One of the most exciting and often frustrating parts of crocheting is trying a new pattern. Even when you know all the stitches, it can sometimes take several tries to get it to really look or fit right. It is important to check your gauge--even though it takes time away from actually making the project, it could save you hours of work if your gauge is off.
What does it mean to check your gauge? A gauge swatch will tell you if your stitches are the same size as the pattern creator's were. Hook size, yarn type, and your own personal stitch tension can affect your gauge. If your pattern says to use a certain size hook and type of yarn, it will often tell you how many inches a certain number of stitches will yield. So you stitch the number of stitches it suggests, then measure it with a measuring tape to see if your swatch is the same size as the pattern's. If not, you may need to loosen or tighten your stitches, or change to a different size hook or yarn. It may take some experimenting, but it's worth it if you want your project to fit when you're done! Once you're completed a pattern, you probably won't need to check your gauge the next time you use it.
Okay, so let's get to some free patterns! I'm in love with Creative Yarn. This beautiful crochet artist in Rome makes the most gorgeous stuff, and she offers lots of free patterns on her blog. If you don't crochet, you can also buy most of her finished products in her Etsy shop! These are a few of my favorites from her site. (Click on the picture to go straight to her pattern!)
I actually used her pattern for this giant flower and attached it to a thicker headband. I wanted something warm to cover my ears when I'm outside with the kids.
I also recently stitched up these adorable dog sweaters for my sister's chihuahuas. They're mini halter tops made from this free pattern (it's hard to find a good chihuahua sweater pattern for crochet!). Aren't they hilarious? They're on their way to you this week, Lind. You'll have to send me pics of the pups wearing them so I can post them!
There are also tons of great patterns for sale out there. You don't have to always buy a whole book for one pattern, either. Etsy features lots of cute crochet patterns for just about anything imaginable. My next project was this cool brimmed hat. I found the pattern in Little Projects' Etsy shop. Here are a couple more of her patterns that I totally want to try! Isn't she talented? (Click on pictures for links to these patterns in her shop.)
We are really lucky to live just minutes from the home offices of Martingale & Company Publishing, publishers of some of your favorite quilting and crafting books. If you're ever in the Seattle area, you've got to take the tour. They take you through their offices and show off many of the beautiful quilts featured in their books, and tell the stories behind them. But the best part is when the tour is over, you get to go down to their "seconds" shop and buy past books for only $5!
Stacy, our cute friend Erin, and Jessica in the book room.
Stacy and Jess showing off their loot!
Collectively we've probably been half a dozen times, mostly for the shopping, and this time when Jessica and Stacy went (I was the designated babysitter), they picked up a couple of extra books so we could host some sweet giveaways! Here's our first book giveaway, perfect for all our crocheting readers!
Amigurumi World, Seriously Cute Crochet, by Ana Paula Rimoli, is an awesome pattern book for the hot amigurumi trend. (Amigurumi is a Japanese word which, roughly translated, means "knitted stuffed toy.") People of all ages are crocheting and knitting these little creatures and collecting them. The book features about 27 crochet patterns for little "amis", many of them mommy and baby pairs, and a few faux food cuties as well.
So, if you want to win this book, leave a comment telling us the last crochet project you made, and you'll be entered to win it! Comments must be in by 11:59pm PST on Saturday, January 24. Good luck, amis!
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