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Glittery Shrug Crochet-Along: Choosing a Yarn and Gauge Swatching

May 24th, 2012

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VanessaHello 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.

Yarn Selection

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!

Sock-Ease and Jamie Swatches

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.

Vanna's Glamour Swatches

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!

Related links:

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rae-Gallaher/1161787116 Rae Gallaher

    Thanks for the tip on making the dc-mesh swatch larger. That will be helpful when I do my swatches tonight.

  • SAM

    I am VERY excited about doing this Glittery Shrug.  I will be using the Vanna’s Glamour Topaz as the pattern calls for and will do my swathes.  CANNOT wait to get started!!!!!!!

    Sharon McIndoe, Pittsburgh, PA

  • Kelly Herring

    I am so excited about this Glittery Shrug!! I have already started and am half-way finished with the upper portion.  I have found that when I used the yarn called for in the pattern, that I also use the recommended hook sizes also.  Many time I do a gauge swatch to make sure and I ALWAYS do a gauge swatch if I choose my own yarn instead of the one recommended. So far, my sc and mesh are working up nicely! I am interested to see how these pieces are put together to make the shrug.  I chose, Vanna’s Glamour Topaz.  I wanted the Copper, but my store didn’t have enough skeins in Copper and I wanted to get started right away.  Maybe, I’ll have to make two?! Haha. Lol!

  • Rhyones3

    I got my yarn today.  I am using the Vanna’s Glamour in Lapis.  I may try and get my swatch done tonight before the holiday weekend.  I am also a loose crocheter so will start with a size smaller hook and see what happens.  I will be interest in your tips for altering the pattern.  Although I have been crocheting for years (like about 55 years), I have never learned how to alter a pattern.  Never too old to learn…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.remenicky Lori Remenicky

    I bought my yarn this week. I am using Patons Lace in Vintage.  I have never done a project where the guage is so important, I am looking forward to it!  Wish me luck…

    • CatalpaKay

      I am using Patons Lace as well.  Having trouble with the guage swatch.  Have gone down to an E hook for the larger hook and still getting less stitches in 4 inchs (at about 18).   Don’t really want to go to a hook any smaller.  How small would the smaller hook need to be.   Let me know how you are making out.

  • Robin Brzozowski

    I’m using Bernat Baby Sport in White.  I had lots on hand and I think it will be a fine substitute.  I know white is plain, but it will go with everything!! Gauge swatching tonight!

  • Bethany

    Thanks for the tips! I’m really surprised at how my swatch is going, because I typically crochet tightly, but I’ve already gone down one hook size (my swatch was 5″ wide several rows in) and my F hook already seems too large as well. I’m going to do a few more rows to see if it changes. I am using Vanna’s Glamour (I went with the copper color, as I have red hair and am working on expanding the browns in my wardrobe) and am wondering if the weight of the yarn is changing my tension.

  • Lindaostruszka

    This is the 1st time I have ever done a swatch and I’m glad I did had to go down to E and G hook.

  • Jlmichael

    I have my swatch done. I am always nervous about measuring it. Ok, here goes…oh my, it is 4 1/2 inches. Should I go down 1 or two sizes?

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi JImichael, start by going down one size. Unless the difference is very large, it’s always best to go  down size by size when swatching for gauge, since just a little bit of a change will add up a lot across the sum total of your stitches. Hope that helps!

      • Jean Michael

        Sweet. I am correct now with the f hook on the width gauge but my row gauge is about a quarter of an inch off. I think I like it longer anyway so I think I will be ok.

        • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

          Stitch gauge will be more important than row gauge for the sc swatch anyway, since this pattern mostly gives the length (that you’re working until) in inches–so you should be just fine!

  • Lewisml

    My mom and I just ordered our yarn.  I am going to make mine in Copper and she is going to use moonstone. We are excited to get the yarn and start working. She was the one who taught me the basics, and now we are going to do a project together. :)

    • Lindy

      That’s great for the two of you!   Much more fun working together which is why I like this crochetalong - my daughter isn’t a ‘crafter’  :(

  • Klemelson

    I ordered my yarn and am expecting it on Tuesday. This will be my first garment and first time I’ll do a test swatch. I’m looking forward to the fitting and altering tips next week.

  • Janie

    I am so excited to make this shrug with everyone.  I have crocheted for many years and have made a kazillion afghans.  I never seem to be able to crochet somethimg to wear and have it come out right. With all of the great support, I just know that this time I will be successful. I got Vanna’s Glamour in sapphire.

    • Lindy

      Sapphire is beautiful.  I was considering it but went with the topaz…..   I also liked the purple but there wasn’t quite enough “bling”, “sparkle” to it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1660313151 Marcye Coogan

    How long is the crochet along on for? I still need to purchase my yarn.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Marcye, we should be working on the project for the next four weeks, but keep in mind that the blog posts will stay available indefinitely and that you are welcome to work at your own pace!

