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Archive for the 'Crochet-Along' Category


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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Announcing Our Summer 2011 Crochet-Along Featuring the Mesh Raglan Pullover

June 30th, 2011

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Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. There’s no need to sign up; simply follow along with the blog posts at your own pace as you crochet your sweater.

We asked you what crochet garment you’d like to make, and you picked our Mesh Raglan Pullover!

My name is Kendra and I’ll be your CAL host! I work at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, Lion Brand’s unique retail & education center in New York City, where I am both a crochet and knitting instructor and I can’t wait to work through this project with you. Click here to learn more about me. Each week I’ll have a post here about my progress through the sweater full of information I’ve found helpful and hope you will as well. This is meant to be an interactive process so please ask questions here and in our Ravelry group so I–and the other crocheters involved–can help! Click here to join our Ravelry group, and add your photos to our Flickr group here.

CAL BadgeTo start, this week is just about getting your yarn and other materials together. The pattern is made in our Recycled Cotton, which is a fabulous worsted-weight, cotton-acrylic blend that is made from the discarded fabric from tee-shirt production. It comes in beautiful tweed shades and has a great drape making it perfect for a summery top.

Cotton-Ease and Lion Cotton are other great summer yarns, which are both worsted weight and come in a wide variety of colors. Cotton-Ease is another cotton-acrylic blend where the addition of acrylic lends a stretch and drape to the cotton, making it a wonderful choice for garments. Lion Cotton is 100% cotton, which gives it great strength and structure, but it can also make it a little heavy for use in a sweater. Given the open fabric of this top, however, it could also make for a good choice.

As with any yarn substitution, you’ll need to figure out how many balls of your chosen yarn the top will take. The top is written for five sizes, and here are the number of balls for each of our recommended yarns:

Size S M L 1X 2X
Recycled Cotton 3 3 4 4 5
Cotton-Ease 3 3 4 4 5
Lion Cotton (Solids) 3 3 4 4 4
Lion Cotton (Multis) 3 3 4 4 5
Approx. yardage
550 550 750 750 925

Editor’s note: If you’re planning on modifying the pullover in terms of length or planning on keeping your gauge swatch, you may want to purchase an extra ball, just in case.

Now which size should you make? This top is meant to have a slightly loose fit, meaning it has some positive ease, so you want to select a size which measures a little larger than your bust measurement. When in doubt, it’s useful to measure a top you own, whose fit you like, and pick the size closest to that garment’s measurements.

Starting next week I’ll be sharing my progress through the top, starting with the all-important gauge swatch! I’ll also give you an overview of the construction of the garment so you’ll know how it’s going to come together. The following posts will work through the top starting with creating the yoke, moving on to the underarms and body, then the sleeves, and lastly the finishing work and blocking to make your garment perfect! So pick out your yarn, gather your hooks and stitch markers, and check back next week as this CAL really gets going!

Say hello! Leave a comment and tell us who you are, where you’re from, and who you’re making this top for!


Vote for Our Crochet-Along Project!

June 22nd, 2011

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Summer is the perfect time for making a breezy crochet garment. To celebrate, we’re having a crochet-along (a virtual event where we all make the same pattern, with the support of hundreds of other crocheters)! Our friend Kendra, who hosted last year’s Beach Cardi CAL, is back to host. Before we get started, we want you to choose the perfect pattern!
Crochet-along
Clockwise from top left: Persimmon Pullover, Broomstick Lace Crochet Shell, Mesh Raglan Pullover, Light ‘n’ Lively Tank

Click here to cast your vote. We’ll announce the winning pattern on Thursday, June 30th. We can’t wait to get started!

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!


Pearl’s Cardigan CAL Round-Up

November 9th, 2010

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Thank you to everyone who has participated in our Pearl’s Cardigan CAL.  One of the best parts of working with other people on a project is getting inspiration from their finished projects!  Here are a two gorgeous finished projects shared with us on Ravelry.

