A Maker in the Making
For years I followed someone else’s patterns. Doing exactly as the pattern was written. I was afraid to change a thing,. I never felt that I knew enough to change things up. Although I had crocheted for years, I doubted myself and my abilities. Who did I think I was…a crochet designer? Not me…I was a follower and not a leader. Well not any more…that was about to change!
The Back Story
I have been crocheting for a very long time, first learning the very basics when about about 10 years old. I did just a few simple stitches and focused more on yarn colors for variation and seldom tried anything new. For many years I only did blankets….many, many blankets! I made blankets for my mom, my kids, my husband, and, until a few years ago, I made baby blankets for friends and family.
That all changed a few years back after I discovered crochet tutorials on YouTube! In the last five or so years I have really upped my crochet game. When I started watching videos, I began to really improve my skills and challenge myself creatively. Who knew there was so much to learn!? YouTube really opened my eyes to all things crochet! So many designers, educators, yarns, and notions! So much to learn!!
The Push I Needed
Last year my son, Dylan, and daughter-in-law, Lauren, asked what I wanted for a gift. As Lauren is quite the yarn geek, self taught knitter, and has access to a really great local yarn store, I asked for some yarn and a pattern. I told them that I trusted them to choose both. My goal was to make my first wearable. They did not disappoint!
Lauren chose the sweater pattern: the Blush Crush pullover by Peppergoose. Dylan chose the yarn: Berroco Vintage DK in Douglas Fir. I was all set….except I wasn’t. The designer was Australian and the pattern was written in UK terms….all part of the learning curve I figured. Not insurmountable, just a challenge. I was in over my head but had time, motivation, and experience on my side…or so I thought.
First Time for Everything
After a few false starts and minor glitches, I was off and running….well crocheting! I had never attempted a crochet pattern of this difficultly nor made a wearable, but was eager to learn and see it to completion. I had to keep reminding myself of the difference in stitch names….a single is a double, a double is a treble…or is it the other way around? It soon became apparent that Australian pattern designers write slightly differently than US based pattern designers. This was by far the most advanced pattern I have ever attempted. By the time I completed the pattern, I had scribbled all kinds of notes and comments in the margins.
For the first time ever, I had to do a swatch for gauge as I wanted to actually be able to wear it when I was done. Imagine that! Measurements in hand, correct hook for the gauge, I started, I frogged, I started again, and I frogged some more. Oh my….I joked that I made the same sleeve three times before I was on to the second sleeve. Again all part of the learning curve. I was soon on to the lace panels that graced both the front and back of the sweater. It was the first time ever doing a lace panel and my first time with a crochet stitch diagram….what had I gotten myself into?
Changing Things Up
I watched a few videos and tried the lace panel by using the written instructions first. It looked pretty good but I knew I was missing something in the translation. I had always wanted to learn how to read stitch diagrams and I guess now was the time! I grabbed some other yarn to learn the process. No sense in ruining my nice yarn while I practiced. It was quite a steep learning curve. Some more frogging and swear words may have been involved. Overall I was pleased with my progress but soon realized that the beautiful lace panel was just a bit too open for this conservative old lady.
I had recently seen a video for a Tunisian lace stitch that really caught my eye. Searching YouTube, I found it again. I have always been intrigued by Tunisian crochet and figured this would be the perfect ‘design element’ for my first wearable. I practiced a bit to get the correct dimensions for size and the right fabric drape for the sweater. It worked out great! I was soon joining the panels to the sweater….another first for me!
The Finished Project
Two and a half months later, I was modeling my first sweater for my husband. I did take a few days/weeks off when I got frustrated but I persisted and am so proud of my first wearable!! It fits and looks great. I did block it, yet another first, and was quite impressed with how it really corrected a few ‘issues’ that may have crept into my make. The look and feel of the sweater was greatly improved after blocking.
I learned so much with this project. I learned I am far more capable that I ever thought. You can never know it all in crochet. There is always a new pattern, technique, yarn, notion, or stitch to learn. I may never have stepped out of my comfort zone if it had not been for Dylan and Lauren choosing this project for me. I didn’t want to waste the yarn by not completing the sweater. Since that first wearable I have gone on to make many other wearable items. That pattern opened the door to so many more possibilities in crochet!
I learned the importance of pushing myself creatively and trusting the process. I learned it is okay to frog and frog again until you get it right. I learned you can make changes in a pattern to make it work for you. I learned there is no yarn/crochet police. I learned to swatch for gauge, join seams, and block my project. I learned how to read stitch diagrams.
Moral of the Crochet Story
Crochet is a journey. There is so much to learn, and see, and do, and make! Do all the hard things….mix in a few simple things. After making this sweater I went on to make a few really easy projects….palate cleansers so to speak. Not everything has to be complicated and challenging. Some of my favorite makes are the simple ones made with really beautiful yarn. Completing this sweater really gave me the confidence to learn and make more. I am so much more capable now. If I do not know how to do a new technique or stitch there is likely a YouTube video to teach me. There are great yarn stores with wonderful instructors there to help. There are many fantastic books to help you on your journey as well. Take advantage of all the amazing resources available to support your creative crochet endeavors. The only one stopping you is you!