Monday, November 26, 2007

How to Read a Japanese Crochet Pattern

In a recent post I mentioned how I tried a japanese crochet pattern for the first time. It took a little bit of time for me to figure it out, but I did it! In case anyone's interested, I wanted to share my experience with other new japanese crochet pattern chart users :)

First things first, I should mention that I'm not an expert in japanese crochet patterns, and I'm not an expert crochet-er either! I learned to crochet from my grandmother when I was very little, and then recently picked it up again. I would say I'm at a novice/intermediate level. But if you have any questions or comments I will try my best to help. I welcome any corrections or tips too (just tell me in a nice way so you don't hurt my feelings! LOL)

Until I discovered Japanese craft books, I've always seen crochet patterns written out, like this:

Rnd 1 Chain 2, work 7 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st in first sc to join.
Rnd 2 Ch 1, 2 sc in ea sc around, sl st in first sc to join.

I've always had a hard time following those traditional (non-charted) crochet patterns. One reason is because every time I look away from the book to look at the stitch I'm making, I lose my place.

Japanese craft books use international chart patterns, which look like the picture at the top left of this post.

I've always been a visual learner. For me, what's great about chart patterns is that if I lose my place, I can look at my stitches and compare it to the diagram to figure out where I am. So much easier (for me anyway!). Are you ready to get started? Let's go!

The hat pattern I'm going to use in my example is the picture at the top of this post. (The second picture is what the finished project would look like!)


The first thing I recommend is familiarize yourself with the different symbols in the japanese crochet pattern and what stitch each symbol represents. I found the Haas Design website was very help -- it has a stitch legend, instructions and even video clips for basic crochet stitches. Here are a few basic stitches (just visit Haas Design to view the full chart):


This is a circular pattern, so we need to work our way from the center starting with the first round:

Each symbol is a stitch. Starting from the symbol in the center (circled in red) go in the direction of the blue arrows:

The symbol in the middle is basically saying create 2 loops. Here's a 3-step illustration of how to create the 2 loops and then how to start the first stitch after you create the loop:
(I've also recorded a short video clip demonstrating this. I'm having problems posting the video right now, but once I get it posted I will link to it from here!)

After you make those 2 loops you would chain 4, then [2 dc in the ring, ch 1] 5 times, dc, then join the circle with a slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the beginning chain 4:


After you make that slip stitch to join the round you are now ready to start Round 2. Remember, follow the pattern going counter-clockwise!

You probably got the hang of this already, but just humor me :) Let's read the pattern together -- Round 2 would go something like this:

chain 3, dc, [2 dc, ch 1] 11 times, slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that started round 2

That's basically it. Now you just keep following the pattern round by round until you finish. And your completed hat would look something like this (but probably better!):

After writing this post, I realize I'm not a technical writer. But still, I hope what I wrote made sense and that the diagrams and screenshots were helpful! If you decide to give it a try, the pattern I used in my example is from this book (ISBN 978-4-02-190419-6):

Would love to see pictures of your finished hat!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend - Rest, Relaxation, and some Crafting

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with their loved ones. We definitely enjoyed our Thanksgiving and this 4-day weekend has been great too! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity at work and home and it's nice to slow down a little bit, before the mad rush of Christmas begins.

So far this weekend I finished this baby blanket. I love the colors in the fabric -- dusty rose and green -- and I chose a nice olive-colored binding tape for it. I just need to wrap it up and it'll be ready for gifting.

There is a lovely new fabric shop -- The Bobbin's Nest Studio -- in my neighborhood and I had an excuse to buy fabric :) I'm working on 2 custom orders this weekend: 6 crayon rolls and 2 art pencil rolls. I'll post pictures hopefully tomorrow when they're finished. The Bobbin's Nest is lovely. The shop owner (Erin) has really great taste in decorating and the store is very well-organized. They carry fabric, yarn, crafting notions/supplies/books, and a whole room of sewing machines that you can use by the hour. I love it!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

etsy bloggers theme: the story of my craft

This week's Etsy Bloggers theme is "The Story of your Craft". The biggest influence on my craftiness is my grandmother. As a seamstress she made gorgeous wedding and pageant gowns for a living. She is also what I would call a chronic crocheter. She is constantly making doilies and granny squares! Her house is full of beautiful crocheted pieces...cushion covers, table cloths, with doilies under vases, lamps, and baskets. It wouldn't be grandma's house without doilies :)

How did I learn
I didn't go to school to learn crafting. I learned to sew and crochet from my grandmother. The first thing I ever sewed (if I remember correctly) was a really simple skirt. I remember using scrap fabrics from my grandmother's sewing room to make it. Her "sewing room" was really this little space right by the back door that led to her garden. She had a table up against the wall for her sewing machine and fabric. I loved sitting there watching her make things or playing with the scraps of material...I caught the crafting bug at a young age!

Online Tutorials
I learn a lot from online tutorials. Google makes it really easy to find them. There are so many great crafting sites out there. Here are my recent favorite tutorials:
Freezer Paper Stencil Tutorial
Gocco Tutorial
Make your own (sewing) label

And some great crafting sites:
Etsy Labs -- Check out the tutorial links in the right sidebar

"You're the inspiration..." (remember that old Chicago song?)

I get inspired from everything around me: my favorite blogs (see my sidebar for links!), pictures on flickr, craft books (especially japanese craft books!), and my name a few ways. I love simple and classic designs, vintage fabric, interesting color combinations, and pretty paper.

Things I make
I really enjoy making things by hand. Lately I've been doing a lot more sewing, but I also knit and crochet. I make children's accessories such as crayon and pencil rolls, book covers, and recently I made an adorable (if I say so myself!) child's apron and mitten set. I also enjoy making party favors and goody bags for our family parties. And last but not least, I also do calligraphy--I hand-lettered all the place cards for our wedding and our friends' wedding invitations!

My own shop
So after years of quiet crafting :) I finally took the plunge and opened up own etsy shop in September of this year. I've learned a lot in the past month. The first sale I made I really took a big loss on the shipping! I learned the hard way how expensive international shipping is. But overall it's been a great experience so far.

Friday, November 02, 2007

finished project and japanese craft book shop update!

Just finished 2 beautiful crochet hats...
Only problem is -- they don't fit. It was definitely trial and error for me.

I was working off of a japanese crochet chart and couldn't figure out the gauge. When I finally finished the first hat, I realized it was much too big. It would fit a bowling ball :) My second attempt I modified the template and almost got it right. It fits the top of my head, but it seems a little long -- the bottom of it touches the top of my shirt collar haha. I should have made it 2 rows shorter. I'm going to give it one more try. You know what they say, the third time's a charm!

I realize now that I'm in love with crochet charts. It's so much easier to work off of a chart then following a written pattern. This website was so helpful to figure out japanese crochet charts. It has a stitch legend for crochet symbols and also provides video demos of each stitch! When I was first learning to read japanese crochet charts, I would look at the chart and then look at the stitch legend on the website to figure out the crochet stitch.

big shop update this weekend!
I handpicked all of these japanese craft books and I just love all the projects. Please visit my etsy shop purlyshells if you want to check out more pictures. Here's a sneak peek!