DinaMarie‘s sweater in Sterling Microspun

cln1105‘s sweater in Lilac Microspun

There are also a few great works in progress that are coming along nicely:

DanaLorz‘s Work In Progress in Ruby Vanna’s Glamour

mmhiscox‘s Work In Progress in Turquoise Microspun

Mudderleigh‘s Work In Progress in Fuschia Microspun

Congratulations to everyone who has finished their cardigan.  Whether you’re finished or still working, make sure to post your pictures to the Pearl’s Cardigan CAL Ravelry group and Flickr group and our Customer Gallery.

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 6: Finishing, Styling, and Care

October 27th, 2010

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I finished my brown, short-sleeved Pearl’s Cardigan! The modifications I added are perfect for my climate (living in southwest Florida) as I have many more opportunities to wear a vest than a long-sleeved sweater. Adding ease in the hips instead of side vents was not necessarily an important modification, but I thought it would be fun to show you two different styles of adding ease in the hips so you can either modify this sweater, or think about this type of modification in future sweater projects. Since I had leftover yarn, I decided to add more length to the body, too. I added an extra 6 repeats of the stitch pattern (for an added 6” of sweater length).

Pearl's Cardigan - Belted

The sleeves are worked even in the round in the same stitch pattern as the body of the sweater. There are lots of options here and since we used the top down method, you can try it on as you go to determine how long you want them to be. If you wanted a sleeve with a wider cuff, you could implement the side vents or increasing I demonstrated for the hip ease a few inches above the end of your sleeve. If you chose to work the sleeve as written in the pattern, you could still customize the length, too. Stop after a couple of inches for short sleeves, just below the elbow for 3/4 sleeves, just before your wrist for a long sleeve. For a cap sleeve (like I chose) only work the edging round onto the last row of the yoke where we separated for fronts, back and sleeves.

Pearl's Cardi - Belted from the back

The edging is very similar to the “pearl” rows of the yoke because it is clusters worked sideways into the side of the previous single crochet. Working them on the exterior edge of the garment gives a pretty scallop and “pearl” texture. I varied the length of the clusters used depending on the area of the sweater: along the fronts I used the treble-crochet-clusters, across the bottom edge I used double-treble-crochet-clusters, and around the neck edge I used double-crochet-clusters.

Pearl's Cardi - edging shot

Do you know how to weave in loose ends? As you added new balls of yarn to your project, you may have been tying knots in the yarn and leaving the ends. It is very, very important that you don’t just cut the yarn close to the knots as they will unravel over time and therefore your sweater will unravel, too. Using a tapestry needle, thread the yarn onto the needle and weave each yarn end into the stitchwork of the sweater. A length of 6” is good for ends because it gives you enough to weave the yarn into the work back and forth a couple of times, with enough left to handle with the needle and your hand. At this point, you will cut the remainder of the yarn end close to the body of work.

Here is a photo of my sweater just before I wove in the loose ends:

Pearl's Cardi Unblocked

Next comes the blocking process. As I have previously stated, blocking is a really important process in garment making. As long as you plan on laundering your project, you will need to know if water changes the gauge. We determined that water did change our gauge, and have assumed that post-wash gauge for the sizing of this garment. There are several ways of blocking a garment.

Steam blocking: If you have an iron with a steam feature, you can easily block your garment on a dress-form or hanger. DO NOT steam the garment on a body. It is extremely hot. The steam immediately relaxes the fabric and adds beautiful drape to your fabric.

Mist blocking: You can use a spray bottle and mist your garment, stretch the fabric to the proper gauge, and let dry. Generally, you should use a blocking board or flat surface that can be pinned for this method. If you don’t have a blocking board, a carpeted floor covered in clean towels and T-pins works fine. Or, a mattress can easily replace a blocking board in the same way (just make sure it isn’t a waterbed mattress!)

Wet blocking: Generally, I use my washing machine for blocking – even with fibers that are not supposed to be washed in the machine – but very carefully. I only use the spin cycle. I place the garment in the washing machine, set it for final rinse and watch it to make sure it does not spin (agitate). Stop the machine so the garment can soak for a few minutes, and turn it back on to spin out the water. When it is complete, you will have a damp garment that can be stretched and blocked with whichever tools you have available.

Depending on where you live and what your temperature and humidity levels are, drying time may vary. If you are feeling rushed, a ceiling fan may speed up the drying time.

