Monthly Archives: August 2012

Dino Hat with Tail by Valery of This-n-That Boutique

The Dino Hat with Tail

REVIEW CHECKLIST

Standard Crochet Pattern Elements

  1. Is the name of the pattern and a photo prominently displayed at the top of the pattern? Yes
  2. Does the designer assign a difficulty rating to their pattern? No
  3. Is a gauge given and if so, what type of gauge (horizontal/vertical swatch, chain only, sized by a certain number of rounds, swatch of a portion of the pattern)? Yes, circular gauge (first 5 rounds)
  4. Is there an abbreviation key? Yes
  5. Are measurements or a size chart included? Desired circumference of the beanie portion only is given.
  6. Is a hook size given either by letter, number, or both? Yes
  7. Is a recommended yarn listed either by weight, brand, or fiber? Yes
  8. Is there information on how to contact the designer? Yes
  9. Is there a materials list (i.e. ribbon, buttons, etc.) if pattern includes extras? Yes
  10. Is there a photo or written tutorial on special or difficult stitches or techniques? No (no special stitches but you must have knowledge on sewing on parts)
  11. Are there stitch counts at the end of every row or round? Yes
  12. Does the designer signify if the turning chain is counted in your row count? No

Subjective Crochet Pattern Elements

  1. Is the pattern uncluttered, orderly, nicely laid out?  Does the designer give directions on where to find the next step if there is a break between sizes or there are pieces to crochet and sew on?  The pattern is uncluttered, is worked easily in the order given, and is nicely laid out.
  2. Is the font easy to read?  Are stitch counts that are laid out in parenthesis to signify different sizes highlighted in different colors or placed so that they are easy to follow? The font is easy to read and all stitch counts are in parenthesis at the end of each row.  This pattern is for a newborn sized only photography prop so questions pertaining to different sizes are not applicable.
  3. Does the pattern writer have a ‘friendly’ writing style?  Do they add a personal flair?  Does their tone encourage you to seek assistance should you run into a problem? Yes, the pattern designer is very inviting and encourages you to contact her with any questions or comments you may have.
  4. Does my finished item look the same or similar to the designer’s photo? Yes, very similar.
  5. Are there adequate, too many or too few photos showing special stitches, parts placements, etc. and are these photos clear?  Are they labeled with an explanation? There is only one photo of the product included in the pattern.  More photos could have been included on spike placement which would change my rating of this pattern from easy to beginner (more customers for the designer!)  The photo of the finished product that is included is a nice clear professional shot.
  6. Are special instructions such as “do not turn” or “slip stitch into second stitch of your turning chain” included and are they used consistently? This pattern uses the Magic Circle to begin the hat and the spikes and a link to a video tutorial is given.  However, the designer does not give you an alternative way to start your work.
  7. Is the pattern clear and concise, free of run on sentences and unnecessary information? The transition from the tail to the edging of the hat was redundant (telling you to turn your work in the last row of the tail and then again telling you to turn your work in the edging section), there were a few places where punctuation was missing or should have been used, and although there was no unnecessary information, I just felt like some of it could have been condensed down a bit but that may be just a personal preference for brevity.

Verifiable Elements

  • Using and matching the gauge (not the hook size) the designer gave, did the finished piece measure the same or very similar to measurements given? Yes, my beanie section matched the designer’s hat circumference and height.
  • Were typos or misspellings found in the course of working the pattern?  How many? There were no misspellings but there were a few places where punctuation was used incorrectly or was not used at all.  There were not enough errors to make it annoying, even to this Grammar Warrior (I was dubbed with that name a few years ago by a fellow ham radio operator). 
  • Does the designer allow sales of items made from the pattern?  Are there any restrictions? Yes, she does allow sales of your finished products and requests that you link back to her shop.

Pre-Purchase Information

  • Where was pattern purchased (Ravelry, designer’s personal website, Etsy, etc.)?  This pattern is, as of today’s date, unpublished and it was sent to me personally by the designer, who is a fan of my Facebook business page.  She will be offering this pattern for sale in the near future I believe.  Previous to her contacting me requesting a review, I had no affiliation with her other than the fact that she was a fan of my page.
  • In the sales description, does the designer give enough information to help you make an informed buying decision?  (Do they list the sizes they include in the pattern, the hook size, yarn recommendation, difficulty level, etc.?) Not applicable to this pattern as it is not currently published.
  • Is the tone of their advertising friendly and inviting? Not applicable to this pattern as it is not currently published.
  • Do they provide good quality photos of the finished product?Not applicable to this pattern as it is not currently published.

