I am excited that I just finished making this cute crochet "pond friends" stacking toy for my baby boy. (he has a bug themed nursery) The pattern is available for free from Lion Brand Yarn. I've made several of their free patterns. They really have quite a selection of great projects!
I really enjoy crocheting...it's an easy thing to take with you on a plane trip or car ride, and a relaxing way to past time while creating something original. You don't even need to be an artist to create something beautiful with crochet...you just need to learn some stitches.
Ever since I watched my mom make a beautiful afghan for my first son a few years ago, using bright colors and a variation of blocks from Jan Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks" book, I was inspired to learn to crochet. I bought the same book, which has a few pages of instructions to get started, and taught myself how to crochet with it. I didn't see myself having the patience to create a king sized afghan with one repeating stitch in one color, so this book was a great way to keep my interest while learning all kinds of stitches. Being able to reach completion quickly with each square, rather than one continuous piece, helped me feel as though I was accomplishing things quickly and made the goal of a whole afghan seem less daunting. Also, the ability to switch up with different blocks helped keep me from getting bored with one color or pattern.
Once I mastered 2-dimensional objects like afghans, I went on to try 3-dimensional objects, such as amigurumi toys. The Lion Brand website has many great, simple amigurumi toy patterns to get you started, and they really aren't as hard as you may think. I really enjoy making these the most, being a 3-dimensional industrial designer. After making a few toys, I was able to start understanding how to create various basic 3D shapes, enabling me to start designing my own toys.
The first toy that I made up as I went was an Olivia the Pig toy for my niece who is also named Olivia. I wanted to buy her one for Christmas to go along with an Olivia book I had gotten her, but with no luck finding one I liked, I decided to try making one. I wish I had written down what I was doing as I went, as I've had a few people suggest that I make a pattern to sell for this (...although I'm not sure I could sell a copyrighted character pattern). So, after that, I began jotting down what I was doing and I created a robot and a space ship for my son, which are now my first patterns available online.
these cute bunny blankies. I even modified this pattern slightly, to create a monkey blankie for a friend's baby. There's just something about hand made gifts that you can't get from a store!
If you're into crochet, I suggest that you check out Ravelry, an online community for people who love to knit and crochet. It's a little cumbersome to get started as you have to ask to join and then wait to receive an email invitation, and have to sign up for a Flickr account to post photos of your project. But, once you get going, it's a great place to archive all of your projects, share with other crocheters, sell your own patterns, and find endless patterns and projects to create! If you find yourself there, look me up and we can be friends! ;-)