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Archive for the 'Crochet-Along' Category


Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Working the Front Post Stitches

November 17th, 2011

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CAL badgeAs most of you know, post stitches are not worked into the tops of other stitches, but rather are worked around the post of a stitch in a previous row. By being worked in this manner, they tend to be raised from the surface of the work and can therefore be used to create some very interesting textures, such as basketweave. In this bag, the treble and half treble post stitches frame the bobbles.

Remember to work these stitches fairly loosely, so that they don’t pull the work out of shape. You can experiment with your tension until they look right. Please remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to tension on these stitches, just trust your eye! When they lie nicely on the surface, not pulling at the work, they’re just right.

In the first series of Front Post Stitches you encounter in this design, you have two post stitches worked into the same stitch. You mark the stitches in row 4 so you can find them when it’s time to do the post stitches in row 6. You wrap the yarn the indicated number of times — 3, since it’s a treble stitch — and insert the hook from front to back and then out the front again in the indicated stitch, then finish the stitch as usual.
Front post treble crochet
Front post treble crochet complete
Then you work the specified number of hdc before working the second FPtr, which goes into the same place as the first. Make sure you skip an hdc where instructed to do so. To place the second post stitch correctly, insert your hook BELOW the point where the earlier post stitch was made, as shown in the photo here.
Second post stitch
The next Post Stitches occur in row 8. They are worked around the posts of the earlier post stitches, which are very obvious. Note that they are half trebles, and are worked off as described in the Special Stitches instructions.
Front post half treble crochet
The third group may seem a bit tricky, because you are working two FP stitches together. Keep in mind, however, that it’s just like any other instance when you are working two stitches together: insert the hook where indicated, work off 2 loops on the first FPtr leaving the last loop on the hook, then insert the hook in the next indicated stitch, work off 2 loops, then yo and work off all the loops. Again, these should be worked quite loosely.
Crochet 2 front post treble together
Decrease complete
Some people have noted that the post stitches don’t seem to frame the bobbles on their projects. It’s possible that this is caused by miscounting of stitches on previous rows. Pay attention in particular to which stitches are skipped in the rows before, as this will also affect the alignment of post stitches. As mentioned in the last lesson, it’s important to count stitches at the end of every row, and check that each half of the row is a mirror of the other — this will insure that your bobbles and posts are in the correct place.

When I worked the project, my bobbles were nicely framed by the post stitches, and in one or two cases I moved the post stitches by hand around the bobbles. Feel free to do this if necessary (as in this example below).
Moving stitch

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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Getting Started

November 9th, 2011

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Most crocheters have worked in the round and know the “standard” formula for increasing to make a circle: you add the same number of stitches in each round. You might start with a round of eight stitches, for instance, and in the second round you put two stitches in each stitch, in the third round two stitches in every second stitch, in the fourth round, two stitches in every third stitch, etc. This bag follows a similar plan, but some variation was necessary, for two reasons: Firstly, it’s a semicircle, and secondly, we have a decorative pattern that calls for special stitches in some rows, which effects how we count stitches and how the increases are placed.

To make a semicircle at this gauge, I figured out after much experimentation, I would start with 4 stitches and increase 4 stitches on each round. Basically, this pattern follows the standard formula — adding one more stitch between increases on each row, except for the rows where there are special stitches. But, as I experimented with the design, I saw that if I followed that method in this half circle shape, it wouldn’t come out symmetrical: wherever your increase points are, you get little “points” in the circle shape, and they would end up in different places on the right and left sides of the semi-circle — no good! So I had to figure out a solution for that.

What I did was make a center stitch in each row, and the increases are mirrored on each half of the bag. For example, in row 4 of this pattern, you need an increase every 3 stitches. The pattern has hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, then a center stitch (also an hdc), then on the second half of the row you have 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc. Up to the halfway point, the increases come at the end of the group, after the center stitch they come at the beginning of the group.

That same method is used on every row of the bag. I think if you take note of this, it will make stitch counting much easier. You might want to place marker in that center stitch and check that your rows look symmetrical on each side of the marker. Keep in mind that the ch 2 that starts each row is counted as the first stitch (as noted in row 2 of the pattern).

On the rows with Bobbles (Clusters), I followed the same plan. The Clusters count as one stitch in the row. Let’s look at row 5 closely and you’ll see what I mean. In row 5 the increases happen every 4th stitch.

