Cooler weather reminds me of a learning experience I have had with crochet, something that I greatly appreciate and has changed my approach to my personal wardrobe; being able to create a sweater that actually fits.
Now I am not a seamstress, nor am I altering crochet patterns to a great degree to add bust darts or remove some extra fabric at the arms. That is a little more technical than I like to get. I was, at one time, very intimidated with even the idea of making a sweater, but once I realized that I was really only making fabric, it helped to remove the anxiety and allow me to expand my repute and create clothing. But when I finally undertook the challenge of making my own sweater, I could actually make them long enough to actually keep the chill off!
Now I am not a small petite little woman, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I come from a larger stock. As I remind my daughter, we have Viking heritage, and when you think of Vikings you do not readily think of tiny fragile women, you think of women that can make their presence known. A drawback to this body style is that standard clothing does not easily meet our needs. The biggest problem I have is a long waist; there is considerable distance between by last rib and my hips, yet most off-the-rack shirts have standard length that ends up resting just at the top of my hip bone. A little extra length creates a nicer appearance for me, in my opinion, and the more practical it keeps me covered better.
So how do I tie this to crochet? Well, it is relatively easy to add a little extra and make a sweater longer then is written; I just have to understand where to look. For a pattern written from the top down, this is pretty simple, I just continue working until I am happy with the length. For the more common bottom-up patterns, I have to do a little more planning. I have to pay attention to the gauge that is given and do a little math. It is not something to run away from, it is really not that hard. I simply figure out the number of rows per inch, and then figure the number of inches that I want to add to the final measurements provided in the pattern, and add the number of corresponding rows at the beginning of my stitching. To make my life easier when counting rows and knowing where I am in a pattern, I take a safety pin and insert it at the end of the last “added” row then I “begin” the actual pattern so now I start Row 1.
There is another way I can lengthen my sweater, but it is not my first or favorite choice, for a couple of reasons. This is adding an edging to the hem of the sweater; to begin with it takes away from the original design. I chose the pattern for a reason and attempting to add on an edging that actually compliments the overall design is more difficult than it sounds. This comes to the other problem I find with this approach, all of my attempts to do such, look like an afterthought. It does not flow like I would like, and therefore doesn’t end up as my favorite sweater to wear.
One thing I can say for adding some extra fabric to my sweaters, it has allowed me to take more pride in my stitching. Now not only can my loved ones enjoy the blankets I have made them, or keep warm with a hat, I can enjoy my own work and have something that feels more comfortable in the long run.