I would call this pattern Easy, but someone newer to crochet may be a bit befuddled over the many strands. According to Standards, with the color changes, it would officially be considered Intermediate. You won't have to try to read or keep your place on a graph, though, so that makes it tons easier. I've written it all out for you in easy-to-follow format. The hardest thing you have to do is decide on your colors!
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Ch - chain
Sc - single crochet
Slst - slip stitch
FLO - front loop only
RS/WS - Right Side/Wrong Side
FO - finish off (to cut and sew in an end)
And that's it! Not a lot to remember! There are more stitches used in some of the finishing, but as far as the squares go, it's all easy-peasy.
In this project we will be using Intarsia Crochet to set in new colors within our afghan squares. Intarsia Crochet differs from Tapestry Crochet simply by never crocheting over any unused strands or allowing strands to 'float' (stretch across on the WS of your work). Using the Intarsia method will get you the neatest, flattest result. The finished project will be clean lines, perfectly neat Wrong Sides of the fabric, and no areas that are thicker or taller or have hints of dark strands showing through. This patten is written to intentionally be made of simple shapes and to cut down on the number of ends to sew in later.*
Beginning a new color in Intarisa is done simply by completing your single crochet with the new color. Be sure to leave beginning and ending tails long enough to properly sew in later. This is a standard color change in crochet and probably most every crocheter has done it before, You will need a separate strand for each color in that row and you will drop them or pick them up as needed, crocheting with only one color at a time.
A sc all but completed... you pick up the next color...
... and pull it through. Color change (and stitch) completed!
The most important thing to remember in Intarsia Crochet is which is the Wrong Side of the fabric. Any dropped or unused strands need to be toward the Wrong Side. When working from the Right Side, you will push unused/dropped strands behind your work and when working from the Wrong Side, you will pull unused/dropped strands toward you before making that next stitch in the new color. It may help to place a marker on the RS to remind you until you have enough strands going that the RS/WS becomes more obvious.
Joining a new color on the WS of the fabric, you pull that tail toward you.
And when you change colors again on the WS of the fabric, you pull the dropped color toward you before making the next stitch.
When you are working on the RS of the fabric, you will pushed tails and dropped colors behind the fabric.
Short Recap:- Complete a stitch with a new color (the pull through 2 part at the end of making a sc).
- Never crochet over any strands (including tails!) Sew them in with a sharp needle!
- Push or Pull your tails and dropped colors to the WS off the fabric.
There can be anywhere from 3 to 5 working strands at one time while making these squares. Those strands can get easily tangled if you aren't consistent when turning your work. Here's how I handle this:
1. Keep your colors lined up in front of you - whether it be on a flat surface on in a basket at your feet - in the order in which they appear on the Right Side of the fabric. When a new color is joined, place that yarn ball/skein in its proper place, too.
2. When turning to work on the Wrong Side, always turn the same direction (clockwise).
3. When turning again to work the next Right Side, turn it the opposite way (counter-clockwise).
Continue this Clockwise, Counter-Clockwise turning consistently throughout your work.
If you always remember this, your strands can't get too bad. If you do see 2 strands trying to twist on one another, go ahead and fix those before it gets too crazy. The longer you leave it, the worse it gets and if you end up having to cut it to get it straightened out, that's just a lot more ends you will have to sew in!
There are some places in a few of the squares that I will give a tip about attaching a relatively short piece to do a specific section rather than attaching an entire new ball. These suggested lengths are based on my gauge, so if you aren't sure your gauge matches mine, your should treat this number as a minimum.
Another important thing to do is to be sure you are working from yarn that isn't going to tangle on itself. If needed, ball or wind your yarn before beginning. Personally, I like to work from the skein initially, but know that it can cave in on itself and become tangled as the core of the skein becomes more hollow. Some brands of yarn are worse about this than others. If I am at a stopping point (between squares) with less than half a skein left, I will usually go ahead and ball that before beginning the next square just so it is less likely I am fighting with tangles and it messes up my tension.
Reading the Pattern
I mentioned above that you won't need to read or follow a graph. It's all written out for you. And it's written simply without a ton of obvious things like 'change colors here' when you know you are going to be changing colors anyway. Each color for each row of the pattern has its own line, so it is easy to see at a glance how many stitches to do.
Here's a line of one of the patterns.
Below it are the explanations (numbered in purple)
1. A reminder of what side of the fabric you are on. These usually just show up when new colors are to be added. The rest of the time you will know that an odd numbered row is the RS.
2. This is the color you are using for those stitches.
3. 18 sc in (MC) aka your Main Color.
4. The color changes are understood. If you're not to the end of the row yet, you know you will need to change to the next color and keep going. This row has 4 color changes - MC to AC to W to AC to MC. You do 18 sc in the (MC), changing to (AC) to complete the 18th stitch. You do 3 sc in (AC), changing to (W) to complete the 3rd stitch. And so on, changing to the new color in the last stitch of a sequence until you've done your 48 stitches total.
5. At the end of the row you will see to Ch1, turn. You won't be changing colors here and will beginning with your current color again on the next row.
6. These are your line totals and a recap of what you just did (I've dropped the 'C' in MC and AC here to simplify it). Once you get into a groove, you can crochet entirely by the line totals. It goes really fast then. It's like a little cheat sheet.
Sometimes you will see instructions to join a new ball of color or to FO that ball of color. You only FO when you're finished with it or if you need to rejoin it in a totally different spot on the next row.
And a few times you will see little notes like this that will suggest joining just a short length rather than a whole new ball. This is because that section won't last very long.
When you come to the different features and the finishing instructions, there will be more stitches than these to deal with, though all pretty basic. I will wait to explain those on that particular page to save you needing to flip back and forth or try to remember where you saw that thing about that thing.
*Fox Terrier is an easy shape to begin with and intended to be a fast project for experienced crocheters and a great introduction to working with multiple strands for newer crocheters. In future I will be released more dog breeds as 12inch squares that you can mix and match into this basic crochet pattern to customize for your favorite dogs or dog-lovers!