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Monthly Archives: July 2011

  • What Size Sweater/Top/Dress Should I Knit or Crochet?

    When it comes to scarves, blankets, and even hats, sizing is pretty straightforward. But when you're ready for your first sweater, things get a little more complicated. You see, there are really two sets of sizing on lots of sweaters: S, M, L, etc. and then there are the actual measurements.

    The first type is not very useful. It will tell you what range of sizes an item comes in (e.g., a sweater that comes in XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL has a range of six sizes, while a sweater that comes in S, M, L only has a range of three sizes), which can give you some clues about fit and patterning but these sizes really shouldn't be used to determine which size you're going to make.

    What gets confusing is that S, M, L, etc. are relative sizes, so you can have one sweater with a small that's got a finished measurement of 32" and another with a finished measurement of 46". All that means is that it is the "small" of the range of sizes offered for that particular sweater.

    What's really important are the actual finished measurements, generally given as a chest or bust measurement (I'll talk more about this in a minute). Note that unlike sewing patterns, knit and crochet patterns give actual measurements and do not include ease. So if you want your sweater to be a big boxy cardigan, you probably want to choose one with a finished measurement 4-6" larger than your body measurements (positive ease). Looking for a figure-hugging glam-girl sweater? Choose a measurement that's 2-4" smaller than your body measurements (this is called negative ease).

    When we talk about "bust" or "chest" measurement, that's because for many people, that's the part of the body with the largest measurement. If this is not true for you -- say your hips are wider than your bust and you're making a tunic length sweater -- you should consider that when choosing which size to make.

    Remember that when you're making a sweater, you're going to be putting a lot of time and care into crafting your garment, and you want it to be just right. It's not like grabbing a sweater off the shelf...you want to carefully consider which size will be perfect for you (or the lucky recipient of your hard work!).

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  • How to Use Stitch Markers

    Stitch markers are essential tools to crocheters and knitters alike. They can be used to mark a certain number of stitches, the beginning of a round, where to make a particular stitch, and more. Patterns often call for stitch markers with the abbreviations "pm" (place marker) and "sm" (slip marker). It's important to note that there are essentially two categories of stitch markers: closed and open (also known as split-ring).

    As the name implies, closed stitch markers feature one solid loop. They come in a wide variety of styles, including simple plastic rings and more complex charms. Here are a few examples:

    Closed Stitch Markers

    While knitting, the stitch marker sits on the needle between active stitches. To start using a closed marker, simply knit to where you want the marker, then place it on your right needle. Continue to knit as normal. Keep in mind that the marker can only be adjusted when you reach it in the row. When you reach the marker, simply slip it from the left needle to the right (as you would slip a stitch) to keep the marker in the same position.

    Closed Stitch Marker while Knitting

    Closed stitch markers do not work with most crocheting techniques. This is because crocheting closes stitches instead of leaving them live. Thus, if you used a closed stitch marker, it would be crocheted into your work. The only ways to remove the marker would be to rip out your stitches or cut your work (yikes!).

    Open or split-ring markers are incredibly versatile. Because they aren't closed, they can be added, removed, or adjusted at any time, regardless of which stitch you're on. They come in a variety of different styles, including rings with a small gap, locking, or lever-backed.

    Open Stitch Markers

    When knitting, these markers can be used on the needle (as with closed markers) or attached to particular stitches.

    Open Stitch Marker while Knitting

    Because they can be removed at any time, open stitch markers are perfect for attaching to crochet stitches.

    Open Stitch Marker while Crocheting

    Those are the basics to selecting and using stitch markers! If you find yourself in a pinch and don't have a stitch marker handy, try using a tie of yarn (for closed stitch markers) or a paperclip (for open stitch markers).

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  • Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Underarm Chains

    Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! So I spent some time ripping out the yoke and reworking it with the larger H hook and it worked out well - I got the length I needed to reach the armholes. It definitely made the yoke larger overall, but with the neck tie, it still works well, and it gave me a little extra room in the bust and slightly looser sleeves.  Now that I've got my yoke in order it's time to move on to making room for the underarms and working through the body. So let's get to it!

    When you have completed your yoke you finish it off completely by cutting the yarn, then you reconnect the yarn to create chain spaces at the underarms. Before you start, be sure to read all of the notes for the section! Here they are again:

    1. In next section, you are making a ch that spans the underarm and will be used on the Next Rnd of the Body and Sleeves.
    2. Stitch markers are placed at beg and end of the underarm ch to indicate where Sleeve sts will be worked later.

    By reading the notes you will get a better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish in the next section, as well as any other bits of information to make the next part a success. This chain gives you some extra stitches to reach from front to back under your arms to work both the body and sleeves off of. Setting up the armholes may sound complicated, but it is just a matter of getting your hook into the right stitches. As written in the pattern:

    Join yarn with sl st in last dc of V-st at beg of one Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc as sl st join, ch 1 (3, 5, 7, 9), sk the Sleeve sts, sl st in first dc of V-st at end of same Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc. Fasten off. Rep for other underarm.

    So what does this look like? Remember those "corners" we created in the yoke? Focus on two that are on either side of a sleeve section (the shorter of the four sides). Find the V-stitch of the corner to the right of the sleeve (or left of the sleeve if you are left handed). Got it? Now insert your hook into the  leftmost double crochet of the V-stitch (rightmost double crochet if left handed) and join your yarn there. Now create your chain and join back into the rightmost double crochet of the V-stitch (leftmost if left handed) on the other side of the sleeve opening. Joined! It should looks something like this (with stitch markers placed in the same stitches as the joins):

    Now to work the body by using those new chains. Here the notes are also super important:

    1. Work next rnd with RS facing for sizes S, L and 2X. Work next rnd with WS facing for sizes M and 1X.
    2. The first rnd of Body is worked over the Back and Front sts and the underarm chs.
    3. The marked dc at beg and end of the underarm chs are part of the Sleeve sts, and are not counted as sts when working the Body.

    Although the result it subtle, if you don't start working as directed in #1 (the right side or wrong side) your stitches in this row will look slightly different than the rest of the rows. How do I know? Because I just started going and noticed after a few stitches that it wasn't lining up quite like the rest of the rows...then I saw the note about joining from the wrong side if you are making the medium. Make your life easier and check all notes carefully before proceeding! For future reference I marked the right side (RS) of my project with a clip-on stitch marker so I don't have to analyze it each time I need to know one side from the other:

    Stitch marker

    This time you will join your yarn and work your ch 4 in the other double crochet of the V-stitch you used for one of your underarm chains. I chose to use the side that would put the join of my rounds on the back of the sweater instead of the front, because the joins always look just slightly different than the rest of the sweater and I'd rather hide that in the back. Once you work across the chain (skipping over both of the marked double crochets at the start and end of each underarm where the chains are attached) and across the body, it should look something like this:

    Now you're set to work round after round around the body, trying it on as you go until you get a length you like. If you are planning to put a tie at the bottom of your pullover as shown in the pattern, make your bottom tie ahead of time (as we did with the neck tie) so when you think you have the length you like, you know what it will look like when done. In case you are having any doubts about joining your rounds each time (maybe adding or losing stitches), the joins are the end of each round should progress something like this (click on each image to zoom):

    Ready to go on the next round! Alright, I'm going to keep working through the body of my sweater, trying it on as I go to get the length I want, and next week we'll be on to the sleeves. Enjoy!

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