Hopefully you have chosen your color and now we need to determine what size to make and how much yarn to order. As I mentioned last week, I chose Coffee. I ordered 10 balls to make size large. There has been some discrepancy in the pattern notes about the size worn by the model in Crochet So Fine, so I measured the original garment, and the sample sweater measures 36″ across the bust (a size medium, not large).
Over the years, I have found that many of us choose our pattern-size based on our bra-size. I believe it is because we are used to shopping for tops based on Small, Medium, Large, X-Large or with the American standard sizes of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, etc… When I see sweaters sized 32, 36, 40 I think of bra sizes.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, unless you want your sweater to be as snug as your undergarments! I received a great piece of advise a few years ago: lay out some of your favorite clothes on a flat surface and take the measurements of these items, as they include the amount of ease (extra inches for comfort) that you are accustomed to wearing. Those are the sizes you should be making in your stitched garments. Here is an example:
OK, so now you know how many yards (or balls) to order. When it arrives, you will need to work on gauge. I made gauge swatches with 3 different sized hooks because I thought it would be helpful to not only see the right sized swatch, but to also notice how subtle the difference is with the wrong sized swatches. I also took photos before and after blocking as this makes a huge difference in the gauge measurements, too.
Why is gauge so important? Specifically, why is a precise and accurate gauge so important? It is the difference between having a sweater fit or not. You wouldn’t go into a store and buy a size 2 when you need a size 14. And, you wouldn’t buy a size 18 if you needed a size 10. It may sound hard to believe, but if your gauge swatch is off by as little as 1/2″ it can mean being off by many sizes. For example, let’s say your gauge is supposed to be 4 sts/1″ and you came up with 3.5 sts/1″. On a size 36 pattern, your finished garment would turn out to be 31″. If you came up with 5st/1″ gauge, your same size 36″ bust pattern would create a finished garment sized 45″ bust.
Below are my 3 swatches. From left to right, I used an F/5 (3.75mm), G/6 (4mm) and H/8 (5mm) crochet hook. In the first photos the swatches are not blocked. From this photo, I would guess that the swatch on the left is the closest to gauge.
Next are my 3 swatches after blocking. I think blocking is one of the most important things to do to your swatch because we are talking about a garment that will get wet! Whether in the rain, or when laundered. You need to know how your fabric will react in water. Sometimes, the amount of gauge released in the blocking recedes a bit when the swatch dries, so it is important to not only block but allow it to dry before measuring.
Notice how much the swatches grew? If we had chosen the swatch on the right (like I guessed from the original photo) our finished garment (following the size 36″ bust pattern) would create a finished garment with a 45″ bust! Wow. That would be quite a difference!
Now we have decided what size sweater to make, ordered the appropriate amount of yarn, and determined our gauge from the swatches. Before we begin our sweater (in next week’s blog post), I want to share with you how and why I developed this sweater structure technique. After you understand the fundamentals of this design, I hope it will encourage you to crochet this sweater regardless of what size you want to make. This is also a top-down sweater design, the stitch gauge is a lot more important than the row gauge because you can alter the length of both the body and sleeves but just stopping when you reach your desired look.
Normally a round yoke sweater is increased incrementally in the rows from the narrowest point (neck) to the widest point (bottom of the yoke). In this super simple design concept, I use a percentage system to determine the neck, bust and yoke, but work all of the increases into the first row of stitches after the neck is crocheted. As long as you are using a lacy stitch that blocks well, the yoke will be flat. If you use a tighter stitch pattern that doesn’t stretch much in blocking, there will be some puckering at the neck. In some cases, with lighter fabrics, it is still an interesting texture and design element. In Pearl’s Cardigan, there is room for stretch in blocking, so the condensed increases don’t pucker and lay flat after blocking. However, the yoke will begin extremely ruffled but relax as your length grows (as you’ll see in future weeks).
When you know the bust measurement you desire for your sweater, the other calculations are easy to figure out. The neck measurement is 50% of the bust, and the yoke is 150% of the yoke. This means that if you need 4sts/1″ for size 36, 36×4=144 sts for the bust, then you would begin with 144 x 0.50 = 72 and you would need to have increased to 144 x 1.5 = 216 at the end of the yoke. From there, you would separate for front, back and sleeves, add underarm stitches to the sleeve and add the same number of sts to the body when joining the fronts (as we will discuss in the following weeks).
Best of luck swatching everyone. If you have swatch-related questions, make sure to jump in on the comments here or on our Ravelry CAL group!
As you may know, earlier this month, our hometown played host to New York Fashion Week, with presentations from dozens of top American designers. Last week, we featured an article from The Wall Street Journal Magazine highlighting how yarncrafts are making a return to the world of home design–and on the runways, it was great to see that the world of fashion is also following suit, with designers from established names like Vivienne Tam to the new generation of designers like Jen Kao featured crochet pieces and accents in their spring collections.