Row 5 (Cluster Row): Ch 2, turn, sk first st, hdc in next 2 sts, (5-dc Cl, hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, 5-dc Cl in next st, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next st, 2 hdc in next st, 5-dc Cl in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (hdc, 5-dc Cl) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, hdc in top of beg ch – 21 sts at the end of this row.

Ch 2 at the beginning is one stitch, then there are two more hdc, and then we need an increase, because we are at the 4th stitch. Since that’s where the first Cluster goes, we need a Cluster and an hdc in that spot. We work hdcs in the next 2 sts, a Cluster in the next stitch, and now we’re at the 4th stitch again, so we work 2 hdc. The next hdc marks the center of the row, and after that we do everything in reverse: 2 hdcs, then a Cluster, then hdc in next two stitches — that’s our first group of 4. In the next group, hdc and cluster in the same spot and 2 more hdcs for the next group of 4.

In this way, the two halves — right and left – are mirrors of each other. Is it starting to make sense?

In the rows with post stitches, I departed from the grand plan described here. In row 6 for example, I knew we would need 8 post stitches to go around the 4 Bobbles. So, when making 4 of them, we also work into the hdc behind the Post, which makes 4 increases in the row. On the other 4 Post stitches in the same row, we skip the hdc behind the post.

Now, I know this leads to some long lines of instruction, but perhaps understanding the designer’s “logic” can make it easier to follow.

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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Welcome! Getting Materials & Gauge

November 3rd, 2011

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Editor’s note: This is the first blog post by Dora Ohrenstein, designer of the Half Medallion Bag, and our host during this crochet-along. Join Dora each Thursday, as we work on this purse together!

I’m thrilled to be hosting a crochet-along at Lion Brand, a company that is truly committed to crochet!

What to expect during this crochet-along
For this Half Medallion Bag (click here to get the pattern), I wanted to create a three dimensional effect that radiates out from a center point. Bobbles and post stitches create this dimension.

Rather than a full circle for the bag, I decided on a half circle, because I think it’s such a pretty shape. While none of the stitches used here are difficult, in order to make the proper increases for the bag while also maintaining the 3D design, stitch counting on each row will be important. I’ll cover that in a future post.

For a bag to be practical, it needs to be lined. Obviously, the holes in crochet fabric are not conducive to carrying items like lipstick and glasses! The lining also helps the bag keep its shape, and provides greater stability and firmness in the fabric. I’m not an expert sewer, so I consulted my friend Leslie who is. She taught me a great way to line a bag with no sewing whatsoever! We will be exploring that later as we proceed in our bag.

Speaking of which, you may be wondering about the timeline for this crochet-along. Over the next 5 weeks, we’ll be working through gauge, counting stitches and placing increases, long post stitches, lining the bag, and then finishing the bag (seaming and attaching the handles). As with all crochet-alongs, you’re free to work at your own pace, since all of these blog posts will stay online.

But first…yarn selection
I was eager to try out the new Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool Blend for this project. It’s lovely to work with: soft and pliable, making the post stitches easy to execute. Other Lion Brand options to choose from are Vanna’s Choice®–always a great value–Wool-Ease®, another wool blend with a very different color palette, Fishermen’s Wool®, for those who like 100% wool, or Cotton-Ease®, for those who prefer a cotton-blend. You’ll need the following amounts depending on your yarn selection:

Yarn Number of Balls
Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool
Blend
2
Vanna’s Choice® 2
Wool-Ease® 2
Fishermen’s Wool® 1
Cotton-Ease® 2
Approximate yardage needed 325-350 yards

Getting gauge
For the first part of our CAL, let’s talk about how to get gauge for this project. If you were to make a gauge swatch with rows, you might not get the same size stitches as when you work this semi-circular design. For that reason, work the first few rows in pattern, and measure them for gauge. Here are some shots of my gauge swatch, worked in the same yarn as the finished bag but in a different color.

With the recommended hook size, a J-10, I worked rather loosely to get this gauge.

Since this is not a wearable item, you may think precise gauge is not important. Here is why I think it is: firstly, when a designer gives gauge, they are telling you what gauge creates attractive looking stitches in the yarn being used. You know how sometimes stitches look all tight and bunchy, and other times they look scrawny or limp? These are gauge problems! So, if you want your finished design to look like the original, please do pay attention to gauge.