Synopsis

When I was contacted by the very lovely person who wrote this pattern, she stated that her dino hat with tail was one of the best selling items in her shop.  I can see why!  It is adorable!  I think that Ms. Valery Cagney has done a wonderful job on writing her first pattern and I hope that once you all finish reading this blog that you will head on over to her Facebook page and give her some encouragement to get this pattern published for sale to the masses.

There were really very few things that I found that I felt needed a bit of improvement.  The pattern is designed for use as a photographer’s prop and is offered in a newborn size only so that eliminated the need to further organize the pattern into different sizes.  As stated above, I found one section that was a bit confusing because of a redundant instruction but if you are a novice to expert crocheter, this would be a minor error that you would automatically know to overlook.  If that and two other things were fixed in the pattern, I would rate this pattern as a complete beginner’s pattern instead of an easy pattern.  The two issues to be addressed to make this a beginner’s pattern is the need to give an alternative to the Magic Circle method and to add a photo tutorial on sewing on the spikes.  I think that the designer would want to appeal to the complete beginners to boost her sales of the pattern and just imagine the feeling that the crocheter would have completing something this darned cute!

Yes, everyone ‘should’ learn how to use a Magic Circle because honestly, I think it makes the work look neater, but there are those that have a difficult time learning the technique for one reason or another so they are happy enough to just work the correct number of stitches in the beginning chain.

So, I’m not sure how Valery sews her spikes on but I thought you might be interested in seeing how I did mine.  Yes all you diehard crocheters out there, there are some uses for knitting needles which you will discover when you click on my pictures.  Oh, and don’t do what I did and ignore her specific instructions on where to place the spikes – like not in the join between the hat and the tail.  You will end up like me and have to pull out the stitch ripper.  Here are the photos:

Valery, thank you so much for sharing your unpublished pattern with me!  I enjoyed creating this precious little photography prop very much and I will be sending my sample on to my photographer so I can list these  up for sale in my own Etsy shop.

Folks, please give Valery a shout and show her some fan love on her Facebook page over at This-n-That Boutique.  Here’s the link for ya: https://www.facebook.com/Thisnthatboutiquefans

Until next week, get your crochet on!

Overalls by Darling Derriere Designs, Crochet Pattern Review

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Overalls by Darling Derriere Designs, Crochet Pattern Review

Standard Crochet Pattern Elements

  1. Is the name of the pattern and a photo prominently displayed at the top of the pattern?  Yes, both the name and a photo is prominently displayed at the top.
  2. Does the designer assign a difficulty rating to their pattern?  No, not in the pattern.
  3. Is a gauge given and if so, what type of gauge (horizontal/vertical swatch, chain only, sized by a certain number of rounds, swatch of a portion of the pattern)? Yes, chain gauge.
  4. Is there an abbreviation key?  Yes.
  5. Are measurements or a size chart included? No measurements but designer lists sizes by age and weight.
  6. Is a hook size given either by letter, number, or both? Yes, by letter.
  7. Is a recommended yarn listed either by weight, brand, or fiber? Yes.
  8. Is there information on how to contact the designer? Yes.
  9. Is there a materials list (i.e. ribbon, buttons, etc.) if pattern includes extras? Yes.
  10. Is there a photo or written tutorial on special or difficult stitches or techniques? Not applicable to this pattern.
  11. Are there stitch counts at the end of every row or round? Yes.
  12. Does the designer signify if the turning chain is counted in your row count? No.

Subjective Crochet Pattern Elements

  1. Is the pattern uncluttered, orderly, nicely laid out?  Does the designer give directions on where to find the next step if there is a break between sizes or there are pieces to crochet and sew on?  I found the pattern to be uncluttered, easy to follow, and nicely laid out.  Each size has its own section and the main portion of the pattern, in this case the overalls minus the pockets and suspenders, has its own section.  The designer does not tell you at the end of each size where to go to find the information to add the suspenders or pockets but it will be obvious that you must scroll down.  There is an entire section on finishing details at the end of the pattern.
  2. Is the font easy to read?  Are stitch counts that are laid out in parenthesis to signify different sizes highlighted in different colors or placed so that they are easy to follow?  I found the font easy to read, there is good spacing between the sections, and stitch counts are given in parenthesis at the end of every row.
  3. Does the pattern writer have a ‘friendly’ writing style?  Do they add a personal flair?  Does their tone encourage you to seek assistance should you run into a problem?  The designer’s writing style is quite user friendly and is clear and concise.  Her tone is also friendly and she invites you to contact her with questions and encourages you to share your photos of your finished product with her. 
  4. Does my finished item look the same or similar to the designer’s photo?  Yes, the shape of my overalls came out almost exactly the same as hers.  I ended up making two sets and photos can be found further down in this blog post.
  5. Are there adequate, too many or too few photos showing special stitches, parts placements, etc. and are these photos clear?  Are they labeled with an explanation?  There is an adequate number of clear photos that are labeled with explanations as to pocket placement, finishing the suspenders, etc.
  6. Are special instructions such as “do not turn” or “slip stitch into second stitch of your turning chain” included and are they used consistently?  There are no special stitches or techniques required to complete this pattern.
  7. Is the pattern clear and concise, free of run on sentences and unnecessary information?  I found all instructions to be complete and clear with no run on sentences or unnecessary information.

