I admit it: I used to cheat at gauge swatches. I would cast on, work a few rows, then assume I was good to go. Of course, my projects never came out the right size (and I have the ill-fitting sweaters to prove it)! Since then, I’ve decided that I prefer sweaters that fit, so now I’m a believer in the gauge swatch. Not only does a swatch help you measure your gauge, but it also gives you the chance to practice your stitches and see how your project will drape. Are you ready to swatch now? Here’s how to make and measure your swatch in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Cast on using the same technique you’ll use for your project. The gauge section of your pattern will tell you how many stitches per inch to anticipate, usually given over 4 inches. To get the most accurate measurements, you’ll want to cast on enough stitches to give you a 5-6 inch swatch. For example, this pattern has a gauge of 16 stitches = 4 inches, so I’m casting on 24 stitches. Work in your pattern for 5-6 inches, then loosely bind off.
Step 2: Measure vertically and horizontally. Don’t cheat by stretching it! It’s okay if your swatch doesn’t lay flat; hold it flat without stretching as you measure. For more accurate measurement, start your counting a few stitches in from the edge (as the size of your edge stitches may be distorted). Note your stitch and row gauge because it’s all about to change!
Step 3: Wash (and dry) your swatch in the same way that you’ll care for your finished piece.
Step 4: Are you going to block your finished piece? If so, block your swatch. Otherwise, skip ahead to Step 5. Click here for more information on blocking.
Step 5: Measure your swatch again. I repeat, don’t cheat by stretching your swatch! This will be your final gauge, which you’ll match against the pattern.
And that’s all it takes to make a gauge swatch! After following these steps, did your gauge change? Mine sure did! I went from 20 stitches over 4 inches (before washing and blocking) to 16 stitches over 4 inches. Likewise, my row gauge went from 38 rows over 4 inches to 32 rows over 4 inches. Does your gauge match your pattern? If not, it’s time to make another swatch. If your swatch is too small (too many stitches per inch), go up a hook/needle size; if your swatch is too big, go down a hook/needle size.
Knitting and crochet aren’t just crafts for the fall and winter; when you choose the right yarns and projects, you can keep right on crafting in the hotter months of the year! With these 5 tips on choosing the perfect yarn for your spring and summer projects, you’ll be comfortable making and wearing your crafts throughout the warmer seasons.
Think animal fibers for winter, plant fibers for summer.
Animal fiber yarns like thick wools, fluffy angoras and snuggly alpacas keep us warm when it’s chilly, and when it comes to staying cool, plant fibers can help. Yarns and blends with cotton or bamboo are best for projects that will be comfortable to work on and you’ll be able to wear or use right away. Many of the yarns we love for the cooler months feel heavy or sticky in the heat, so choose something with a cool hand like Cotton-Ease for crafting in the summer.
Just as there are many different variations of yarns, there are types of needles and hooks to choose from as well. Hooks and needles come in different shapes, sizes, and textures to help you achieve your best results when yarncrafting. They even come in fun colors and designs, allowing you to add a personal touch to your collection of supplies! Imagine your friend handing you a pair of needles in that royal purple color she knows you love so much; you’ll always remember that moment when you work with those needles.
The most common materials you’ll find your needles or hooks in are plastic, wood and metal. Needle or hook choice is entirely up to you, but it might be beneficial for you to know that the different materials of the needles/hooks can affect the way your knitting or crochet may feel (and sound) as you work.
It’s good to consider having multiple needles and hooks in varying materials, because their properties may have different effects on your gauge. In other words, you may find that you get a slightly different gauge when you knit/crochet with bamboo compared to when you knit/crochet with metal. Read below for more info on how the different tool materials affect yarncrafting styles.
Spring has sprung, and our crochet hooks are itching for a new project. That means it’s time for a new crochet-along! Before we get started, we need your help to choose the next project.
Have you picked your favorite? Click here to submit your vote. We’ll announce the winner here on the Lion Brand Notebook on Thursday, May 17th. We can’t wait to see which project you pick!
New to our online crochet-alongs? Click here to read our guide to getting started. Remember to check the Lion Brand Notebook on Thursdays for the latest crochet-along posts!
Looking for some great project ideas for beginners? Whether you are a novice knitter or crochet OR you’re teaching someone in your life to knit or crochet, an exciting project can be the key to getting you excited about these wonderful crafts.
Join me as I show you how to go beyond the scarf, and see just how much you can do with a rectangle!
For more useful blog posts for beginners, check out:
For more useful blog posts on teaching others to knit and crochet, check out:
About two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending SNAP!, a three day conference held at Thanksgiving Point, Utah which brought together hundreds of amazing D.I.Y, crafting, and home decor bloggers. I was surrounded by creative women who have a passion for sharing things like photos, projects, recipes, and parenting tips online; you could spend hours browsing through the blogs of these talented crafters.
While I was at SNAP!, Zontee joined me in hosting a crochet party after conference hours with the very talented and creative blogger Cindy, from Skip to My Lou. We thought crochet flowers would be a fun project, since flowers can become great embellishments and accessories. One simple crochet flower can be used for a broach, headband, and even a hair pin; there are so many different possibilities. A few of these bloggers already knew how to crochet, but most of them didn’t. Lion Brand Yarn and Skip to my Lou thought that SNAP! would be the perfect venue to round up a few of these bloggers and teach them how to crochet.
Most people got the hang of it and were crocheting little flowers before the end of the event, and those who didn’t have enough time to practice and complete their flower, had a fun time chaining and thinking about the different ways chains can be useful (belts, necklaces, bracelets, garlands, etc.). It’s always good to challenge yourself a little and learn something new – persistence pays off!
Cindy demonstrating to the crowd.
Heather from Whipperberry knocked out this granny square!
Mandi from Vintage Revivals crocheted her first flower & made a headband.
Marie from Make and Takes and Becca from Blue Cricket Design having fun crocheting.
|A special thank you to The Chocolate for providing “yarn ball” cupcakes, Natalie of “Sweet” Hobby for providing yarn inspired and granny square cookies, and thanks to Utah Kernel for donating the gourmet popcorn!|
Have you taught or inspired any to knit or crochet lately? Share your experience with us!
Click the photo (right) to see the directions for the European Rose, our FIRST excerpted design from this book.
With about two weeks left before Mother’s Day, there’s still plenty of time left to get started on your handmade gift; especially if you use a little trick – working with multiple strands. Multiple stranding adds more texture, durability, and makes a project done in a simple stitch look great.
By knitting or crocheting with multiple yarns as one, you create a thicker fabric, speeding up the process; this technique also allows you to play with different colors at once, creating your own “tweed” look. Click on the images below to see the different possibilities you can explore with multi-strand yarn-cafting!