Pearl's Cardi - unbelted

Based on the color I chose and the climate I live in, I will most often wear my Pearl’s Cardigan with capri jeans, a brightly colored 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, a brown leather belt and some sparkly jewelry. When I go on business trips, I think the vest will look lovely with a button down shirt, dress pants or a pencil skirt, and my (soon to arrive) silk leopard-print scarf, threaded through the belt loop holes. Too late to alter anything, I realized my brown belt is slightly too large for the belt loop holes so I styled my cardigan with the belt on top of the sweater. I like the way it looks and will probably not search out a belt that specifically fits in the holes. For a dressier look, I think a strapless sheath dress in brown or black would look really pretty with my hair worn up and a contrast color silk scarf for a belt. Let’s say I chose red, I would accessorize it with a red flower in my hair or red lipstick (but not both).

Pearl's Cardi - pinned or buttoned

Note: Unfortunately, I was not able to find a silk leopard scarf in time for this blog post. I finally found one, but it won’t ship to me until next week. I will take new photos then, and add them to this post and the Ravelry pages at that time.

When we buy clothing at the store, laundering is a no-brainer! But with handmade crochet and knit garments, it is a different story. If the yarn is machine washable, I often use the machine on gentle cycle, but otherwise I hand wash all my hand made garments using a delicate soap like Eucalan, Soak or Unicorn Fibrewash. Depending on the garment and the gauge, sometimes you may need to slightly stretch or manipulate your garment back to its original finished measurements.

If you choose to add buttons to the front of your sweater, I don’t think a button hole band is necessary as long as you choose buttons large enough to fit through the openness of the sweater on the opposite side. A shawl pin would work nicely on some occasions, too.

As our Crochet-Along comes to a close, I want to thank everyone who participated along the way. Thank you so much! Without your participation it would not have been the same! The photos on our Ravelry CAL page are gorgeous! Don’t worry if you didn’t finish your sweater in the same time frame as me. The CAL posts will remain here on the Lion Brand Notebook and the CAL group on Ravelry will remain, too. In fact, I will continue to monitor the Ravelry Group for Pearl’s Cardigan CAL, so please continue to share your photos with me!

This Friday, I will be having a Pearl’s Cardigan contest on my website, StyledbyKristin.com, so please stop by. You will need to have a photo of your Pearl’s Cardigan sweater to participate, and a couple of words describing where and when you will be wearing your sweater first. But it doesn’t have to be a finished photo. If you just started, a photo of your hook and yarn would suffice. There will be lots of prizes, including a signed copy of “Crochet So Fine” , “Wrapped In Crochet”, a LionBrand.com gift credit of $25, PDF patterns from my pattern line, coupons and much more. Everyone will be a winner! See you there!

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 5: Lower Body and Modifications

October 20th, 2010

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Have you tried on your sweater yet? I have, and although I have my heart set on a longer vest, I know I would be happy with a shorter cardi if I finished now, too.

I just passed the point where the pattern states to separate for the side vents. The reason I added side vents to this design is because I like extra hip ease in my sweaters. First, I think it is like an optical illusion of having shaping in the waist of the sweater. I personally find it to be more comfortable than something with actual waist shaping. That is why in this design I added the belt-loop holes so you can customize the amount of cinching you desire on any given day you wear the sweater. The hip ease adds to the contrast of your custom waist cinching.

As I was crocheting along this week, I realized that this particular pattern would be really easy to modify for increases, so I chose to make another modification and keep the lower body intact (without side vents) but still keep the hip ease. If you are making the side vents (as the pattern calls for) you will still be working even in the pattern, but working in sections, dividing the body into 4 equal parts (1 each for the right and left front, and 2 for the back). I decided to make increases within the pattern for the hip ease instead of separating for side vents. Today, I will explain how you can, too.

However many repeats of the pattern you have (mine has 38), you need to divide your stitches into 4 equal parts. Because mine has 4 equal sets of 9 repeats plus 2 repeats, I chose to work my increases on both sides of the extra stitch. For example, on the sc, ch5 row when I complete 9 repeats, I work an extra repeat into the same stitch, work the next repeat, then make an extra repeat in the same stitch, and continue evenly across the row. If yours has a perfect multiple of 4, simply work your increases on either side of 2 repeats instead of either side of 1 repeat as in the photo.