It’s so exciting to see how the yarncrafts inspire different areas of design!
Like many crafters, I inherited an enormous collection of buttons from my grandmother. Whenever I work on a cardigan, I search my collection for the perfect buttons. The color, shape, size, and design of buttons can really make a cardigan go from good to great. My most recent finished cardigan is the Marigold Sweater from the Summer 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. I love the vintage-inspired lace pattern, and I used a black yarn (LB Collection Superwash Merino in Night Sky) for a versatile fall cardigan.
When it came to find the buttons, I knew that I didn’t just want black ones, but I also didn’t want the buttons to detract from the stitch pattern. I opted for a round black button with a splash of sparkling around it. I love how the white complements the open sections of lace.
To stabilize the buttons, I used a little trick that you may know about: sew the front button to another one on the back! This helps your front button lay flat on the sweater, and it keeps the button more secure. I used some extra purple buttons that I had, but plain shirt buttons are perfect for this.
How have you used buttons to enhance your yarncrafting? Let us know in the comments!
This weekend, the Lion Brand team will be out at the New York Hall of Science in Queens for the FIRST EVER World Maker Faire–bringing our favorite DIY festival, featuring everything from food to robots to rockets to hand-crafts to our hometown of NYC.
In the area this weekend? Come by this two-day event (Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26) and–of course–stop by our booth. We’ll be featuring knitting and crochet lessons, weaving on a backstrap loom, machine knitting, and craft projects–and of course, lots and lots of YARN!
What other amazing things are happening with yarn? We’ll also have an incredible mini-NYC skyline and Coney Island amusement park made with yarn, and our friends, artists Robyn Love and Amy Caterina Hill will also be at the event. Robyn will be decorating one of the famous rockets with blocks knit and crocheted out of Hometown USA, while Amy will be showcasing her Fun Fur-covered car.
It’s going to be an amazing time for the whole family, and we really hope that we’ll see you there!
To get more info and to purchase tickets, click here.
To see our photos from the Bay Area Maker Faire in May 2010, click here.
Are you going to Maker Faire? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know!
My name is Kristin Omdahl and I am very excited to introduce the Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet Along! Pearl’s Cardigan is from my latest collection of crochet designs, published this summer in my second book, Crochet So Fine (Interweave). Over the next few weeks, together we will cover the entire process of making this sweater: from choosing colors to determining gauge with our swatches; determining the correct size sweater to make; crocheting from the line-by-line instructions and charts; making modifications; and blocking and finishing your sweater!
Please participate! Ask me questions! Let me know what YOU want to know from me! This is an interactive crochet-along and I’m so excited to hear from you. You can help me decide what else we need to discuss in further detail.
Pearl’s Cardigan is named after my great grandmother Pearl who was a beautiful Norwegian immigrant to the United States with a dream of becoming an actress in the 1920s. I imagine her wearing this cardigan with a silk scarf threaded through the belt holes and cinching her waist to fit.
So let’s get started! For the sample in “Crochet So Fine” I crocheted with Microspun‘s Blush colorway. It is a really pretty light dusty pink. Currently, I am inspired by the animal print trend on fashion runways. For the sweater I will be making in the coming weeks, I wanted to choose a color that would work with a leopard print fabric belt. I was torn between Coffee (below left) and Mocha (below right):
I really liked the way the leopard print would pop against Mocha, but realized I will be wearing this with sleeveless tops and wanted a better contrast against my skin. So, Coffee it is!
What color are you going to choose? Here are some of my favorites:
|Fuchsia – an intense hot pink. I think every girl can use a little hot pink in her wardrobe! A dark brown leather belt and dark denim jeans would look great with this hot color!|
|Blush – wear this sophisticated color over a crisp white blouse. Use your favorite floral silk scarf threaded through for a belt and wear over camel gabardine trousers at the office.|
|Lilac – one of my favorite colors to wear. Close this sweater with your favorite shawl pin or brooch. This would be pretty worn over a fit and flare dress (any Mad Men fans out there?)|
|Turquoise – if you have a tropical trip planned this winter, I think this color would be incredible over a pair of linen pants and matching camisole.|
Think about how you will wear your Pearl Cardigan. It can be worn loose and open, cinched with a belt through the waist, or pinned with your favorite shawl pin or brooch. Will you wear it to your office, on a trip, casually or dressy — or all of the above?
Next week, I will talk about gauge and measuring, we will make our gauge swatches and get started! This pattern has an unusual structure and in the coming weeks I will explain how I came up with the design. Through the explanation, it will become clear how to customize the pattern just for you! I will explain how to change the sleeve, body length, and even how to alter the patter to fit you beyond the sizes listed in the pattern.
Leave a comment and let us know what color you’ve chosen! Have a wonderful week, everyone!