The squares are called Granny Squares. I started having a look for similar patterns to share and I couldn’t believe how many variations there are! However, the concept is the same regardless of the type. You create the square in rounds (start with a small circle and then go round and round till you get to the right size) You then just repeat each square (which helps practice) until the blanket is the size you want (or you get bored!). As I don’t have the book anymore I can’t give you the pattern but I found a similar patterns to try from Ravelry called “Springtime” by DROPS design. Don’t be daunted by the number of squares or colours needed. I made a much smaller blanket for the pram with about 5 colours. I also suspect that the stitches I made at the time weren’t quite right but hey, it looks good and that is the main thing.

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My Challenge

I have always loved making things whether it was cakes, knitting, sewing, but I had never tried crochet. Last year my husband and I were blessed with a gorgeous baby boy. Before he was born I started trying to make various items, quilts, bootees and decided I would learn to crochet. My mother-in-law is excellent at crochet but being on the other side of the world was not going to help me in my quest. In addition to this I want to start my own home business. I haven’t decided yet what it will be but I would love for it to be crafty. A complete change from banking (my former career) and not likely to pay off the mortgage, but it would be lovely to make some money to pay for treats for the family and a good excuse to make things that I may not necessarily need.
So my challenge is this, teach myself to crochet in the snippets of spare time I have whilst looking after my bub with the possibility of selling items in the future. I will share books and websites I have found useful. Although this will be mainly crochet I might include other crafty bits and pieces. I have already learnt the basics so I will cover those first and then I will record my learning experience.
If there any stitches you want to learn in particular let me know and I can put it on my learning list.