My friend S sent me a pattern for a crochet bag after I shared this. It's from Katy Bevan's book, Instant Expert Crochet. Great! This pattern looks a lot like a favourite crochet net bag of mine. It lives in my handbag and is perfect for those times when I just need to stop and buy this and that at the supermarket. Yesterday I decided to have a go at it. I pulled out some indigo-dyed 8-ply cotton, untangled and wound off the skeins and felt ready to go.
Here's where the "trial and error" bit comes in. The bag consists of three main sections: a circular base, a net body and a top border with handles. I had a quick look at the pattern for the base. I thought I had the idea, so off I went. After a few rounds the pattern seemed to have settled into a steady pattern of increases, so I just kept going . . . until it didn't look right. I checked the pattern, ripped out my work and tried again. Still not right. OK, now I did what I should have done in the first place. I printed off the pattern--I'd been just glancing at the PDF document to get the right idea. With the pattern in front of me and a pen at the ready I carefully stitched through the instructions round by round, underlining the variation and ticking off each row as I finished it. The result was quite a convincing circular base.
The body of the bag is made up of a simple crochet net. The same pattern is repeated sixteen times to form a simple cylinder. Off I went. Now my problem was simply the repetitive nature of the task: the same six stitch pattern over and over. Twelve repetitions per round. Sixteen rounds. I marked them off as went. I took a break after every round or two. Round and around. Ho hum! It looks pretty good, but I'm not going to be making a lot of these bags. Every now and then I wondered how tall the bag would be. As I got to the last few rounds I was starting to doubt the pattern, especially in comparison with my old favourite which I'd slung over the chair next to me, but I persisted.
Sixteen rounds of net completed, I looked at the instructions for the border and handles. I couldn't quite make sense of them. There was an abreviation that I didn't recognise. All of a sudden I thought that this might be a US pattern. In that case I had been mis-interpreting every stitch of the sixteen rounds I'd just completed. I thought about adding height by working a few more rounds. I took another break, looked at the bag again and decided to rip it out. In ten minutes my afternoon's work was gone. There I was with two neatly wound balls of indigo-dyed cotton on the table in front of me.
This morning I had another look at the pattern. It doesn't seem to be written in US terms. The crochet hook size is 4 mm. There are no "single crochet" stitches which is always a give-away. Maybe the bag would have stretched to shape. I don't know. I still think it's a good pattern. I'll probably try it again some time--probably with a few modifications. Oh, and I won't try to get it done in an afternoon. And next time I try a new pattern I will remember that golden rule which I repeat to my students over and over and over again: "The first step is always to read the pattern carefully from beginning to end!"