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Author Archives: Kj Hay

  • Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 6: Abbreviations

    Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

    Cracking the (Pattern) Code: Abbreviations | Lion Brand NotebookThe extensive use of abbreviations can make knit and crochet patterns appear to be written in Klingon or Elvish rather than a human language. There are two sources of abbreviations used in pattern instructions; 1) Standard abbreviations, and 2) Special abbreviations.

    Standard Abbreviations

    The meaning of standard abbreviations and the unabbreviated forms are widely known and understood in the knit/crochet world. Accordingly, standard abbreviations are simply listed at the beginning or end of pattern instructions or in the reference section of magazines and books. Further explanation and illustration of such abbreviations can be found in any basic book about knit or crochet, or by searching the web. Examples of standard abbreviations include: st(s) = stitch(es), rep = repeat, RS = right side, and yo = yarn over.

    Editor's note: You can find abbreviations on LionBrand.com in our Learning Center, and when you click on the individual term, a brief explanation will open. Click here for the Abbreviations page.

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  • Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 5: Understanding Gauge

    Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

    Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 5: Understanding GaugeGauge is very important in all but the simplest designs. The gauge at which you work determines the finished size of the piece and the firmness of the fabric. If your gauge is off your afghan may barely cover a doll, or your slippers may fit the Jolly Green Giant quite comfortably. On the other hand, if your gauge is accurate but the yarn inappropriate for the gauge your sweater may be so firm you can’t lower your arms or so “holey” you could only wear it at home with the curtains drawn.

    Gauge is the measure of the number of stitches and rows worked to yield a piece of fabric of a specific size. Gauge is usually given in terms of the numbers of stitches and rows worked to yield a piece of fabric that is 4 x 4 in. (10 x 10 cm) square.

    If the size or drape of a finished project is important (and most of the time size and drape are important) take the time to check your gauge. To check your gauge, begin by using the size hook or needles listed. If more than one size of hook or needles is listed, the gauge statement should indicate which of the sizes is intended. Work a piece of fabric (known as a swatch) in the indicated pattern stitch that is at least 4 x 4 in. (10 x 10 cm) square or at least the size specified in the gauge statement, whichever is larger. Lay the piece flat without stretching or bunching it, place a ruler on the piece and count the number of stitches and number of rows over 4 in. (10 cm). Compare these numbers with the numbers in the gauge statement. If the number of stitches in 4 in. (10 cm) of your swatch is less than the number of stitches indicated by the gauge statement, you need to make another swatch using a smaller hook or needles. If the number of stitches in 4 in. (10 cm) of your swatch is more than the number of stitches indicated by the gauge statement, you need to try again using a larger hook or needles. Continue to make swatches using a larger or smaller hook or needles as needed until you achieve the gauge.

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  • Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 4: Selecting the Right Tools

    Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

    Hooks and Needles

    Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 4: Selecting the Right ToolsThe sizes of the hooks or needles listed in a pattern indicate the size used by the designer to achieve the listed gauge and to complete the item shown. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows worked in a piece fabric of a certain size. The hook or needle size helps determine the gauge and the gauge determines the size and drape of the fabric. Different knitters and crocheters, even when they use the exact same size hook, yarn, and pattern stitch, will often create fabric of different gauge. Accordingly, you may need to use different size hooks or needles to achieve the same results as the designer. Begin with the listed size, but check your results and be willing and prepared to change to a different size (see Gauge section below for more details).

    Hooks and needles of different types may also be indicated. Knitting needles come in straights of different lengths, circulars of different lengths, and double-pointed. Crochet hooks can be standard, Tunisian, or double-ended. Be sure that you have (or are willing to acquire) the skill needed to use specific hooks and needles, especially double pointed knitting needles or Tunisian or double-ended crochet hooks.

    Pro Tips

    The hook and needle sizes listed may or may not be the same as the recommended size listed on the yarn ball band. The recommended size listed on a ball band is a size needed for a fabric of average drape (or firmness) made from the most basic of pattern stitches (single crochet or Stockinette st). A specific project is likely to warrant a different drape and the use of pattern stitches other than the basics, thus needing a different size hook or needles.

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