Yes, Swatches Lie…Well Maybe….

Yes, swatches lie. Well that is a bit harsh…really they can be a bit misleading.

To start with there is the famous question, “Do I need to make a swatch?” Well only if you want to ensure that you meet the gauge of the pattern. Gauge helps to ensure that the pattern comes out the same size, but it also ensures that your fabric has the same drape as that of the original design. If this is important to you, then yes, you need to swatch.

That being said there are some road blocks that stop many people from making a swatch.

First there is no actual directions for making a swatch, the gauge lists the number of stitches and rows that fit the given measurements, but that is where the information ends. If you are a new crocheter this can be a bit difficult to decipher, as you need to read and understand your pattern and then make assumptions from this.

One of the ways to make these assumptions is simply to make a chain longer than the given measurement for the gauge. By a rule of thumb add make the swatch at least 40% bigger than is measured, so if it states 4” (10cm), make a swatch of 5 ½” (14 cm). This is so you can take the measurement from of the stitches and rows without using the edges of the swatch, as the edges can distort the measurement.

If the gauge gives a stitch pattern, work this in rows until the rows measure larger than the given measurement. However this is only step one.

The next step to ensure you are getting an accurate measurement is to block your swatch. Essentially you want to treat your wash as you would the finished item, so if it is hand washed then hand wash, if it is machine wash then machine wash, and let dry.

Now you can take the measurement and to ensure that you meet gauge, to proceed with your pattern. If you need to adjust your hook size to obtain gauge you will need to repeat the process in a new hook size and repeat.

However here is the honesty, very few of us go through these steps. I know when I get my yarn I want to dive right in and get to creating, but sometimes I do have to pay the price for this. I may need to rip back and rework if things are not coming out as expected.

So how can I find a happy medium between creating a swatch and just enjoying my crochet? My tip is to check my work regularly. I may block an item before I head to bed, after a day of stitching, and check my gauge in the morning. If it is on course I feel free to continue onward, if it is a bit off it is a day to rip back and begin anew. This may be a bit of a gamble in losing a day’s worth of work, but it keeps me enjoying my stitching while still being happy with the outcome.

Change the Yarn- Tips for Yarn Substitutions

We have all done it, and sometimes it goes well, others it does not. I am talking about yarn substitution.

Honestly, I never really thought about the yarn I was substituting. I would find a yarn I loved then pick out a pattern I liked and just begin working up my stitches. I never looked at gauge, I never paid attention the fiber or even the weight of the yarn.

In some cases things worked out fine, in others I found myself with items smaller, or firmer, or just plain awkward looking. So I have learned, and it is time to share some insights.

First realize that the pattern you find was designed in a specific yarn. The way it looks in the photo is because of this specific yarn. Changing the yarn will change the effect, maybe the drape, maybe even the size.

Now what to compare to make the change.

Check the weight of the yarn. The weight is in essence the diameter of the strand of yarn, it can be assigned a number (from 0 lace-7 super chunky) or given a name such as lace, thread, sock, fingering, baby, sport, DK, worsted, Aran, chunky, craft, bulky, roving.  These numbers or names are assigned by the manufacture and finding matching yarns at least get you in the ball park that the yarns are similar.

However there are times that you pick up a yarn and it doesn’t have a weight listing by number of name, but it does have a knitting gauge listed. This gauge can help you make the weight comparison too. Yarns that have the same gauge, using the same size needles, will be also be compatible in weight. If the yarns are using the same size needles in the gauge but the stitch and row counts are not the same, the yarn with the higher number of stitches in the gauge will be thinner than the other.

Another way many compare the weight, is to compare the yard/meters and the ounces/grams of the skein. If a skein states that it is 400yrd/366m and 1.75oz/50g it would be compatible with a yarn of 425rds/388m and 1.75oz/50g, but not compatible with a yarn that was listed as 600yd/549m and 1.75oz/50g, as the latter yarn is much thinner. It is a comparison of yards/meters and comparison if ounces/grams that help you see if things are in the same ball park.

The next thing to consider when comparing yarns if the fiber content. In some cases it may not make much of a difference, but a few fibers act completely different from one another. For instance if you are substituting a wool yarn with a lot of bounce or springiness, with a 100% silk you fabric will not even resemble each other. The silk tends to have a lot of drape, it flows, and in comparison to the wool will be limper. Whereas the wool will have some stretch and spring back into place.

Yarns with similar fiber content will behave similarly, so use caution if the labels vary greatly.