    • Lindy

      Hi Marcye – there’s no way I’ll be finished with this project in four weeks so I’m sure you and I will be tagging along after the others – and I’m sure we won’t be the only two people lagging behind – we can plan to do something on a timeline but then “life” gets in the way!  LOL

  • Carol Clark

    I will be working this project in light sport alpaca.  I think the drape will be beautiful!

  • Leigh0506

    I went with the Topaz as well since I think it will go well with lots of things. I did my swatch today and it’s 4.5 in on the G hook. I’ll try the F tomorrow to see if it reduces the size any. I’m surprised that it was bigger because I normally crochet very tight stitches and I expected it to be a lot smaller. Interesting.

  • Rhyones3

    OK, I don’t know how often this happens to me but I tried my first swatch with an F hook and it came out 4 1/4 inches, so I went down to an E hook and my size again came out 4 1/4 inches.  Now what do I do?  Try going down another size?  Does this happen to anyone else?  Sometimes it just seem that a yarn, no matter what size hook, works up to just a certain size.

    • Tjcoll

      I had the same problem.  I tried a G, F, then finally got the gauge with an E for the sc.    Now I did the dc gauge with the same E hook and it and the wideth was 4″ but need to add an additional row instead of 10 rows I need 11 for a perfect 4″ square.  I wonder if it will matter if I use the same E hook for the border. 

    • Pattyb1

      My swatches did the same…2 different hooks, same size swatch.  So I will try with the next size down.  We’ll see what happens!!

  • Rhyones3

    Now the size D hook is working up to 3 1/2 inches.  What do I try now?

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi there, re-read the paragraph just below the Vanna’s Glamour swatch photo in the post above. You’ll see that we recommend that you try hooks of different materials–as sometimes that will effect your gauge. 

      You may also want to try making a bigger swatch with the E hook (since that was your middle size hook that you’ve tried) and measuring again–the bigger the swatch, the more opportunity you’ll have to crochet in your natural rhythm, and therefore the more accurate it will be. Hope that helps!

  • Pattyb1

    Do we measure swatches after blocking? These are my unblocked measurements: SC swatches G hook 4”h x 4.25”w unblocked, F hook 3.75” h x 4.25” w unblocked DC swatch G hook 10 rows 3.75 ” unblocked I am using Lion Brands LB1878 which is a virgin wool, super fine weight. Any thoughts? I will block so I can see how the drape is.

    • Lindy

      Hi Patty – yes we need to measure swatches AFTER washing and blocking!  That’s the whole idea; to see how your sample ‘measures’ up as it will be in actual use. 

      • Pattyb1

        Thanks Lindy.  After blocking my DC swatch with the G hook came out to gauge.  The SC swatch was a bit trickier.  The E swatch should have been ok, but when I stretched it to gauge, it looked too lacy.  The F swatch looked much better, so I will go with that.  Now to figure out what size to make!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rae-Gallaher/1161787116 Rae Gallaher

        Oh My Gosh!!  I didn’t know that!! Guess I’ll be swatching again. :(

  • Rhymes3

    Ok, I found a plastic size E crochet hook and did my third swatch, the width is 4 inches but the height is 4 1/4 inches. This seems to be the closest l am going to get unless you have another suggestion.

  • Rhyones3

    Now I have done the swatch for the mesh pattern three times.  I started with the E hook that is working for the single crochet and it came out with 12 bars, I went to a F hook and got 11 bars, so a G hook gave me 12 bars.  So I have done a total of seven swatches and have ended up with an E hook for SC and a G hook for mesh.  I am swatched out …….

  • Rhyones3

    I’m sorry that should read the G hook gave me 10 bars….

  • Pbird100

    My name is Peggy. This is my first CAL and I’m amazed at the number of crocheters that have to go down in hook size at least twice. I thought I was the only one! Now that I know I’m not the only one I feel I’ve learned something already. I really like working with Vanna’s Glamour it has a nice tight twist and doesn’t split like a lot of yarns seem to do. I got the Topaz since it was the most neutral, but I REALLY wanted the red. 

    • Lindy

      Awwww – why didn’t you go with the RED???!!!  If that’s what you  ‘really’ liked!  It’s much more fun to work with yarn you love!  Red would be gorgeous for all the patriotic holidays we have; memorial day, 4th of July, Labor Day (assuming you’re American which I should NOT assume!! LOL).  Honestly the red would also look great in both summer (nautical) and winter holiday season!  Why not make both?  I was thinking of working on two because my daughter and my niece BOTH want this shrug. 

  • Tjcoll

    Will it matter if I use the same E hook for the border?

