Crochet Alongs, or CAL for short is a crochet pattern made by an entire community at the same time.
These group projects are incredibly popular as they turn a solitary hobby into a social event where you can connect with other crocheters all over the world and use the collective support to maybe take on a project that is more advanced than you’ve tried before, knowing that your newfound friends will be there to help you when you get stuck.
These days Crochet Alongs are usually hosted in Facebook groups with part of the pattern being released each week for a specified period of time. No one can jump ahead, and the rest of the pattern won’t be available anywhere else until the next release date.
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How Did Crochet Alongs Start?
Before Facebook, crochet alongs were hosted in online forums. They were often very informal and were started by a few people who found a pattern they liked and decided to make it together. There was no input from the designer, and the project was certainly not designed to be a crochet along.
Of course this sort of crochet along has been popular for decades before the Internet with group projects like this happening in person at community centres or in people’s homes.
Crochet alongs started to appear in crochet magazines too, which is why some of the forum threads were created
2007 was the year the Crochet alongs that we know now, started to appear. They seem to have been inspired by the mystery make alongs in the patchwork world where they had been popular for some time.
These projects were deliberately created as a CAL by the designer and publicised as such from the get go. No one had ever seen the pattern before, and the first chance to see and give the pattern a try, was to join the official crochet along.
It was really the appearance of social media that allowed Crochet alongs to really come into there own and become the incredibly popular community projects we see now
CALs are really easy to find. Most of the big designers host one each year – Jamie Crow, Tinna, Crystals and Crochet and yarn brands host them too – Scheepjes, Stylecraft and Sirdar.
If you join their Facebook groups you will be able to find details of the next or previous crochet alongs, and previous CALs are usually listed on their websites with all the links and information you need to participate in the project.
You can also find the groups created for CALs by just searching for crochet along in Facebook.
Pinterest searches will bring up dozens of options, as will a search in Google
In fact you will have so many options, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the choice available. Now there are dozens of crochet alongs being released every year as they are a great way for newer designers to get their name out theer and show a sample of their work to a new audience.
Are Crochet Alongs Free To Join?
The communities created for the Crochet along are free to join, but whether the pattern is free is down to the designers choice.
The CALs hosted by yarn brands tend to be free, but those released by independent designers could be free or paid, or have both options.
If a designer has a free CAL, it is often hosted on their blog which is filled with adverts. These ads bring in revenue for the designer so that they can continue to offer their patterns. There will often be a paid version of the patterns which will be a pdf download free of ads. An example of this is the Ray Of Hope crochet along by The Cool Crochet society, where the patterns are available for free on the website, but you can purchase the ad free pdf for just £5
Some designers will only offer paid CALS, but may offer the pattern at a discount while the CAL is running.
How Do I Find The Right Yarn For A Crochet Along?
The yarn requirements for a CAL will be posted long before the Crochet along begins, so that everyone taking part has a chance to find and purchase their yarn.
The instructions will specify the yarn weight and how much of it you need. You don’t need to use the same brand as the designer, you just need to match the yarn weight.
Some CALs make finding your yarn easy by offering yarn packs. These are sold by participating stores and you will find the links in the advanced information for the CAL. Some popular yarn packs include Tinnas Queen CAL and Crystals and Crochet Octagonal kit
How Long Do Crochet Alongs Run For?
That varies from project to project. The typical length for a blanket is around 10 weeks, but The Cool Crochet Society blankets CALs are run over most of the year at 50 weeks.
I’ve seen crochet alongs for shawls that run over 7 weeks, anigurumi CALs run over 4 weeks and crochet alongs run for a bag over 3 weeks.
You can find a crochet along for just about any type of project, but blankets remain the most popular by a long way.
Does The CAL Group Close When The CAL Is Over?
The group created for the Crochet along usually stays open once the CAL ends. The hosts know that not everyone is able to keep up – life just gets in the way, and others will find the project half way through so will be catching up. Leaving the groups open means that those who find the pattern after the Crochet along has finished will have a place to find support and ask questions so they can complete the project more easily and can still be part of a community.
Designers who run crochet alongs every year will have multiple groups, one group for each project, each with its own community.
Many people stay members of these groups even after they complete the project so that they can stay in contact with the new friends they’ve made.
What Is The Difference Between A Crochet Along And A Make Along?
A Crochet along tends to be a pattern that is being made for the first time. A Make Along (MAL) is often a crochet along that is being run for a second time so the whole pattern is already available.
Make alongs are becoming as popular as crochet alongs, as new generations of crocheters want to get involved with CALs gone by. MALs are usually only hosted in groups with a very large number of members such as the Scheepjes International group. The Sophies Universe crochet along has recently been hosted as a MAL, and remains an incredibly popular project
Crochet Alongs are a brilliant way to turn what is usually a solitary hobby into a way to make new friends across the globe, and a great way to try something new and try a project that pushes your crochet skills, knowing that you will be supported by the whole community.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with crochet alongs, and which ones you’ve taken part in. Come on over to our Facebook group and show us.
When does your next cal start?
My next one will start in January, but my Ray Of Hope CAL is on right now and will finish in November x