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.

Stair Step Wrap- Free Pattern

I have always appreciated relatively simple repeat patterns that are successful with only 1 skein, so playing with this design I have actually created a few different variation. The Stair Step Wrap increases is worked side to side, with one edge being straight and the other having all the increasing and decreasing be worked.

It is simple enough to use any yarn in this pattern, simply choose a compatible hook for the yarn, and work the increase end of the pattern until you have used half of the yarn, then begin the decrease end of the pattern. To know if you have reached the “half way” point of a skein, you can use a kitchen scale to weigh the remaining yarn and subtract this from the total weight of the skein. This should be noted on the band wrapper for the yarn, if not simply weigh all the yarn, used and unused together and divide by 2 to find the halfway point.

Stair Step Wrap

Materials:

  • Mountain Colors Twizzle light weight 85% merino wool, 15% silk yarn (100g/240 yrds) colorway Lupine
  • L/8mm crochet hook

Special Stitches

BegV= (Ch 4, dc in same st) counts as dc + ch 1

V st= (dc, ch 1, dc) in same st

Increase End

Row 1: Ch 4, dc in first ch, turn.

Row 2: BegV, sk 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 3: Ch 3, V st between 1st 2 sts, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 4: BegV, V st between next V sts, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 5: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet V sts, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 6: BegV, V st bet each V st across, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 7: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet each V sts across, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 8-31: Rep Rows 6 & 7

Row 32: Rep Row 6

Decrease End

Row 33: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet each V sts across, sk dc and 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 34: Ch 3, V st bet each V st across, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 35-62: Rep Rows 33 & 34

Row 63: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, sk dc and 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 64: Ch 3, sk V st, dc in turning ch, fasten off. Weave in ends, block.

I have worked this up in a couple of different yarns, this one I like too. It was made with Plymouth Yarns Arya Ebruli 

 

Stacked Ladders Cowl- Free Pattern

I find that there are times when designs just fly off my hook, while the other times I cannot even bring myself to pick up that hook. Fortunately I have been living in the world of the former and not the latter as of late. As a result I have a new free pattern available for you!

Stacked Ladders Cowl grew out of my playing with a skein of Anzula Croquet yarn. The yarn is light weight and a 50/50 blend of Superwash Merino and Tussah Silk. It honestly is a luxurious yarn to work with, it is so soft and even what I would call billowy or lofty, while still being quite structurally strong.

This Cowl takes only 1 skein, and is a quick project, so it is perfect to check out a “new to you” yarn while creating a gift for yourself or someone special.

It is a light, airy design that is a great transition piece for fall or spring. If you are not a cowl fan, it is simple enough to just work it as a scarf.

This design is worked up with a large hook, but if you do not have anything quite this large, use the largest hook you feel comfortable with, you will be happy with the results.

Stacked Ladders Cowl

Materials:

  • Anzula Croquet light weight 50% superwash merino, 50% tussah silk yarn, (230yrds/210m/114g) sample colorway Madam
  • L/8mm crochet hook

Ch 34

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sk 3 chs, (ch 3, sc in next ch) 8 times, turn.

Rows 2 and 3: Ch 1, sc in same st, (ch 3, sc in next sc) 8 times, turn.

Row 4: Ch 6, dc in next sc, (ch 3, dc in next sc) 7 times, turn.

Row 5: Ch 1, sc in same st, (ch 3, sc in next dc) 7 times, ch 3, sk 3 chs, sc in next ch, turn.

Rows 6 and 7: Rep Rows 2 and 3.

Row 8: Rep Row 4.

Rows 9-100: Rep rows 5-8. Fasten off. Seam Row 1 to Row 100 while weaving in ends.

 

Camac- My New Favorite Design

Crochet and time have interesting effects for me. I have spoken before about how crochet traps memories and such (you can read that here), but designing can also be a bit of a time travel. I can be commissioned to create a design for a yarn company or magazine and after it is finished I have to wait months to see how everything finally comes out.

After waiting what seems like forever, I am finally able to share the Camac! This is a long cardigan or coat, depending on your leaning, that really lends itself to style and comfort. It is mid-thigh length and worked in as seamless as possible, needing only seam the shoulders and sleeves, the body is worked as one piece.

The simple stitch pattern really allows the yarn to make some dazzling affects as it shines as the hero. This design is created in Manos del Uruguay Gloria, a soft superwash Merino medium weight yarn, which is a dream to work with. It has nice stitch definition and has a great variety of colors (my sample is in colorway Malaquita)

There is a simple turned edge boarding this entire coat that is actually the same stitch pattern as the rest of the fabric but uses a much larger hook to create a contrast in the fabric. The change in the hook size causes a tension between the two fabrics and this causes the edge to curl. I think it adds a simple yet endearing quality to this design.

Honestly I love the mid-thigh length, it offers a wrap yourself up in it kind of feel, that warms my heart has well as keeps me warm. I tend to find that sweaters designed to hit the waist area makes me look a bit shorter while a longer length helps elongate my appearance, so I tend to lean this way a bit in my designing. If for some reason you want to make this design shorter for your liking, simply finish the row rep for the Body section a few rows early.

It is nice to finally see the end product of your work, it is usually always worth the wait (you can check it out here).

Photos courtesy of Fairmount Fibers.

Gotta Love that Shawl- Free Pattern

Since I have been playing around with some stitches, and attempting to finish some yarn in my stash, I have a free pattern to share. Gotta Love that Wrap is worked entirely of Love Knots! If you are not familiar with the stitch I have a tutorial here.

I love how you can use this pattern really with any yarn, although I prefer it with lighter weight yarns. The Wrap in phots here was actually worked up in Plymouth Yarns Linaza, which is 50% alpaca, 25% linen and 25% Tencel, so it really hold the shape of the knot.

The benefit of this yarn is that it really allows the yarn to go along way, the yarn I used was 100g/440yards, and as you can see it made for a wide and long wrap. So feel free to pull something out of your stash and give it a try, or purchase that one skein in a color you love.

This design is actually only a 2 row repeat, so it is pretty simple and relaxing to work. I would recommend that you place a stitch marker somewhere along row 1, to note it as the bottom edge. As the fabric is worked along and becomes squarer, it can be difficult to discern which way the rows are being worked.

The pattern is essentially creating the points of triangles in each even row, the closing it off to a straight edge every odd row, and when the pattern states to slip stitch in the knot, the knot is recognized as the most closed point of the stitch (where is was finished).

Gotta Love that Shawl

Materials:

  • One skein of any yarn, light weight preferred. The longer the yardage the longer the wrap
  • Hook size compatible for yarn weight

Gauge: Gauge is not critical for this project.

Special Stitches

Love Knot: See here

Abbreviations:

Rep=repeat

Sl st= slip stitch

Row 1: 18 Love knots, turn.

Row 2: Skip first knot, sl st in 2nd knot, [2 love knots, sl st in next knot] rep 15 times, turn.

Row 3: 2 love knots, sl st in next knot, [1 love knot, sl st in next knot] rep 15 times, turn.

Row 4: 2 love knots, sl st in next knot, [2 love knots, sl st in next knot} rep 15 times, turn.

Rep Rows 3 & 4 until desired length.

Last Row: Rep Row 3, fasten off. Weave in ends, block as desired.