Another reason gauge should be considered for this project is to determine how much fabric and interfacing you’ll need. If your project turns out bigger than the size given, you may need to buy a bit more of both.

Now it’s time for you to select your yarn and start swatching. Also, please say hello in our comments section, tell us a bit about yourself, and don’t forget to come back next week for the next step in the crochet-along!

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Announcing Our Next Crochet-Along Featuring the Half Medallion Bag, Designed by Dora Ohrenstein

October 27th, 2011

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Calling all crocheters! We know you’ve been waiting patiently all season for our next crochet-along to start, and now the wait is over! Right on the heels of our Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along, we’re starting our NEW crochet-along NEXT THURSDAY!

What’s a crochet-along, you ask? A crochet-along is a virtual event in which hundreds of crocheters all make the same project with the help and support of each other–and our expert crochet-along host. New blog posts go up each week, here on the Lion Brand Notebook, with hints, tips, and advice on working on the next step of your project. Follow along or work at your own pace. No need to sign up–just read the posts and let us know about your progress by leaving comments!

For this crochet-along, our host is none other than the designer herself, Dora Ohrenstein (pictured below left). She’s the author of Creating Crochet Fabrics and the upcoming Custom Crocheted Sweaters. Want to know more about her? Listen to an interview with her on our podcast, YarnCraft, by clicking here [MP3]. (Fast forward directly to the interview by going to 17:20.)

Dora has created this exclusive Half Medallion Bag pattern for us, with bobbles and front post stitches for added interest; click here for the pattern! It features our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend.

We’ll be talking about selecting your yarn, getting gauge, and all that good stuff next Thursday, so be sure to come back then! In the meantime, be sure to join our Ravelry group.


Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Finished Pullover Round-Up

August 11th, 2011

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I want to thank everyone who participated in the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! It’s been a great few weeks, and we hope you’ve had an excellent time crocheting with us. My favorite part of any CAL (or KAL) is seeing all of the fantastic finished objects! Here are a few sweaters from our Ravelry group and our blog.

moxiedox

Jody (Ravelry user moxiedox)used Vanna’s Choice in Seaspray Mist. The subtle print looks great with the mesh style.

Jean

Jean followed along with the CAL here on the blog, making her sweater in the recommended Seagrass Recycled Cotton. I love the flowy fit!

atlantisdragongrl
Cori (AtlantisDragonGrl on Ravelry) made her pullover super cheerful with Sunshine Recycled Cotton.
coolforcats
Robin (Ravelry user coolforcats) made her cool blue top in Marine Recycled Cotton.
mburts

Mburts on Ravelry used the summery Seaspray shade of Lion Cotton. She opted to use the tie around her waist for a flattering silhouette.

Janice

Janice followed the CAL on our blog. She made her looser swing-style pullover with Marine Recycled Cotton.

Thanks for letting me share your wonderful photos, ladies! If you haven’t finished your pullover yet, don’t worry! Our Ravelry group is still active, and all of the blog posts are available for you to peruse at your own pace. Happy crocheting!

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Finishing Details

August 4th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL and the final step in our sweater crochet-along! Today I’m going to talk about putting the finishing touches on your pullover so you can wear it proudly and show off all of your hard work.

For starters, the pattern indicates to work a trim on the bottom of the body and the neckline using the same (sc, ch 3, dc) as used around the sleeve edges. This cluster is worked in every other ch-1 space, and although it may seem strange to stretch over the skipped space, the height of the double crochet will reach to the next space, resulting in the scalloped edging. If you like the way it looks as is feel free to leave the edging off, but just keep in mind that not only does the edging add a design element, it also gives the finished edge a little more stability, which is particularly nice at the neckline.

Once your edging is complete and your ends are woven in (everyone’s favorite part, I know), it’s time to talk about blocking! Blocking gives your sweater a polished look and gives you the opportunity to shape the sweater into a finished shape. There are many methods for blocking, but for this sweater in particular I chose to pin it in place first and then wet block it with a spray bottle.

Blocking

Although I generally prefer a soaking method for wet blocking, it’s very hot and humid in New York City right now and I was afraid it would never dry! Using a spray bottle to wet the sweater still results in a good blocking, but can dry faster because it has less water saturation. I pinned my sweater in place to the measurements I wanted it to be, stretching it just slightly to open up the mesh pattern, then dampened it with a spray bottle and left it alone to dry.

