Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Question From Reader: Skill Level

Dear Dee,
I read where you wrote about making things and giving them as gifts. I recently learned how to crochet but am not sure about my skill level. I want to make scarves for my family this year but want them to look nice. When I'm looking at patterns, how do I figure out what skill level I am? Thanks, Lisa

Dear Lisa,
Thank you for writing in; I think it's wonderful that you're considering crocheting scarves for your family this year. I tend to think of scarves as "extended hugs" -- and everyone can use a hug/scarf now & then, right? :)

You stated you recently learned how to crochet, this means your skill level will depend upon how much practice you've put in. Over at the Craft Yarn Council of America's "Yarn Standards" website they have four levels listed:
Beginner, Easy, Intermediate,and experienced. The levels are just guides -- don't let them stop you from crocheting something you have your heart set upon!

If you are comfortable with the basic crochet stitches (mostly knowing how to create the foundation chain, the single crochet, half-double, double) then you are a beginner.  Look for patterns that focus on the stitches you know where little shaping is required.

If you are comfortable with mixing your stitches up and can do color changes with some shaping, then you're in the "easy" category.  I don't like calling someone's skill level as  "easy" (it just doesn't sound right! lol)  so I'll refer to it as advanced beginner.  Look for patterns that have repetition in the stitch work. 

If you are comfortable with color changes and stitch variations, along with shaping, then you might want to look beyond making scarves ... caplets and ponchos are still hot items to create!  This is the intermediate level.

If you are comfortable with difficult stitch patterns (like the Herringbone stitch), can do a variety of crochet techniques, can shape your work, work with a variety of fiber weights, and create finishing touches, then this makes you an experienced crocheter.  I often times refer to this level as the advanced level.  The fiber world is your oyster --go and pluck your purls.  (Yes, crocheters can purl, and if you know how, then surely this is your category!)

The key is not to be intimated by your level.  These levels were created to help crocheters choose projects they may be more comfortable in doing -- or in challenging themselves with!  I say, if you can read the pattern, understand the stitches involved, and can keep accurate count of stitches/rows, then go ahead and work on the pattern(s) you have in mind for the gifts you'd like to give.

Remember to always leave long tails at the beginning and end of your work -- and properly weave them in!  If you run out of time, consider giving a "gift certificate" that states what you will be creating for the receiver.  You can even opt to let them pick the color(s)!

I hope this helps, Lisa, and should you run into any stitch difficulties, give AnniesAttic a visit as they have little video clips you can watch on your PC for free. 
Thanks again for writing in,

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