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Tjcoll, usually patterns recommend that you do the border in a smaller hook to give you a neater, finished edge. However, if you really want to try doing the border in the same size hook, you can certainly try doing the border on your gauge swatch and see if you like it or not. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/caly.martin Caly Martin

    I have sc swatched twice, the measurements being 4″ by 4.25″ for G hook and 3.75″ x 4″ for F hook.  How important is it for the number of rows to reach the proper measurement?  I glanced through the pattern and saw that you crochet to a certain length, not row number, and I want to be sure I go with the right hook.  This is my first garment, and test swatching, so I am really trying to get it right before diving in. :D

    • Lindy

      I’m having problems with ROW gauge, not stitch gauge and have decided to do as you ‘suggested’ and just crochet until I reach the correct ‘length’ and not worry too much about the actual gauge length – I don’t see how we can get both measurements with one hook!!

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Caly, you’re absolutely right. Since this pattern asks you to crochet to a certain length, the sc stitch gauge is more important. Hope that helps!

  • Katelyn Zima

    I did my gauge swatch and am having the same issues as most people where I had to go down two sizes, which is not typical.  I was then looking at the measurements to decide if I am going to make the small or medium.  The small says that it is 26 in long and 54in around, which seem to be too big when I use the measuring tape and hold it up to myself.  Is there anyway that you could tell us what the size the model is wearing in the photos and give us a suggestion of what size a small is.  Is a small a typical size 2 or more of a 4?  In this post you said that you would be talking about how to make your shrug smaller but I am not sure where to start, could you give us more information about that in the next post?–Thanks!!

    • Bethany

      I had issues with the size as well, and someone from Lion Brand recommended looking at the Craft Council size charts – she said all the Lion Brand patterns follow those.  
      http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/womansize.html

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Katelyn, this model is about a 4/6 and wearing the small size, so that should give you some sense of the shrug. Also, keep in mind that since a shrug is not a very fitted garment, there will be some leeway in sizing. 

      Also, Bethany’s suggestion is correct. Check out the link to the sizing charts for some bust measurements that might also be a guide to you. Hope that helps!

  • Leigh0506

    Do you keep your swatches? I’ve never done this before so I didn’t know if it’s ok to pull it apart.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Leigh, that’s a matter of personal preference. Some people keep their swatches as reference for future projects with the same yarn (marking down what size hook they used). Others rip back the yarn and use it in their project. Either way, it’ll go to good use!

  • Gypsy1951

    I’ve finally decided to go with the Glamour yarn.  I’ve swatched two others that are 3s.  Can’t get the right size, so I will use the yarn that the pattern was written for, Glamour, a 2.  I’m going with the saphire color.  It’s a rich navy and I think it will go with a lot of other colors, especially nice with jeans I hope.

    • http://www.facebook.com/caly.martin Caly Martin

      I ended up going with the sapphire, and the swatch looks great!

  • pami45

    I had to go down to a Size E hook to obtain a 4″ gauge What size would be for the size smaller hook. 

    • Rae

      I’m glad you asked this because I wondered too. Here’s what I found in the Lion Brand Blog: “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.”

      • pami45

        I did go yesterday and purchased a C Hook. I’m so excited this is the first time I’ve bothered doing the swatch gauge. Maybe thats why my projects never come out right. LOL

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rae-Gallaher/1161787116 Rae Gallaher

          I’ve never done a swatch before either. LOL! I still have to go get a C hook. Either my daughter lost mine when she was playing with my hooks the other day, or I never had one. Have fun!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000113482146 Stella Snyder

    Is it too late to become part of this project?

    • Lindy

      Hi Stella!   I don’t think so – I’m still working on my gauge swatch! 

  • Sandysews

    After visiting 4 different stores looking for enough yarn to complete this project-I settled on a yarn I had in my stash. It was very frustrating as they had 5 or 6 ball of one of th  colors I wanted, but not 7. So I am using Knit PIcks Stroll in Merlot. When I make my second one, I will be ordering my yarn. I wound up using an F hook to get my guage-it is one stitch too wide, but an e hook is 2 stitches too narrow. Gr-r-r-r. I guess I will work a little tighter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2316790 Vanessa Michelle

       Hi Sandy!

      It is better to go with the tighter option, as it is easier to stretch fabric out than it is to make it smaller.  When you block your piece, get it wet and pin it out to the measurements you need it to be!

      Vanessa
      Lion Brand Yarn Studio

  • lyzzal

    I am a very small person, as well, so I am looking forward to any tips for altering the pattern to be a better fit for me!

  • Carollumm

    Am looking forward to a response to Caly’s question as I am having the same problem.  Using a G hook I get a perfect 4″ across but almost 4-3/4 inch down.  Am hoping I can stay with G hook and just stop at the right length since I like the drape that this produces.  Am going to wash and block now, we’ll see if the swatch changes.

