Now, I consider myself to be a fairly competent knitter, and I rarely have trouble following pattern instructions, but sometimes construction is so fiddly on things like this that I just give up. This time, I found myself back in that space where you just want to knit one more row, complete one more part, just sew up the back before dinner, etc. This project had mojo to spare, and I think it was the quality of the pattern writing. There are progress photos for every step that's even remotely unusual, and the written directions are detailed enough that you can get past the "trust the pattern and just go forward" to "I can see what's happening before it happens!" It was so enjoyable that I didn't notice my hands protesting at the tight gauge, or that I had dozens of ends to weave in ;)
I had an epiphany a few years ago when I became good friends with Stacey at FreshStitches. Until that point, I don't think I'd purchased a pattern pdf for anything, knit or crochet. I had a couple of books, but in my mind, they were worth purchasing because of the solid, substantial *thing* you get to hold in your hand, the extensive photography, and how pretty they looked on my bookshelf. I thought, why would I pay for a pattern downloaded off the internet? Isn't the internet free? (I know, I know, nothing's free ;) ) There's no additional effort on the designers' parts if I click download one more time. And oh, how wrong I was...
I was able to watch her process (I was fortunate enough to spend some time as a pattern tester for her, which I am so thankful for in my financial situation), and I learned what goes into producing a well-written, clearly laid out, and esthetically pleasing pattern. The hours that go into designs are real, and designers' time is worth fair compensation. Stacey's patterns allowed a novice crocheter like me to make gifts for friends and family that look polished and professional, and didn't take hours and hours. I could apply my time efficiently because she'd put in the time and energy to produce a great pattern. The same thing happened with Abby Glassenberg's sewing patterns - several of which I've tried in the last year... my limited budget goes to pattern purchasing, and I sew from stash and end up with lovely things like owls for my younger niece, or the most perfect soft fleece bunnies that are just begging to be given to newborns. And this week I've found same thing applies to these wonderful knitted bunnies. If I'm being honest, knitting is my first love, and it's so rewarding to be able to use my knitting skills to make something so precious.
I believe it's so important to support designers who give us products and patterns we love... I also know that when you find a pattern, free or otherwise, you often get what you pay for (the only exception to this is when some of my beloved designers release free patterns as part of yarn collections or promotions - a good designer won't sacrifice quality when releasing a freebie). So support your favourite designers if you can. It's an investment in the quality of your own creations, and in future patterns for things you'll love.
And since this already sounds so much like a paid advertisement, which it isn't... here gathered in a list are my favourite designers and the patterns that I love :)
FreshStitches has my favourite dinosaur for little boys, and owl for little girls (although you could make either for either ;)) and her new book Modern Baby Crochet is brilliant - the funky argyle afghan is to die for...
Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps has two patterns (1 and 2) for a total of eight soft fleece loveys, and the adorable owl and baby
Little Cotton Rabbits has the bunny girl, her extra dress wardrobe, and my next purchase may be the fox boy (assuming my little boy doesn't grow up too fast and would still appreciate one of these!)