Monday, May 31, 2010

pattern content, gauge and substitutions


1. Materials needed
(i) hook size (ii) Yarn information:
a. suggested yarn (color/brand)
b. weight (sport, worsted, bulky, etc.) sometimes accompanied by
universal no. 1, 2, 3, 4.
c. ounces or yardage needed to complete project
d. gauge (amount of stitches/rows per inch)

2. Stitches used (ch, sl st, sc, hdc, dc, trc, etc. or special stitches)

3. Stitch sequence (how the stitches are put together to form the piece)


1. When and why gauge is important / finished measurements, sizing and fit:
a. When FIT doesn't matter: If the project is a blanket, scarf, stuffed animal, purse/tote - gauge is not crucially important. If a baby blanket's measurement is quoted in a pattern as 24" X 24", and your finished piece is 25"X25" or 23"X23" that is immaterial to the item's function. Thus, if FIT doesn't matter, gauge doesn't matter. Go ahead and use the recommended hook and yarn, or substitute a like-weight yarn, and the finished size will be fine.
b. When FIT matters (sweater/hat/socks, etc.) correct gauge is crucial. We naturally assume that, by using the stated hook size and exact recommended brand/weight yarn, the the item will be identical to the project's specified size/fit. Generally, this WILL be the case. However, by taking the time to work up a gauge swatch, the possibility of sizing errors (and disappointment in a finished project) is eliminated.

2. Reasons for differing gauge (too small, too big)
a. Naturally crocheting tightly or loosely; correcting gauge with hook substitution:
Patterns intended to fit generally list the gauge and suggest working up a gauge swatch, which is a small sample of the stitches worked over a few repeats. For instance, an item worked in double crochet gives the gauge: 8 rows and 8 stitches = 2 inches. Using the suggested hook and suggested weight/brand yarn, you would crochet 8 double crochet stitches for 8 rows, then measure your swatch with a ruler, from side to side and top to bottom. If your result is a perfect square 2"X2", your gauge is correct, and your item will fit as specified. If your gauge swatch measures 1.5"X1.5", you should try a larger hook and work another swatch. Chances are, this combination will give you perfect gauge. Conversely, if your initial gauge swatch is 4.5"X4.5", you should try a smaller hook to reach gauge. Thus, talking the time to make gauge swatch will let you know whether or not your item will fit before you start the actual project.

b. Yarn substitution (from that suggested in pattern):
When substituting yarns, look to the yarn information, which can be found on its label, on the pattern, or on the internet if not given in the pattern. Look to substitute a like-weight yarn. Unfortunately, not all yarn properties are even across the board. For instance, a perfect example of this is worsted weight Red Heart Supersaver vs. Caron's Simply Soft. The label for each of these yarns states "worsted weight" with a universal number "4". However, Caron's Simply Soft is visibly thinner, and a bit "more stretchy" thus, the same hook, same stitches, and same amount of rows, will give a slightly smaller result than RHSS, simply due to the different qualities of each yarn--even tho both are listed as being the same. Another difference is that the RHSS swatch will be stiffer while the Caron's SS swatch will have a silky drape. The same "fix" applies here...make a gauge swatch, if it is too small, try another with a larger hook--conversely, if it is too large, try again with a smaller hook--in this instance, the key to getting the right gauge for the pattern is hook size.

OF MOST IMPORTANCE: When switching yarns you must "get the same" stitches per inch, which is generally specified on a yarn's label, or in the internet description, and is a good starting point for finding like-weight substitutions.

Lastly, make sure you have ENOUGH yards/ounces of the substituted yarn. The yardage/ounces can be found on the label. This is especially important if the suggested yarn/brand comes in skeins, and the yarn you wish to substitute comes in balls or hanks. Get enough YARDS to complete your project.

working in rounds

closing the hole:
The majority of hat patterns work from the top down, in the round, and begin with 4 or 5 chains, joining with a slip stitch to the first chain, forming a ring, and placing X amount of stitches into the ring. Round 2 is probably 2 stitches into each stitch of the previous row. Round 3 is probably 1,2,1,2, etc. More than likely, the hat is worked in double crochet stitch.
Basically, we follow instructions as written in a pattern. However, there are a few little tricks to start "in the round" projects that differ from many standard patterns. Some you will have heard of; some not.
Tip 1. Work over the tail so the initial hole at the top of the item can be cinched closed. This, we do by holding the tail parallel to the ring and crocheing over it, thereafter pulling the worked over tail snug, then weaving it through the top (or threading a darning needle and making a few stitches) to set the cinching, cut the tail. I always teach this method.
Tip 2. An alternate way to work "chain 4, join with slip stitch to form a ring" is to eliminate the ring altogether. Instead: Chain 4, and work the number of double crochet stitches that you would have worked into the ring into the first chain instead. This leaves a smaller hole at the top. With this method, you will not be able to cinch the hole closed with the tail, but rather, weave the tail in to hide it, cut the tail.
Tip 3. "Magic Adjustable Ring" or "Magic Loop": Instructions for this technique, complete with illustrations, can be found here: Basically, you twist a piece of yarn into a loop, without knotting or chaining. The "magic loop" replaces the need to chain to form the ring. The stitches are worked into the loop, making sure to work them over where the yarn loop crosses itself, and then the 2 ends can be pulled tight and cinched to close the hole. It is a brilliant technique for guaranteeing the elimination of holes at the start of your "in the round" project.
Note: not all items worked "in the round" will be exactly round: for instance...the granny square.
Below is a short list of abbreviations for crochet stitches and instructions. While these are the most common abbreviations, many more standardized abbreviations are used in crochet patterns. An internet search of abbreviated crochet terms will return many hits, and is encouraged.
STITCHES, generally
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet
tr = triple crochet
trc = triple crochet
dtr = double triple crochet
dtrc = double triple crochet
sl st = slip stitch
shell = a number of dc or tr worked into one stitch or space (specific directions given per pattern)
V stitch = 1dc-1ch-1dc or variation that when complete forms a "V" (specific directions given per pattern)
yo = yarn over (grab yarn)
lp = loop
sp = space
dc2tog = crochet 2 stitches together (like a decrease)
dec = decrease
inc = increase
st = stitch
cl = cluster (combining 2 or more stitches in one space/stitch, i.e., 3 dc in one stitch = cluster)
sk = skip
This list will be revisited in later volumes.
For an online Crochet Abbreviations Master List see:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

here we go :)

I have been putting together a few tips and tricks sheets for use by anyone who wants some extra information on crocheting. While I've been trying to keep them short, sometimes there is a lot of information that begs to be covered and....well, I hope I haven't been rambling on in them. Note that much of this is comprised of my thoughts and ideas and what I felt was "needed to know." Some of it is readily available from the internet, or referenced with an url for directing traffic to those sites. It should be clear where that occurs. My "cheat sheets" won't encompass everything, and certainly I'm not an authority, so if you want to question any of it, I welcome the questions and comments. I'm sure I'll add more if and as necessary.

I know what I know from experience, training and teaching. Based on feedback from some crochet students, these are my information compilations. It is bound to be interesting with a few choice alphabets missing from my .... keyboard. Well well well...."k" is working now and I've revisited this entry to put it in where needed...but another isn't. Lets say I live in New ersey and you'll see what one of those alphabets is :). To shorten this entry, I'll end it here and state that I'll be posting the tips and tricks hereon. I'm only beginning to blog. *smile*