The final finishing touch is to make the ties! I know I mentioned in an earlier post that I made my neck tie ahead of time for a more accurate idea of how the finished sweater would fit, but now that I’m finishing this garment I’ve decided to re-do my neck tie. While the long chain is perfectly useful, I felt that a slightly more substantial tie would be a nice addition.

To create my ties, I made a chain as long as I wanted for the neck tie, but instead of leaving it as a chain I worked back into it with single crochets (you could also use slip stitches), resulting in a thicker tie. I repeated this for my second tie as well. Some of you have also mentioned using ribbon or a contrasting color of yarn, both of which are great ideas!

Tie placement is another area where you can customize your pullover. The pattern indicates to place a tie at the neckline as well as at the bottom of the body, but you can also take into consideration where you want to shape the body of the sweater. I am placing the first tie at the neckline as instructed because I love the look of the slight gather at the top and how it adds structure to the top of the garment. For my personal style, however, I’m going to use the second tie to create more of an empire waist by weaving it through the stitches of the body below the bust line.

Finished Sweater

The beauty of this sweater is that the body section does not have shaping built in, so you can use the tie to create it wherever you find it works for you. Maybe you’ll want it closer to your natural waist or at the bottom as indicated in the pattern. Better yet, you can change the placement of the tie each time you wear it depending on the look you want. The beauty of a tie creating the shaping is that it can be modified again and again! As you can see, I’m wearing my sweater over a tank top, as many of you have discussed doing as well, but keep in mind that by changing what you use under it you can also change the look each time you wear it. Such a versatile pullover!

Now put on your pullover and admire all of your hard work! Thanks for working through this pullover with me, sharing your experiences, posting your photos, and helping each other along the way. Please continue to share photos of your finished sweaters so we can all share in your pride!

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Adding the Sleeves

July 28th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! Hopefully working on the body of your pullover has gone well and you were able to make it the length you want by being able to try it on as you go! Gotta love top-down sweaters, right? This pullover is almost done! Today I’m going to talk to you all about sleeves – then next week it’s on to the finishing touches and this sweater will be complete!

For the sleeves, you are going back to the marked double crochet and chains that you used to create the body only this time you are working the stitches into the armhole opening. As with the body, be sure to read the notes and pay particular attention to whether you should start on the right or wrong side for your size. The other very important note is that you working the first few stitches into the chains you skipped over while making the body. Otherwise working the sleeves around is just like a smaller version of the body, working dc, ch-1 in each dc around.


The chain between the stitch markers has the single sleeve dc between the two dc of the body from before (for the size M with a chain of 3 at the underarms)

A lot of you asked early on about making the sleeves longer. Just as with the body, this is very easy to do! At the simplest, just continue to work more rounds until the sleeves are the length you want, trying it on as you go to see how the fit is coming. As another option, work as above but decrease the number of stitches every 2-3 rounds to shape the sleeve a little smaller as you work towards your elbow.

To work a decrease in this mesh stitch I would recommend working one decrease at the point of the sleeve on the underside of your arm by working your turning chain of 4, then skip the next dc that you would normally work into and instead work your first dc in next dc.


Note the skipped dc below the turning chain. While it does leave a larger hole in the mesh stitch pattern, it is not as noticeable when placed on the underside of the sleeve.

You can also work the decreases at any other point in the sleeve as follows, but keep in mind it will leave a larger space wherever placed:

  1. Work up to where you want to work the decrease.
  2. Work your regular dc, ch-1, only skip the next dc and ch-1 space,
  3. Work the next dc in the following dc, ch-1 and continue in pattern as normal.

What this accomplishes is a decrease of a dc and a ch-1 space without an interruption in the pattern. This will tuck the sleeve in a bit on the underside of the arm and will help the sleeve from staying very open. It’s a great option to decrease slightly even if you don’t lengthen the sleeves as it will help bring the sleeve in a bit if your yoke turned out a little loose. If you choose to decrease, be sure to decrease an even number of times so the edging works out evenly.

Lastly for the sleeve is a trim round where you are working in a completely different pattern than the mesh stitch used so far. Instead you are focusing on working stitches into the ch-1 spaces we have been skipping and not working into the dc stitches at all. Otherwise it’s a nice (sc, ch 3, dc) in every other ch-1 space to make a nice lacy trim.

