May 24th, 2012
Hello fellow yarn crafters! My name is Vanessa, and I will be your host for this Crochet-Along. I am one of the store associates at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, Lion Brand’s store and education center in NYC. I have a degree in fashion design, and I have been knitting for fifteen years and crocheting for seven years. The project that we’ll be working on for the next several weeks is the Glittery Shrug pattern done in Vanna’s Glamour yarn. Don’t worry if you haven’t done a gauge swatch yet. Even if you have not yet selected your yarn, this post will help guide you in the right direction, as well as provide you with helpful tips.
Let’s talk about choosing a yarn. I’ll be using Vanna’s Glamour as recommended in the pattern. This is a great choice because the yarn is easy to work with, comes in great colors, is not overwhelmingly sparkly, and is also quite comfortable! I chose the Purple Topaz color because it is a more unusual color without being too “out there,” and it’s a fun color that I knew I wouldn’t get tired of. If you want something more solid and demure, you could use LB 1878, which comes in solid colors, or consider Sock-Ease or Jamie, which come in both solids and stripes. I did a swatch in Sock-Ease in Cotton Candy and Jamie in Peachy. One thing I did notice with these swatches is that because Sock-Ease is a thinner, fingering weight yarn (Vanna’s Glamour is a sport weight), the swatch was more drapey and open than the Vanna’s Glamour swatch. It was the opposite with Jamie; this yarn is thicker and has more density and structure in the single crochet at this gauge. If you desire a garment with more structure, then this would be a good choice. However, if you want a garment that has more drape, then stick with Vanna’s Glamour or go with something thinner like LB 1878 or Sock-Ease. This is a good chance to use a sock yarn like Sock-Ease! If you are not a sock maker, this is an easy, relatively quick garment that will show off the self-striping effect that Sock-Ease has without having to make socks!
Making a Gauge Swatch
So now that you’ve chosen a yarn, the next step is to do your gauge swatch! Gauge is very important, especially for garments, because you want to ensure the correct fit. If your gauge is correct, then your project will come out as the size and shape you want it to. I usually start with the recommended hook size for the project and then adjust from there. The recommended hooks for this shrug are the G and E hooks, but your gauge swatching will be done with the larger hook. I already know I’m a little bit of a loose crocheter, so I usually expect to go down at least one hook size.
Gauge swatching with single crochet (I’ll abbreviate single crochet as “sc” from here) is very easy because sc remains a rather static and stiffer fabric, so you do not need to add stitches and rows to your swatch to attain an accurate gauge. For this project, the sc gauge is 21 stitches x 26 rows = 4″ x 4″, meaning for this swatch you would chain 22 stitches (because you start one chain in from the hook) and work 26 rows. This way when you measure your gauge you can measure edge to edge. When I did my swatch with the G hook, it came out to be 4.25 inches, so I needed to try a smaller hook size. I ended up getting the exact 4″ x 4″ measurement with an F hook. Do this swatch first so that you can check your dc mesh swatch with your decided larger hook.
The gauge swatch for the double crochet (dc) mesh pattern is a little trickier. Unlike sc, this stitch is more stretchy and drapey, so you will need to make your gauge swatch a little bit larger and measure in the middle to get an accurate measurement. The gauge for the dc stitch is only for rows. It’s good to know your stitch gauge for this swatch to save for later, but if you don’t plan on making any changes to or resizing the pattern then you will not need to worry about it. I, however, will be making some sizing changes since I am a very small person. If you want to adjust your pattern along with me, check your stitch gauge for the dc mesh swatch as well as the row gauge. You can get the dc mesh stitch from the pattern itself in the “Upper Half” section. From looking at the pattern, I can see that the mesh stitch has a repeat of 2 stitches, and you chain 3 stitches at the end of every row. So I chained 33 stitches for my swatch – 30 for the mesh stitch itself and 3 extra chains to count as my first dc + ch stitch at the beginning of the rows. I also worked more rows, 14 instead of 10 for some safety fabric, and then measured the swatch across 10 rows. For me, 10 rows does indeed equal 4 inches.
If you are having trouble getting gauge or are riding between two sizes with neither of them quite equaling what you need, try switching to a different hook material. You can get hooks in plastic, metal or wood, and switching between these can have an effect on your stitch size, which is helpful to know for getting gauge. Click here for a little more information on hook material.
Once you have successfully determined your main, larger hook, your smaller hook will be two sizes smaller than this one. Since I am using an F hook, I will be using a D hook for the trim. The smaller hook will only be used for the trim, so you only need to have the larger hook right away to get started.
Good luck with your gauge swatches, everyone! If you are feeling antsy about starting and are planning on working the pattern as-is without any changes, then feel free to start! For any of you who would like tips about resizing your garment before you start, stick around for next week, when I will be discussing easy ways to customize your garment to your shape and size! Please continue to post comments, questions and pictures in the comment section! I would love to know which yarns and colors everyone has chosen for their projects!