What inspires you to begin a particular, spectacular pattern? I find inspiration everywhere. Maybe it's a picture in a pattern book or magazine, a stunning top I catch a glimpse of when I am strolling downtown or trolling the internet, perhaps it's even a silky soft or exquisitely colored ball of yarn I spot at my LYS. I even find inspiration from you.
While perusing Ravelry about a week ago, I discovered several beautiful projects created from Amy O'Neill Houck's Baby Doll Dress pattern, which can be found either in Interweave Crochet Spring 2008 or CrochetMe: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution. I immediately dove into my yarn stash and found a fabulous lime green yarn. Out came the crochet hooks.
The pattern instructed me to make the bodice with a size G/6 hook. I remembered that particular hook being red, so I picked it up and away I crocheted. Swatch first. Swatching, as uninspiring as it may be, can be truly critical. When I measured my swatch I discovered it was too big. The next hook size down would be a size F/5 hook. But the 2nd swatch was too small. Thoroughly confused, I pulled out both hooks.
This was when I discovered my error, a little color error with potentially disastrous consequences. My "G/6" hook had really been an H/8 hook, and when that swatch had been too big, I had skipped the G/6 and gone with an F/5. Chagrinned at my silly mistake, I sheepishly pulled out the real size G/6 hook. This swatch was just right. I took a picture of all three swatches lined up next to each other so you can see the difference one hook size can make.
Magnify that into the entire garment and you can see how great of a size difference your garment might have if you don't crochet to gauge. Now, with my gauge not too big and not too small but just right, I begin crocheting the bodice.