So get to work on your sleeves and next week it’s all about finishing up this great pullover! Keep sharing your comments and photos of your progress!


Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Underarm Chains

July 21st, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! So I spent some time ripping out the yoke and reworking it with the larger H hook and it worked out well – I got the length I needed to reach the armholes. It definitely made the yoke larger overall, but with the neck tie, it still works well, and it gave me a little extra room in the bust and slightly looser sleeves.  Now that I’ve got my yoke in order it’s time to move on to making room for the underarms and working through the body. So let’s get to it!

When you have completed your yoke you finish it off completely by cutting the yarn, then you reconnect the yarn to create chain spaces at the underarms. Before you start, be sure to read all of the notes for the section! Here they are again:

  1. In next section, you are making a ch that spans the underarm and will be used on the Next Rnd of the Body and Sleeves.
  2. Stitch markers are placed at beg and end of the underarm ch to indicate where Sleeve sts will be worked later.

By reading the notes you will get a better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish in the next section, as well as any other bits of information to make the next part a success. This chain gives you some extra stitches to reach from front to back under your arms to work both the body and sleeves off of. Setting up the armholes may sound complicated, but it is just a matter of getting your hook into the right stitches. As written in the pattern:

Join yarn with sl st in last dc of V-st at beg of one Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc as sl st join, ch 1 (3, 5, 7, 9), sk the Sleeve sts, sl st in first dc of V-st at end of same Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc. Fasten off. Rep for other underarm.

So what does this look like? Remember those “corners” we created in the yoke? Focus on two that are on either side of a sleeve section (the shorter of the four sides). Find the V-stitch of the corner to the right of the sleeve (or left of the sleeve if you are left handed). Got it? Now insert your hook into the  leftmost double crochet of the V-stitch (rightmost double crochet if left handed) and join your yarn there. Now create your chain and join back into the rightmost double crochet of the V-stitch (leftmost if left handed) on the other side of the sleeve opening. Joined! It should looks something like this (with stitch markers placed in the same stitches as the joins):

Now to work the body by using those new chains. Here the notes are also super important:

  1. Work next rnd with RS facing for sizes S, L and 2X. Work next rnd with WS facing for sizes M and 1X.
  2. The first rnd of Body is worked over the Back and Front sts and the underarm chs.
  3. The marked dc at beg and end of the underarm chs are part of the Sleeve sts, and are not counted as sts when working the Body.

Although the result it subtle, if you don’t start working as directed in #1 (the right side or wrong side) your stitches in this row will look slightly different than the rest of the rows. How do I know? Because I just started going and noticed after a few stitches that it wasn’t lining up quite like the rest of the rows…then I saw the note about joining from the wrong side if you are making the medium. Make your life easier and check all notes carefully before proceeding! For future reference I marked the right side (RS) of my project with a clip-on stitch marker so I don’t have to analyze it each time I need to know one side from the other:

Stitch marker

This time you will join your yarn and work your ch 4 in the other double crochet of the V-stitch you used for one of your underarm chains. I chose to use the side that would put the join of my rounds on the back of the sweater instead of the front, because the joins always look just slightly different than the rest of the sweater and I’d rather hide that in the back. Once you work across the chain (skipping over both of the marked double crochets at the start and end of each underarm where the chains are attached) and across the body, it should look something like this:

Now you’re set to work round after round around the body, trying it on as you go until you get a length you like. If you are planning to put a tie at the bottom of your pullover as shown in the pattern, make your bottom tie ahead of time (as we did with the neck tie) so when you think you have the length you like, you know what it will look like when done. In case you are having any doubts about joining your rounds each time (maybe adding or losing stitches), the joins are the end of each round should progress something like this (click on each image to zoom):

Ready to go on the next round! Alright, I’m going to keep working through the body of my sweater, trying it on as I go to get the length I want, and next week we’ll be on to the sleeves. Enjoy!

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Starting Chain & Raglan Increases

July 14th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! Hope you all had a good week of swatching adventures and have your hooks ready to go – it’s time to get this pullover going! This sweater is worked in the round and as such the traditional start is a long chain which is then joined with a slip stitch in the first chain to create a giant ring. Sounds simple enough, but the tricky thing is to make sure there isn’t a twist in the chain. If the chain is twisted it will always be that way and the top of your sweater won’t work up quite right.