  • karenaz4

    Caly,
    When I have participated in Crochet A Long’s before, we were told that as long as the width is correct, it should fit properly.  The length may not be as important, depending on what you are making.  I am not an expert but I think you are fine. 
    Karen

  • Gypsy1951

    Just thinking about those whose swatch is fine in width but big in length.   Remember this pattern have you crocheting across the garment — sleeve to sleeve.  So length really runs sideways here.  The width of your crochet will be the length of the shrug.  Just sayin’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rae-Gallaher/1161787116 Rae Gallaher

    Vanessa,

    Could you please clear this up for me before I continue on? Should a swatch be washed before measuring?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2316790 Vanessa Michelle

       Hi Rae!

      Usually you can assume that the measurement is before blocking, unless the pattern says “after blocking” with the gauge info.  If you are using a heavier yarn like cotton, or something that could stretch out like alpaca, it is best to wash your swatch to see what will happen to the fabric.  If it stretches out a lot, you know you will need to make it tighter or smaller so you don’t end up with an unfortunately saggy, huge garment!  If you are using Vanna’s Glamour, this will not sag after washing like some yarns may.

      Vanessa

  • Woolwines5

    Did my swatch and measured it at 5″ using size G hook. Since I am making mine a large size, I was wondering if I could use this hook and just crochet using pattern for small. My row size is also 5″ but since it says to crochet till measurement thought this might work. When I subtracted the stitch difference the measurement came to 4″. Any thoughts? I have never done a gauge swatch before either and am amazed by what I have learned from this.

    • Van2man

       I also came out with 5″ using a G hook and Sock-ease.  I had to go down to E to get the gauge, but I feel that it is too stiff.  I am also thinking about just following the small directions.  Would also be interested in the views of the pros!

      • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

        Hi Van2man, see my response to Woolwines5 regarding the swatch being larger. 

        Also, regarding your E-hook swatch being too stiff: did you wash/block your swatch? Most yarns will soften with a washing and it does make a difference in the drape/feel. Hope that helps!

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Woolwines5–if your swatch came out to 5 inches (which is 25% larger than the swatch should be) and you used the directions for the Small, your garment would be 25% larger than the Small size. In this case, that’s 47 inches wide from sleeve to sleeve (versus only 40 inches for the Large size), so I think your garment is going to be significantly larger than you would like it to be. I would definitely recommend moving to a smaller hook. Hope that helps!

      • Woolwines5

        Went down to an E hook and still 5 inches, ugh! Really like the look and feel of the G hook so I am going to try and stitch til it makes the 4 inches across and try and adjust the pattern from there. Can’t imagine trying to do this with a smaller hook.

  • Tobborah

    I have finally decided on a yarn. My local store was completely out of all but two balsa in two colors of Vanna’s Glamour, so I decided on Patons Lace in Amber. I have done my swatch and ended up with an F and D. Can’t wait to get started!

  • Klemelson

    I received my yarn yesterday. I bought the glamour in garnet. Really love the color and feel. I started my sc swatch and so far looks like the g hook will be what I’ll use.

  • Caroliso

    I bought my yarn on Saturday with a nice 20% off coupon from Michael’s that I happened to have lying around.  It took me a full 15 minutes to decide between the lapis, sapphire and white, but I finally decided on the lapis and luckily they had 8 balls.  When I started my first swatch I was a little worried that it would be too dark to easily find the stitches to crochet, and found myself wishing I’d chosen the white.  But after awhile (and with my reading glasses and a spot lamp!) I was breezing along.  The lapis with the sparkles in it is really beautiful.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.

  • Dzavala

    I got 4″ with an E on single crochet. Need to do the DC but not sure how. I’ve Never done a swatch. I am behind I know. Any tips

  • Quenoharts

    Hi all, I have been following along and I have my yarn, did my gauge swatches and ended up having to use a size  “C” hook. Apparently, I crochet rather loosely but my swatch and my shrug are a little stiff as mentioned earlier. I keep hoping as it gets larger it will drape better. I am worried about having to use an “A” hook for the border though, as that is going to be so much tighter. I have modified my pattern a little as well instead of doing the increase on each row, I am only increasing every other row, I am hoping this will make less bulk under the arm but I think I need a little more than none at all. Will let you know how it progresses. As as far as those who are having issues with the row count, that is the one you need to be sure of as mentioned earlier we are crocheting sideways, not lengthwise. Good luck to all of you. I chose the Vanna’s sapphire Glamour yarn and am very pleased with the color. I had a hard time choosing between the red too. It was so tempting. I had to get my yarn at two different stores. Neither one had 8 balls of the same die-lot so I had to settle for one different. I am hoping I don’t have to use it but may incorporate it somewhere that it won’t matter. I can’t tell the difference anyway so hopefully it will be ok.

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