Increase row

On the subsequent rows, I work even in the stitch pattern. Here is what it looks like after the next row:

Next row of pattern worked even

And here is what it looks like after you work 2 more rows:

Continuing to work even in pattern

Notice how smooth and barely noticeable the increases are. By working 4 increases in the one row, I added 4″ ease to the hip area of my sweater. I think that is plenty for a relaxed fit sweater. If you wanted more swing in yours, I would work another set of increases in the same position (for a total of 8″ increase in the hip section). I tried my sweater on at this point today, and if I were going to add sleeves, I think I would consider this shorter hip-length for the sweater. But for a sleeveless vest, I want to balance everything out with a longer body. It was tempting, but I’m sticking with my plan. I have been shopping for a sheer silk leopard scarf to use as a belt. No luck yet, but I’m still hopeful. In the meantime, back to my hook!

This week I will be finishing up the last few inches of the sweater and working the edging. Next week, I’ll demonstrate the edging, talk about the sleeves and sleeveless modifications and finish up my sweater. I’ll go through the blocking process, laundering of handmade specialty garments and my tips on styling your new sweater!

Happy Crocheting!

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 4: Bodice and Modifications

October 13th, 2010

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Before we begin with today’s blog post, I want to share a video with you. There have been a lot of questions about how to work the clusters, so I decided to make a video demonstrating how to work the clusters sideways by working them into the side of the previous single crochet. In the video, I crochet a dc-cluster, tr-cluster and dtr-cluster.

In the video, the sweater on the dressform beside me is my work-in-progress Mocha Microspun cardigan. My Pearl’s Cardigan is coming along nicely! How is yours? I finished the yoke, separated for front, sleeves and back, and crocheted the body down to the point where you split ‘right and left fronts’ from ‘back’ to incorporate side vents into the sweater. Here are a few images of the front, side and back of the Mocha Pearl’s Cardigan at my current progress level:

Kristin's Current Progress on Pearl's Cardigan

If you are making a custom sweater, please note that when we separate for fronts, sleeves and back, the yoke is evenly divided into six parts (1 part for each front, 1 part for each sleeve and 2 parts for the back). Then we add enough underarm chains to add enough circumference for the right side bust of the sweater and keep in mind that the amount of chains worked must equal a multiple of the stitch pattern. Some participants desire a wider armhole opening. There are a couple of ways this can be achieved:

  1. You can replace the underarm chains with foundation single crochet stitches instead. Foundation Single Crochet (FSC) stitches are much stretchier than chains and this can give you a little more ease.
  2. You can add more chains (or foundation single crochets) to your underarm stitches. Please keep in mind that you should add them in increments of the stitch pattern (+4, +8, +12, etc…)

Another modification to consider is that you can control the length of the sweater at this point.

  1. If you desire a cropped cardigan, I think you could stop after the belt-loop row and skip to the edging. Weave a belt or sash though the waist and you are done! I would style this with a fit and flare dress, or with a longer tunic and cute jeans.
  2. For an empire waist, you could work the belt-loop row a few inches above where the pattern suggests you add it (a few inches below the armhole opening). The beauty of a top-down sweater is you can try it on as you go, and decide where the waist works best on you! I would still work this empire-waist-modified sweater to the original length in the pattern.
  3. If you prefer to omit the belt-loop row, that is OK, too! Perhaps you would prefer buttons, securing with a shawl pin, or wearing the sweater casually worn open. Simply skip the belt-loop row, but add enough repeats of the body stitch pattern to achieve the desired finished length.

Next week, we will further discuss modifications. If you don’t like the side vents, you could add increases at this point to create a fuller hip width. I will crochet mine both ways to show you the difference. I am considering a sleeveless vest modification, adding the hip increases instead of side vents, and increasing the length by a few inches (using up the yarn that should have been used for the sleeves). I will show you the original sweater in close-up and compare it closely with any modifications I end up using.

Happy crocheting! I’ll be looking for your questions and comments in the coming week!

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 3: Let’s Get Started!

