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.
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.
There was a time when I did laundry and the most sorting I would do for my loads would be to separate the whites and colors. I washed everything in hot water, and threw them all into a hot dryer to dry. Needless to say, my cashmere sweater was no longer a recognizable garment. It shrunk incredibly and had multiple holes in it; that sweater was dead. Thankfully it wasn’t a hand-made item, but it still hurt to lose it – so today, I’ll share some tips on how to properly wash those yarn-crafted goods that you spent your precious time and energy on.
I love granny squares because they make it so easy to play with exciting colors. Often, my squares end up with different colored borders, so how do I choose a shade to seam them? The answer’s easy: I can use any color because I use an invisible seam! This super easy technique creates a durable seam that disappears into your crocheting. Ready to get started? Gather your granny squares and follow the steps below!
Step 1: Gather your materials: finished granny squares, a blunt needle, and your seaming yarn (I used a contrasting yarn for demonstration, but you may want to use matching yarn). Lay your granny squares side to side with the front side facing up.
Step 2: Insert your needle into your first crochet stitch from the back to the front.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 on the opposite side. Continue this process on each stitch, alternating between sides. It’s sort of like lacing shoes.
Step 4: Ready for that seam to disappear? Lightly pull on both ends of your seaming yarn.
Step 5: Repeat with all squares, and that’s all there is to invisible seaming! Remember to weave in your ends and enjoy your new granny square project.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m still a beginner yarn crafter, as I just learned how to knit last summer. Since I’m not as experienced as others, I’m always thankful when I find tips or new techniques to improve my knitting experience as a whole. Lion Brand just released an e-book entitled Secret Stash: Helpful Tips For Yarn Lovers, which is a compilation of tips submitted by users like you, ranging in topics from organization, how to teach others to knit/crochet, easy ways work with multiple yarns at once, and a lot more. As a little sneak peek, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips with you!
I think this one is my favorite:
“I knit up gauge swatches for the yarns in my stash and staple them to index cards on a spiral ring.
I write the yarn name, color name, care instructions, needle size and gauge on each card. That way, the next time I use that yarn, I don’t have to swatch again. It also works well as a color wheel for choosing shades for a new project”
-Collen M. Palmer
So you’ve spent hours working on an incredible project, and it’s finally finished. What’s the next step? Take a picture to document the items (and maybe to show off on Facebook or Ravelry). You don’t need an expensive camera or photography classes to take great photos! These 5 tips are quick and easy to execute, so you’ll be taking great photos in no time!
1. Turn off the flash! Use natural light instead. Flash tends to flatten an image, which can make it difficult to see your beautiful stitches. Natural light will make your photos look more true-to-life, so try to photograph during daylight hours. Avoid the direct, harsh midday sun, though — this will wash out your image, just like the flash does. In the picture below, you can see that the photo taken with flash made the colors appear harsher. The image is also flatter and sharper, making the yarn appear shiny (which it is not in real life). The natural light photo shows both the colors and textures much more accurately.
In a recent essay in our newsletter, The Weekly Stitch, Michelle Edwards, author of A Knitter’s Home Companion, discusses project sustainability. Michelle writes,
“Sustainability is about working a project from the first to last stitch, sewing it up, and weaving in loose ends. Blocking it, if needed.”
Her essay discusses the importance of managing your projects, and considering the different factors that help you decide what the purpose of your project is (who is it for, time allotment, yarn needed, etc).
For example, when you see that luxurious, super soft, richly colored skein of yarn, ask yourself: Do you just have to have it? Can it work into a project you have in mind?
Michelle shares her tips with us to help become more efficient yarncrafters. Maybe after you read her story you’ll start tackling some of those WIPs (Work In Progess) that are laying around in storage!
What do you do to ensure that your project is sustainable? Share some of your tips and thoughts with us int he comments.
Do you ever seen an amazing pattern and think, “Wow, I love that, but I wish it were made in a different yarn”? Substituting a different yarn is an easy way to make a pattern truly unique. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a different yarn. Let’s use the Inishturk Sweater as an example to illustrate each of these tips.
1. Check your gauge. You’ll get the best results when you substitute a yarn with the same or similar gauge. But what if you’re browsing yarn in a store? You can’t just pull out your hooks and needles and do a gauge swatch without buying the yarn! In this case, look for a yarn within the same weight category, and then gauge swatch after your purchase. In our example, the Inishturk Sweater is knit in Fishermen’s Wool, which is a worsted weight yarn, so you could consider substitution yarns like Amazing, Vanna’s Choice, Cotton-Ease, and more. If you really want to use a yarn with a different gauge, you’ll need to do some math. Click here for a blog post all about substituting different yarn weights.
Hi, everyone. Today I’m going to be talking about the final stages of making your sweater, and how you can keep on adding design elements even after all the knitting is complete! Once you’ve picked up the bands and sewn the sleeve seams and woven in all those ends, there’s still things you can do to change the look of your sweater.
One of my favorite ways to add some interest to a plain stockinette sweater is embroidery. I enjoy doing a method called duplicate stitch, with which you can put pictures on your garment, similar in look to intarsia, but much less fiddly! If you find an intarsia chart you like the look of, you can actually use this method to embroider it on to your sweater. It’s also a great way to use up random scraps of yarn!
With duplicate stitch, you are actually mimicking the look of stockinette stitch. You use a darning needle threaded with yarn in a different color to your base fabric, drawing over the chosen stitches so that they are covered with the different colored strand of yarn. This is a very easy method to add little motifs to your work. Be wary of covering large areas of fabric with this method, however, as it does make the fabric doubly thick in the covered areas.
Did you know that March is both National Crochet Month and National Craft Month? It’s such an exciting month, and there are so many different ways to celebrate. Our favorite way, of course, is to give back to others through teaching. If you’d like to teach a friend, relative, or complete stranger how to crochet or knit, we have many resources to support you. You can find helpful instructions, illustrations, and videos at learntocrochet.lionbrand.com and learntoknit.lionbrand.com.
We also have lots of blog posts to support your teaching. Here are some of our favorite posts.
As you’re teaching friends, remember to check out the two great sweepstakes sponsored by our friends at Knitty Daily. Click here to find out how you can win some amazing books and DVDs. I hope you celebrate the rest of the month with tons of crafting, crocheting, and knitting!