Verifiable Elements

  • Using and matching the gauge (not the hook size) the designer gave, did the finished piece measure the same or very similar to measurements given?  I ended up making two of these sets of overalls because I was making them for a client to give as a baby shower gift.  The client requested a 3 to 6 month size set so using the chain gauge given and the hook size given, I made the first set using the 3 to 6 month sized pattern.  I used Lily Sugar ‘n Cream worsted weight cotton yarn in a denim color.  The first attempt gave me a set of overalls that would fit a newborn instead of a 3 to 6 month old.  I made the second set with a hook size that was one size larger than the recommended size (which originally matched her gauge) and I used the 6 to 9 month pattern and this gave me a set of overalls that were more comparable to a 3 to 6 month pattern.  Since this pattern is crocheted flat and then the side seams are sewn together, I would have had an easier time if the designer had provided me with a full horizontal and vertical swatch gauge rather than just a chain gauge.  When working on a flat piece, your vertical tension can differ quite a bit from someone else’s tension and interestingly enough, I recently learned through a pattern testing group that sometimes even the brand of hook that is used can affect the vertical gauge.  I use Susan Bates hooks but testers of a different diaper cover consistently found that their gauge was easier to match the designer’s gauge when using a Boye hook.  It was also difficult to tell exactly how large the overalls were supposed to be since there were no measurements listed on the pattern but I knew from experience and from taking my own measurements that the overalls were not correct in their sizing.  The pattern is still very, very good and I believe that an email to the designer requesting her to do a swatch for gauge would probably get you the information you need or you can measure as you go along if you know how large a diaper cover should be for the size you are making.  You can find standard measurements for non-crocheted diaper covers online by doing a Google search.
  • Were typos or misspellings found in the course of working the pattern?  How many?  I did not find any typos or misspellings.
  • Does the designer allow sales of items made from the pattern?  Are there any restrictions?  You may sell your finished items without restrictions.  Designer does request that if you sell your finished product that you sell it for at least the amount that she sells her finished item for.  At the time of this writing, hers are listed at $24.99 plus shipping.

Pre-Purchase Information

  • Where was pattern purchased (Ravelry, designer’s personal website, Etsy, etc.)?  I purchased this pattern through Etsy and received it along with a couple of other patterns within 24 hours. 
  • In the sales description, does the designer give enough information to help you make an informed buying decision?  (Do they list the sizes they include in the pattern, the hook size, yarn recommendation, difficulty level, etc.?)   The designer lists difficulty as easy, gives you a list of sizes included, hook size, a yarn recommendation, and basic crochet stitches involved.
  • Is the tone of their advertising friendly and inviting?  Yes, the tone is very inviting in her listing.
  • Do they provide good quality photos of the finished product?  Yes!  Very cute model!  

Synopsis

This was a very enjoyable pattern to crochet.  It was very straightforward, easy to read, well laid out, and error free for the sizes that I did make.  I only wish that the gauge would have been a vertical/horizontal swatch because that would have saved me quite a bit of time.  When the piece is laid out flat, it is really hard to just look at it and tell if the size looks right but it becomes obvious once you stitch the side seams up.  Still, this would not discourage me from purchasing another pattern from Darling Derriere and I think that I will simply email her and ask her if she can provide me with a swatch gauge so I can get a better grasp on the pattern for the next time I make it.  Here is a photo of the two sets side by side:

Overall pattern by Darling Derriere, finished products

The other thing that I did differently the second time around is to apply the yellow pocket stitching directly to the pocket before I sewed the pocket onto the overalls body.  The designer tells you to sew the stitches directly onto the pocket while sewing the pocket to the overalls and leave the top open so that it is a true pocket.  That does work fine but you can see the yellow stitches on the back side of the overalls.  That is not really a problem when the baby has them on because you cannot see that; however, if  you are selling them, top stitching the pockets with yellow and then sewing them down to the overalls using the same color as the main body gives a more professional appearance.  Here are a couple of examples:

Darling Derriere Overalls, back side pocket stitching

Darling Derriere Overalls, side by side comparison of pocket stitching

My difficulty rating: easy.  I do not recommend this for a complete beginner due to sizing issues.