Lucky for us, this pattern gives you another option for starting to eliminate this problem. In this alternative method, you work the first row of the pattern and then join for working in the round. This makes it much simpler because once you have the width of a row established it’s so much easier to see that it’s twist free.

First row
Click here to zoom.

An easier way to do something? Sign me up! To work the beginning this way, follow the instructions: “YOKE: Notes: 1.” listed above the traditional chain instructions. You’ll notice when you follow this method you will end with an extra chain after you work across – this is intentional! As the pattern states, you will later sew the ends of the first row together while weaving in your tails and this remaining ch-1 will become another space in the mesh pattern. Voila!

Yoke

At the end of this set up, just be sure you still remember to place your markers in each of the V-st spaces (4 total) and then proceed to Rnd 2. If you haven’t used markers before they are simply another way to make things easier for you! By putting a stitch marker in each V-st space, you’ll remember that is where you need to do work the following V-st to make the raglan increasing a success.

Markers

Speaking of increases, I just want to clarify how the increases at the four “corners” work. In all of the other stitches around you are skipping over the ch-1 spaces and working double crochet stitches in each dc across. For the increases, however, you work the dc in the dc as per the usual, ch-1, but then instead of skipping over the ch-1 space, that marked space is where you will work your V-st: dc, ch 1, dc. This will be followed by another ch 1, and yet another dc in the dc following the space. This is how the “corners” will look…

Corners

…and this is the result after the yoke increases are completed:

Yoke increases
Yoke increases

As you may have noticed from the photo above I already have the neck-tie in place. This is so I can try it on and know how it is going to fit when finished. As some of you may notice, the neck opening for this top is quite wide. This is because the finished garment has a neck-tie to cinch it to a closer fit, and I want to account for this while I try it on as I go. To do so, jump ahead to the “FINISHING” section, “Neck Tie,” but really it’s just a nice long chain that you then weave through the top of the mesh pattern. Ready to go!

I’m still deciding between two sizes, so I decided to slip the yoke on and see how it’s going for me. Uh oh…my row gauge is causing me some troubles! I didn’t think about the fact that the increases are worked on every round of this pattern, and as such if your row gauge is off, you will reach the correct stitch count, but it may not be long enough to reach to the underarm. Bummer. So now what?

I see two options:

  1. Use a hook that gets me the correct row gauge but wrong stitch gauge just for the yoke then switch hooks for the remainder of the pattern.
  2. Use the hook for your stitch gauge, work extra yoke increases and then account for the extra stitches by working fewer (or no) chains for the underarm and/or do a few increases after the underarm join when first working the body.

The H hook I chose not to use did achieve the correct row gauge, so using the larger hook for the yoke then switching to the G hook for the remainder of the top seems like the right choice in my case. I was debating between 2 sizes anyway, so this will give me a little more room in the bust without added width in the body. Plus if the yoke ends up a little big, the tie is there to tighten up the fit! I’m going to rip back to row 2 and redo the yoke, which is a bummer but that’s why we’re here to support each other by working through this together! It’s only 9 rows and it’s better to get it right. I was once told, “faster isn’t better, it’s just faster,” and I think that’s the perfect way to look at this.

Alright, I’m going to go rip mine back and go again, so get your yoke started and hopefully learn from my attempt. If you have other ideas for how to account for this problem, please comment below! That’s why we have a crochet-along: to learn from each other. Next week we’ll talk about creating the armhole openings and continuing to try on the start of your sweater to be sure you’re getting the fit you want!

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Gauge Swatch Time!

July 7th, 2011

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Welcome to the Raglan Mesh Cardigan Crochet-Along (CAL)! As an over-view, here’s what you can expect in the upcoming blog posts, which go up every Thursday:

  • This week: Gauge!
  • 7/14: Starting chain and raglan increases
  • 7/21: Underarms and Body
  • 7/28: Sleeves
  • 8/4: Finishing and blocking – sweater is done!

Some people will work a little ahead of this, and others a little slower, but remember to check the blog each week for help in these different sections (and remember that the blog posts will remain online). Read the comments below and participate in the discussion for even more help. From the many comments in the last week I can tell that you are all as excited as I am to get started on this project, so let’s get to it–onto the the swatch!

