Here's another crochet-skills-building exercise I've worked through. These place mats are rectangles of crochet mesh, and my big accomplishment is that I have the same number of stitches on each row. At least in the case of mesh stitches worked in yarn, I'm now able to create actual rectangles, sporting lovely parallel sides.
I changed color several times in the mesh pattern, to make stripes, and then I took advantage of the "holes" in the mesh to slip stitch perpendicular stripes over the top of the mats. I've been fascinated by crochet faux-plaid patterns, and it happens to be a simple design to make, one that doesn't require much advance planning. It's perfect for using left-over bits and pieces from other projects.