It is suitably apposite that I'm writing something about patterns for a publication while following a pattern. And I can't tell you how good it has been to use one for a change. It's two years since I simply chose to make something I liked the look of in a book. What a blessed relief it has been to have it all mapped out for me: the design, the instructions, the shapes, the colours, the end point. The only slight problem was that it was a Japanese pattern written in Japanese, but I felt that this was a minor challenge after starting from scratch as I have been doing.
The minute I saw the crochet blanket made out of hexagons in this book (ISBN 978-4-07-262220-9, also here), I knew I wanted to make it at some point. I'm a real sucker for old-fashioned looking crochet with its shapes, lines, and wonderful colour combinations. In fact, it was the colours that struck me most as they are fresh, modern and interesting, and bring together shades I probably would not have thought of myself. This, in essence, is the joy of patterns: all the hard work and thinking and planning has been done for you, and you are free to enjoy the making, to watch the whole coming together in parts, to let your mind wander down any path it likes while your hands are guided by someone else's instructions.
The most satisfying aspect of it was forcing myself to decipher the basic motif pattern. I've only ever been to a single, one-day crochet workshop so am not exactly well-versed in crochet techniques and pattern-reading. But instead of giving up at the first hurdle - my initial efforts to follow the diagrams that all Japanese patterns use instead of written instructions were absolute mangled disasters - I persevered until I made a hexagon correctly. I used the Harmony Guides Volumes 6 and 7 plus a couple of other Japanese crochet books to show me what each little squiggle and line means in diagrammatic patterns, and it was one of the major triumphs of my year when the diagram became a crocheted hexagon.
I have spent the last couple of months making a few hexagons an evening when I have felt like it; crochet appeals to my inner slob and I love the way I can lounge comfortably when crocheting in a way I can't when knitting, plus a hexagon or two hardly puts me under pressure whereas with knitting I often feel compelled to complete a set amount at a time.
I couldn't use the exact yarn in the pattern partly as I have no idea what it is (it's all in Japanese) so I used Biggan Design (on a 4mm hook) which is wonderful to knit and crochet with, and comes in 64 colours, so offered everything I needed. As to colours, I simply looked carefully at the photos in the book and used what I thought was included. The only changes I made were to the final layout of the hexagons and to the placement of the colours as I decided to follow my own instincts rather than work out the chart given.
So here we have it. The result of two months' very relaxed crocheting. There's a lot to be said for happy pattern-following.