As you may know, the intended idea behind doing a gauge swatch is to find out if your working tension is giving you the same gauge as the pattern is written to–this is how you will know if your finished item will turn out to the intended measurements. If your gauge is fewer stitches per inch than the pattern, your gauge is too loose and you need to try another swatch with a smaller hook to tighten it up. If your gauge is more stitches per inch, your gauge is too tight and you need to try a larger hook to make it looser.

But your swatch tells you so much more than that! It is your first chance to try the yarn you have chosen for your project with the pattern stitch and see if you are happy with the resulting fabric. This is especially important when you are substituting yarns. If you have chosen a yarn that is a different fiber than the original, it may not produce the same affect, which can be good or bad. You may also find that although you are able to get the pattern gauge, you may not like how the resulting fabric looks at that gauge and might have to use a different yarn.

Another useful purpose of a swatch is to see how it changes when washed. Wash your swatch according to the care instructions of your yarn to know how it will respond, as some fibers may fluff up or stretch after washing. You may also find the gauge or feel of the fiber changes with washing as well, which I’ll get into shortly.

Now let’s talk about how to swatch. The pattern states that the gauge is 18 stitches and 7 rows is 4″ x 4″ IN PATTERN. This means in the same stitch as the body of the pattern, which in this case is a mesh stitch worked as “dc in next dc, ch 1, skip next ch-1 sp, rep.” I know the V-stitch is highlighted in the notes of the pattern, but it merely used for increasing as we’ll see as we work through the yoke next week.

I always create a swatch that has more stitches than the intended four inches so that I have plenty to measure over. This gives me a more accurate idea of my gauge. In this case I used an H hook and created a chain of 30, worked my first double crochet in the 6th chain from the hook (5 chains skipped = one base chain + three for the turning chain + a chain-1 space), then worked across the chain by skipping 1 ch, dc, ch 1, repeat across. I also work more rows than the intended gauge, so I stopped after 10 rows. Nice big swatch to measure!

Next I washed the swatch because I’m going to want to get the finished sweater wet too for washing and I don’t want any surprises! I soaked it on the sink for 10-15 minutes, gently squeezed out the excess water and laid it out flat to dry. Once it was completely dry, I was ready to measure.

Now how do you measure? Again since our pattern is “dc, ch1″ each of those parts counts as their own stitch. This means I lay out my swatch and place a ruler on it, lining it up with the edge of one stitch then counting each double crochet and chain one across until I have counted 4 inches worth of stitches.

H Hook Swatch

Looks to me like 15.5 sts over 4 inches. Uh oh, too loose :( Time to try again with a smaller hook – a G hook in this case.

G Hook Swatch

This one is just about 18 stitches over 4 inches. Great, G hook it is! I know sometimes it’s hard to know which hook to use, especially if your gauge is a little too tight with one hook and a little too loose with another. Just from personal experience with other garments, I’ve found that it’s much easier to make something bigger with blocking than smaller, and also that crochet fabric is more likely to stretch a little than it is to shrink over time, so unless it’s really tight, I’d suggest the smaller hook.

Editor’s note: Some people may find that their gauge will also change with different types of hooks (metal, wood, plastic), since these provide a different amount of “grip” against different fibers. So if you’re in between hooks, you may want to try a hook of a different material to see if that makes a difference.

I know I’ve focused on stitch gauge, but what about row gauge? Measuring in a similar manner by placing the ruler lined up with the bottom of one row and counting up over 4 inches, I found that I achieved roughly 7 rows over 4 inches with the H hook and 8.5 rows over 4 inches with the G hook, but I need the G hook to achieve the stitch gauge. Bummer!

Luckily with most garments, stitch gauge is much more important to achieve because that gives the width of the sweater, which is much harder to change, but if my garment needs more rows to get the correct length in the end, that’s OK and easy to adjust! Again, we’ll talk pattern modifications in upcoming posts, but if you can only get the stitch OR the row gauge (very common!), go with the hook that gets you the correct stitch gauge.

As an aside, this sweater is made from the top down in one piece which is incredibly helpful because you can try it on as you go! More on that next week as we finally jump into starting the sweater! For now, work on your swatch (or swatches!), and next week I’ll be showing you how to get this sweater going. See you then!

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