Now that you have found a yarn to substitute, if you want to ensure that you will be happy with the outcome of your project, make a gauge swatch. If you make gauge and are happy with how the fabric feels and looks, make your project.

 

Excursion Wrap! This Is A Show Stopper!

I love when a design comes out like I was hoping! Excursion Wrap came out just as I envisioned, okay, better than I could have hoped. I saw this design in my mind as soon as I laid hands on the yarn, it just came to me and I had to find a way to get it worked up in the stitches.

Excursion Wrap

That is not to say that it came out perfectly in just one try, I ripped things back several times. I played with some different combinations of stitches and color sequins before finally landing on the perfection, and the difficulty of using multiple color rows and designing like this is when ripping back I end up with many more ends to weave in….some right in the middle of rows, as I ensure the use of all the yarn.

The wrap is worked in 2 contrasting colors, which offer a bold definition of the design. The yarn is Silk Baby Camel by Lisa Souza Dyeworks, and is lusciously yummy! It is soft, but with nice structure, making it a dream to work with. Being that the pattern only takes 2 skeins, it is manageable in both crocheting and in cost.

The lacy ripple pattern is worked as a 3 row repeat, so it is simple to memorize yet keeps the pattern engaging. So you can work the stitch pattern successfully without getting bored with it.

The color sequencing is what really brings this design to life, it demands the eye to transverse the entire piece and then to look again. The altering of the stitch pattern and the colors offers a cascading effect of interest that will definitely have you garnering praise.

This wrap is a show stopper, one that makes people stop and admire your handiwork. I already have plans to work up this design a couple of more times….once is just not enough!

Get your pattern here!

 

The Quest Shawl- A Stunning Design

Check out my fun new design, the Quest Shawl!

This asymmetrical shawl, is one that I envisioned after meeting the yarn creator Sabrina of Anzula Yarns. Sabrina exudes a great energy, and that really comes out in all the fabulous colors of her yarn. It really is an inspiration for me, and I have a couple more designs in the works as I speak (I hope to share them soon).

Quest Shawl

So, Quest Shawl is worked from a point with subtle increases working outward to form a triangle, in a pattern of lace stitches and textural stitches. This stitch difference is played with a contrasting color change and you have some very dramatic effects. It has a simple stitch pattern repeat, yet enough focus to keep the pattern entertaining.

The long dimensions of this shawl, a staggering 77”x45” (196×114 cm), it can lend itself to multiple ways to wear it, as well as offer a balanced feel. It was pointed out to me that this shawl actually manages to have enough length that when wearing it that the narrow point drapes evenly with a point on the opposite side. This may not seem like much, but I have noticed that smaller shawls of this type, almost feel like the narrow point can be a bit of a tail.

The yarn is Haiku, a light weight 70% Superwash Merino/20% Bamboo/10 % nylon yarn, which is really soft and luscious. I really love how it drapes, and the feel in the hand.

I have found that when I wear this shawl, that I get stopped with compliments. I usually pair it over a black dress, but even over a pair of jeans and simple top this shawl offers a look that is hard to forget.

Get your show stopper and have fun creating your own stunning look (find the pattern here).

 

 

Rip Back Crochet, Maybe Applies to Life

I hate it when I can see the design, but it wants to fight me into existence. That is the plight I am on currently with one project. This is not always my design style, seeing the vision and needing to create it, but it occurs periodically, and when it does it can be a bit of a head ache.

Often times it is because the final vision does not always offer hints how to create it, there is a stumbling point or a chasm that needs to be addressed. No, my vision does not share the “how”, so things may end up in time out more than expected. I may rip back the entire piece several times….I am currently on the third full draft of “over half way” rip back…I lost count on the ones smaller than that.

I guess I should say “current” project, as I know of another that has been haunting me for more months that I care to admit, as my mind is still figuring out the last piece before it can be considered finished.

Looking at my words as I type them, I realize really this is just life, at least for me. If I don’t know all the steps it can be harder for me to begin. I am able to work from one step to the next, but if the next step is not in clear focus, well, I hedge and stall and may not get to the finished goal.

Sometimes I see this as a sign that I should take another direction, or look for another goal in life…yes, I do it in designing too, but maybe I should rip back a bit more and take the step from another direction. Just as I will finish this design that showed up in my head, maybe I need to remember to take the same approach in life.

Sorry didn’t mean to get philosophical, but crochet can do that to me sometimes.