The pockets are what make this piece stand out and it was the first thing that my customer noticed when I hand delivered the set to them.  They were delighted that the little pockets were actually functional.   A photographer could pop a little red patterned handkerchief in the front pocket for an extra cute affect.

Darling Derriere’s Overalls, pockets

If you would like a copy of this pattern, please visit Darling Derriere Designs here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/DarlingDerriere?ref=seller_info

I hope you have enjoyed my first review.  If I missed anything or if you have any comments or questions, fire away!  I’d love to hear from you!

Darling Derriere Designs, Overalls Crochet Pattern

The Ratings Measuring Stick – Part Two

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Today I want to talk for a minute about my husband.  No, my husband does not know how to crochet but he is one of those people you would call an “analytic thinker”.   To my complete and total surprise, he has taken a very keen interest in this blog and what it is intended for.  We have spent a few evenings sitting on our back deck discussing what information I want to include, whether or not I want to assign actual number or star ratings to patterns, who my target audience really is, and what my real goals are.  His best question to me yet came last night.  “Who are you writing to?  The designer or the people who buy the patterns?” Well, obviously I want to review patterns that fellow crocheters buy and NOT the designers themselves but I suppose I had strayed a bit off that original path because there are so many things that are purely a matter of personal preference.

Think about gauge for a second.  I believe, and I think most crocheters would agree with me, that gauge is a required element of a good crochet pattern.  However, there are a few different ways you can find the gauge of a piece.  You can do a vertical and horizontal swatch, you can simply chain a certain number of stitches, you can crochet the first 4 or 5 rounds of a pattern and then measure, or maybe you can crochet a section of that pattern that has a specific stitch pattern.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  My question was then, which method is the best method?  That is entirely subjective.  What I like may not be what you like.  So it would be very hard for me to place a rating star or number on a pattern based on my personal preferences and expect you to just take it as gospel truth.

So here is what I’m going to do.  I have created a template to use for all patterns I review.  There are concrete, verifiable elements on the template and there are subjective elements on the template.  I will give the straight dope on the concrete, verifiable elements without any bias to what I prefer.  Anything else on the list that is not concrete and verifiable is considered subjective and you will get my personal opinion on those things.  I would hate for you to base your decision to purchase or not purchase based upon subjective comments only.  Your style may not be my style.  My hope is that the concrete items will be your calling card as to whether you want to buy a pattern or not and all the rest is lagniappe (our fun Louisiana word for extras).  I also aim to provide you with full disclosure of my association with every pattern – where I purchased it (if I can remember), whether I have crocheted other patterns by this designer, if I personally know the designer, if the designer specifically asked for a review of their pattern, etc., so that there is no feelings of bias or inclusion.  I do not endorse any pattern designers and make a profit from that endorsement.

To recap before I put my first review up, which will be by the weekend –  I will give you the straight answers on the concrete questions that can be verified, I will give you my own opinion on additional items, and I will most likely give the pattern my own personal score in the form of a letter grade like you get in school.  I briefly considered using the letter grade scale from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but I hesitate to designate a pattern with a T for Troll should I have the unfortunate chance to come across such a pattern.  (By the way, I was placed in Gryffindor by the Sorting Hat on Pottermore!  Geaux Gryffs!)

I have created a separate page for my template which you can find by clicking the tab called Standard Checklist Template at the top of my blog page.  Until the weekend, get your crochet on!

250 Fan Giveaway! The pot has been sweetened!

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Before I post part 2 of my pattern review measuring stick and then post up my first review, I wanted to tell you about the giveaway on my business page.  The pot has been sweetened this morning with the addition of 5 free patterns (pattern packs not included) generously donated by Crochet By Jennifer.  If you have never purchased one of her patterns, now is a great time to look them over on Ravelry or on her fan page and see all the beautiful designs she provides.   To enter the contest, all you have to do is become a fan of my page, TumbleDownz, and my two sponsor’s pages, Funtography by Toni & Niki and Crochet By Jennifer.  There is a Rafflecopter giveaway icon in the menu bar under my Facebook timeline to enter.  Please drop by a give us all a shout!  We’d love to have you on board!!

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