October 6th, 2010

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I’m so excited to share this week’s blog with you because I want to share with you how to customize this pattern to your size–not necessarily one of the sizes written in the pattern. This cardigan is a formula-based top-down construction that I developed over the last few years and one I turn to every time I want to make myself a sweater without following a pattern or writing one first. One of my favorite benefits of this style of sweater is that you can use any stitch pattern and all the increases are worked in only one row, which means you are not increasing in the stitch pattern. I think that is fantastic for a relaxing project or a beginner project.

Because the sweater is a top-down construction, we always begin with the neck. When determining the size, my theory is to work the neck at 50% of the circumference of the bust, and work triple increases in the first row of stitches (working 3 sts in each stitch across or around). The widest point of the yoke should be 3 times the size of the neck (or 1.5 times the bust). For the yoke, you simply work even in your choses stitch pattern for the length of the yoke. Separating the front(s), sleeves and back are easy too: divide the stitches into 6 even parts. One part each for each sleeve, 2 parts for the back, and 2 parts for a solid front or one part each for a separated right and left front (cardigan). Based on ease, insert the appropriate number of chains in the underarm for your comfort (usually 1 – 3” of chains). For a stretchier underarm, use foundation stitches instead of chains.

For Pearl’s Cardigan, I came up with a variation of my original formula pattern template. Because I wanted the look of 3 strands of pearls around the top of the yoke, I increased the size of the “pearls” for each of the rows, then on the following row (when the regular stitch pattern begins) I worked a double increase (instead of a triple increase in the original pattern template). This combination of increases gave the same desired width at the end of the yoke.

When separating for the fronts, sleeves and back, I still used my original theory of splitting into 6 parts.

Some people will find this conceptual information important, while others may prefer the line-by-line instructions in the pattern. Either way, I hope you feel welcome and encouraged to join me in making Pearl’s Cardigan.

Since I have the original 36” bust sweater and find it to be a little too snug on me, I decided to make the 40” bust sweater for the crochet-along. I ordered 10 balls of Microspun in Coffee (instead of the 9 balls required in the pattern) because I knew I would be making some extra swatches for the blog posts and showing some modifications in the following weeks.

Last week, I began the size 40” cardigan in Cleveland, Ohio when I was taping the next season of Knitting Daily TV (season 600) which will begin airing in January 2011. This photo is of me starting the neck of my cardigan while in the green room, waiting to go on set:

Kristin in the Green Room at KGTV

Have you worked sideways clusters before? That is what I used for the “pearls” in the first few rows of the yoke. They are pretty simple to crochet: similar to a cluster at the beginning of a row that uses a set of chains for the first stitch, you work 3 stitches together (like a decrease), BUT the only difference is that you work this entire cluster into the SIDE of the single crochet just made. Normally, we work our stitches into the top “v” of the stitches in the row below, but in this instance, we work into the side of the single crochet just made – in the same row. The stitch will appear horizontal when you complete the next sc. The small “pearls” on row 2 are double crochet based, the medium “pearls” on row 4 are treble crochet based, and the large “pearls” on row 6 are double treble crochet based. On row 8, the double increases are worked so the number of ch5 spaces are doubled (this completes increases for the rest of the yoke and sweater). Rows 9 – 10 are repeated until you reach the length of your yoke. Don’t be afraid to try on the sweater and adjust the length of the yoke for your body. I put mine on the dressform and pulled the fabric taut with straight pins to make sure it looked like the right length.

Yoke Front
Yoke Side

Yoke Back

Join me next week when we will talk about separating for front(s), sleeves and back and begin discussing the many types of modifications to consider. Happy crocheting!!

How far are you in your  sweater? Share a link to your blog or Flickr account — or post your photos in our Ravelry group!

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 2: Swatch and Gauge

September 29th, 2010

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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:

Measuring Flat Sweater

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.

Stitch Gauge BEFORE Swatching

Row Gauge BEFORE Swatching

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.

Stitch Gauge AFTER Blocking

Row Gauge AFTER Blocking

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!

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Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 1: Choosing Yarn and Color

September 22nd, 2010

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Hi everyone!

Pearl'sCardiYarnChoice

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.

PearlsCardiBlush

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):
MicrospunCoffee MicrospunMocha

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:

MicrospunFuschia 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!
MicrospunBlush 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.
MicrospunLilac 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?)
MicrospunTurquoise 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!

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