Having seen numerous female family members be sucked into the void that is crafting-for-others, I made it a firm rule when I started knitting and crocheting to make nothing that was not for family or very close friends. And even they usually reciprocate with something they can do that I can't. For example, I've gotten two excellent tattoos from my best friend for the price of pizza, beer, and a hooded shrug. All about the barter system.
My basic rule: if I wouldn't give you a kidney, you're not getting a scarf.
I did the opposite-learned to knit a year ago, and then taught myself crochet about six months ago. I enjoy doing both, and they can be fun to combine. I learned both techniques from the Stitch and Bitch books, which have great patterns for both knit and crochet. I have to admit that crochet's been saving my ass with holiday crafts, though. My scarf time is much faster. No guilt for my needles, in this case. We have a strictly business relationship. They don't ask what I do with the hooks, and I don't ask what they do in the old whiskey container that is their home.
I agree with the suckiness of many crochet patterns out there. Happy Hooker is great, though. And i think it's possible to modify the one in Crochet Me to your specs. With regard to knitting, it's not that hard to make sweaters. My advice to to get some circulars and try a top down raglan. There's formulas for these everywhere on the internet. They're easy, customizable, and, if you're intimidated by double pointed needles, you can just knit the sleeves flat and seam them.
I'm in holiday crafting crisis mode, and I just finished a bunch of crochet scarves. I find the best way is to take two different yarns (preferably different textures), grab a big-ass hook, and either single or double crochet all the way, depending on the drape you want. I just made some nice ones with Paton's Divine and Bernat's Harmony. They're supersoft and squishy, and my boyfriend keeps stealing the one I made for myself.
I used to live in Labrador (think -60 degrees Celcius in January), so I have experience with this. I have relatively short hair, so tying it back isn't an option. The best thing to do is make your hats slightly larger than normal. Say, a 23 inch hat on a 22 inch head. That gives your hair room, and it won't flatten out. If the hats are already made, try using a volumising product and, when you get to work, flip your head upside down and fluff it up a bit. That usually works for me. I now live in Ontario, which isn't as bad, but this works for me all winter. I also love my huge collection of hats.
What size hook did you end up using? Did you get guage with it? How many balls did you use?
Sorry for all the questions, but I'd LOVE to make the Frou-Frou, and now that I've seen how lovely yours looks in that yarn I might be able to afford it!
I used a 6.5 mm hook, since I couldn't find a 7mm, but I got gauge anyway. I think I bought about 12 balls of Satin to make sure I had enough, but only ended up using about 9 1/2. It's quite comfy, and the Satin is nice against the skin, unlike most acrylics. Since I'm a student, I'm all about the cheap yarns. ^_^
And, how are you going to go about the all-mesh shirt? If you use a pattern, can you post what pattern you're using?
Still working on this. Trying to draft out my own pattern. It might be a while before I get around to it, because I still have to finish the skullholder afghan. And a modified PDQ. And two sweaters I'm knitting...