Disappointments. They happen. Some are minor, like a recipe that didn’t turn out the way you expected, while others seem to drag on forever, like that time you excitedly bought brand new kitchen appliances for the first time in your life only to end up going a month without a fridge because Best Buy couldn’t get its shit together. (Ahem.) Other disappointments are even farther reaching.
In crochet, disappointment is thankfully low-impact and stems from things like seeing a photo of what appears to be a fantastic finished object only to discover the pattern is insanely complex or poorly written (or even worse, it’s knitted), or maybe the yarn you thought was suitable really isn’t, or when you finally have the finished object in your hands (after working hard on it for ages) it doesn’t live up to the photo you originally saw.
I’ve had three such crochet experiences myself so far.
Jolly Santa from Hell
This project came to me as a crochet kit from my mother at Christmas in 2015. It was supposed to be a fun stocking stuffer.
I didn’t enjoy this kit one bit. First and foremost it was not at all suitable for a noob. There were stitch instructions included but they made little sense and my first attempt was utter failure. (While I had knit a few times some years before, until Christmas 2015 I’d never crocheted.) By the time I attempted it for the second time I had learned enough of the needed stitches but the project was still a crapshoot. The first round’s instruction was badly described and my Google-fu failed me in finding similar examples so I ended up reaching out to the spouse of a friend in Australia for help, as she has many many years of experience in crochet…and she had issues with it too.
Once I got past that bit things seemed to improve…until I started finding typos. Quite frankly, if the typos are obvious to a noob who is as nooby as I was back then, the pattern is bad. The editor in me cringed and cringed some more each time I found another one.
In the end I managed to finish the stupid thing but I didn’t feel at all jolly about it. Mom felt bad too, and overall we were both disappointed the gift had flopped so hard. This project has a rating of “Ugh!” on my Ravelry page. (But at least it didn’t turn me off crochet completely!)
The Fugliest of Fugly Sweaters
I spent the first two years of my crochet hobby making amigurumi, but after taking a chance on ordering yarn from Expression Fiber Arts this past year (and then very quickly ordering a whole lot more of it, but more on that in another post), I decided I should branch out into clothing. Before actually using any of my EFA yarn, I also figured it would be wise to make my first proper garment out of something cheaper, as practice.
I chose this Caramel Cropped Sweater by Camelia Mit. Looks pretty spiffy! I love the design, though I immediately wanted to customize the pattern with a slightly longer (but still fitted) torso. It’s made almost entirely out of double crochet stitches and is worked from the top down to make custom fitting easier. Great!
What’s disappointing about this pattern? Nothing, actually. I look forward to making it again. It’s easy and well-written. The problem is the yarn I chose. The pattern calls for bulky yarn and I happened to have enough Lions Brand Unique in the Jewel colorway in my stash, so I went with that. Thing is, when I bought those skeins I didn’t realize “Jewel” meant “rainbow”. The skeins I picked up were all wound in such a way that only the purple/blue/dark green bits were really showing, and I didn’t poke into the skeins to investigate further, so I thought those were the only colors the yarn had been dyed in. Lesson learned.
Generally speaking, I don’t like rainbow yarn (except maybe this as an exception) and certainly not yarn that blends snot green and dark purple together! As soon as I started working on the sweater I saw what I was getting into color-wise, but it wasn’t until about a third of the torso was done that I realized the too-frequent color changes were resulting in very narrow stripes, and I don’t care for that either.
In the end I decided to push through and will finish the sweater simply for the experience (and yes I will try it again with different yarn at a later date), but good lord this version is hideous! I mean, everyone has at least one fugly sweater hiding in the dark recesses of their closet, whether or not it’s one that someone knitted or crocheted as a gift, but yikes. Definitely won’t be using that colorway again, even if the yarn itself is reasonably nice despite being 100% acrylic.
What will I do with the finished sweater? I haven’t decided. Some people with completely different color preferences have said they like it (and power to them!) so I might try to sell it to someone who will actually enjoy it.
The Ever-Growing Cardigan
I was so frustrated and disappointed over this one that I actually rage quit all crochet for about a week.
I decided to take an opportunity to test a pattern for a designer. Testing is what prudent designers do before publishing a pattern as “final”. The tester’s job is to find typos, problematic or unclear instructions, and otherwise assist in ensuring what the designer typed up actually produces the desired finished object. Nobody likes to work with a pattern that contains mistakes, and a designer’s reputation rides on having clear and easy to understand patterns just as much as it rides on the design itself being attractive for crafters to make in the first place. With my editing background, I figured I would enjoy the privilege of having access to someone’s newly-finished pattern before the rest of the world could see it while helping to make sure the pattern itself was clean.
I did enjoy it…at first. I had a few questions at the outset. Was I on the right track? Did the progress picture look correct? Yes? These were promptly answered and it seemed all was well. The pattern was an easy series of repeats and the shaping seemed to take care of itself. But then it came time to shape the arm holes and join the bust. The resulting arm holes were so tight I would have lost all blood circulation to my limbs and otherwise been strangled to death by the armpits. The pattern stated that if the holes were too small, simply add more stitches in multiples of four. So I did. Result? Holes that my arms fit through, but bigger holes also meant the bust ballooned out from the intended 36″ to a whopping 48″! Even worse was that the next few rows after the arm holes continued to increase the bust. This shirt was just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger…
I felt like I’d been careful to follow the pattern, and I’d kept gauge, so I was surprised that it had gone so wrong. Obviously as I was working on it I could see the project in my lap was getting bigger but I didn’t realize just how big until it was time to slip stitch the bust together and try the shirt on. Standing in front of the mirror… It was so huge another whole me could almost get inside it. I’d been working on the cardigan for a full eight hours by that point (it was a Saturday) so I knew everything I’d done that day would have to be frogged. There was no other way to fix it. Eight hours of work down the toilet. I was…unhappy.
When this happened I stopped and sent notes about the problem to the designer. There were some other items I had a few thoughts on too so tossed those in for good measure. Who knows? Maybe the problem was something simple that I’d missed (entirely possible!), or a simple typo in the pattern that threw it all off. Why should the size of the arm holes impact the bust so much? (In my mind, it shouldn’t, but to be fair I’ve never designed a shirt before.) Or, if the designer’s original finished object was created for a person larger than me (I am quite thin) then perhaps the pattern wasn’t scaled down properly for smaller people? Honestly, no idea. (This is why it’s important to test!)
Unfortunately, as of this writing the designer hasn’t responded to my notes (nor to the notes of another tester) so I’ve hibernated the project and won’t try to finish it. It’s a shame because the designer’s photo was really quite nice and I was looking forward to adding this cardigan to my wardrobe. Eventually, if I never hear back at all, I’ll just frog the whole thing and use the yarn for something else.
Update January 30, 2018: After three weeks of waiting, I finally received an automated email indicating that the comments I left on this pattern were “resolved”…but no responses to my questions and problems were offered by the designer. With no feedback or additional discussion to go on, I guess I’m at an impasse and can’t actually resolve or proceed with this project. I’m disappointed I didn’t get a direct reply, but I’m not going to chase after the designer either. I’ve also discovered the pattern has been posted on the designer’s website so it seems she has no interest in determining what went wrong. So, this one will be frogged and the yarn will go toward something else!
Despite these disappointments, I’ve pushed on with other projects. The fugly sweater is getting close to being done (and it fits!) so I’m looking forward to whatever I choose to do next. How about you? What crochet disappointments have you had and what did you do about them? Let me know in the comments!