Want to dip your toes into crocheting? The National Park Service offers two free patterns that will surely make your first project a splash. Based on species of fish indigenous to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and Voyageurs National Park, these tutorials are designed for beginners and regular crocheters.
Ranger Hailey Burley put together two patterns which include necessary materials, instructions for all of the steps, and helpful photographs. One pattern is based on the halibut, specifically the Pacific halibut found in Alaska. “Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve protects over 950 square miles of ocean habitat,” the tutorial says. To get started, crafters will need two different colors of yarn, crochet hooks, fiber fill, and a pair of safety eyes. After completing the crochet pattern you add a pair of eyes on one side—as halibut fish are known for—and fill it with some stuffing. Burley advises: “Pacific halibut are a species of flatfish, so don't overfill!”
The other free pattern is based on the walleye fish. “Located in the lake-country of northern Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park protects 218,054 acres. This includes roughly 84,000 acres of water…A total of 54 fish species have been found in the park's aquatic habitats, but Walleye remains a favorite,” the tutorial explains. In the case of this project, Burkey recommends a multi-colored yarn, which will mimic the pattern of the real fish. After you're done crocheting, you can add the filling, which will result in an adorable fish plushie.
There are more rangers who have shared crochet projects inspired by the nature of national parks. One depicts a freshwater crustacean called a Triops, and requires the crafter to work on a smaller scale and incorporate extra detail. Another draws inspiration from the distinct formation of lava flows, which the crafter has used to make a pattern for a striking pillow. However, unlike the fish, these DIY projects are not as beginner-friendly.