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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!

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!

Hello fellow crochet enthusiasts and pattern hoarders!

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I’ve been meaning to create a blog for quite some time now but I just couldn’t think of anything new that someone else wasn’t already blogging about.  There are plenty of folks out there blogging about the latest project they are working on.  There are quite a few that like to create their own patterns and post them up for others to enjoy.  Although I am continually working on a project of some sort, they come rapid fire.  I work the project, complete it, and it’s on to the next project.  I have regrets about not taking more photos of certain projects.  I didn’t generally take a lot of photos because to be honest, I’m not really the best at photography nor do I particularly enjoy it.  However, in deciding to write this blog, I am going to have to learn to love it just a little.  I’m also not a pattern designer.  Sure, I can pick up a hook and a ball of yarn and whip up a hat or a scarf or the like without a pattern and sometimes I do just that.  But that is where it ends for me.  The item will be a one of a kind because I do not enjoy writing out all the instructions needed to turn it into a pattern.  Call me lazy if you want but I find it much more enjoyable to have a hook and yarn in my hand than sitting there cursing my lack of technical skills when it comes to creating a PDF file for a pattern.

So, I buy crochet patterns.  Lots and lots of crochet patterns.  You could say it is an addiction if you like and if you crochet, you have probably experienced the same addiction.  I have not actually sat down and taken a complete count of all of the patterns I have purchased but at this point I would guess it is somewhere around a few hundred.  I have resisted the need to organize them all into the nice neat little folders I created for them AFTER I realized that my patterns were getting out of hand.  Now I will have to pay for it.  It will take me hours to locate and refile them into one central location on my computer.  I have them in email, I have them in my Ravelry library, I have them in the Downloads file on my computer, I have them in duplicate folders that need to be combined.  You get the idea.

By now you’re thinking, “Just why is she telling me all of these things? What does it have to do with crochet pattern reviews?”  Well, reviewing crochet patterns that I purchase will force me to organize those files and create a document for each pattern to write notes that will help me if I make the pattern again in the future.  It will also force me to take more photos so that progress of a project can be shown and hopefully that will help improve my photography skills (which would improve even more if I would just listen to what hubby says when he tries to show me how to use all the features on the camera!).  Finally, it will provide you, the reader with a little bit of insight on what I,  at least, look for in a pattern – and maybe you look for those same things or have ideas you want to contribute as well.

I also need to tell you this – I am terrified!  I have not been able to find any crochet pattern reviews.  I’ve found sewing pattern reviews, but not crochet pattern reviews.  There may be someone out there doing them and if there is and you know about them, please let me know so I can go check them out.  But perhaps the lack of crochet pattern reviews is due to people being afraid to comment on the design work of others.  Surely I’m not the first person in the world to think of reviewing crochet patterns in a blog?!  So, maybe I’m taking a huge gamble here.  Maybe I’m opening a can of worms that should just stay sealed in the can but anyone that personally knows me will tell you that I’m not one to back down from a challenge – well, most of the time anyway.

In closing this first blog post let me tell you what I plan to enforce upon myself for reviewing crochet patterns – a focus on the positive aspects of the pattern, first and foremost, then a thought on what I’d like to see added to make the pattern more user friendly, and finally a number rating based on several criteria which I will post in my next rambling.  I want this to be a positive experience for me and the designer, should they stumble upon the review.  I will not allow myself or others to talk poorly of a designer.  We can all use constructive criticism but none of us need to endure destructive criticism.  Hopefully a designer can read my review and also the thoughts of others and use that to implement new ideas or fix problems so that they benefit from the review.

In my next posting I will be providing you with the criteria by which I plan to review.  I am hoping that you will contribute as well by telling me what you look for in a good pattern.  You will probably give me  a few ideas that I haven’t thought of yet.  Until next time, get your crochet on!

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