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Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Let's Get Going!

Spring is in the air here in NYC and I’m already dreaming of trips to the beach--you must be too since the Beach Cardi won in the vote! I’m so excited to be hosting this crochet-along and ready to get started – so let’s talk planning, including yarn choices and swatching.

Based on the pattern sizing, I’m going to make the medium (also called S/M), which has a finished chest measurement of 38.5 inches. When choosing a size, pay attention to phrases such as "finished measurements"--this means the measurement of the garment itself, not of you! For me, I will have a couple of inches of ease (i.e. wiggle room) at this size because the finished measurement is a couple of inches larger than my actual measurement.

To determine your size, it can help to use a flexible tape measure: You can use it to take your own measurement, but you can also size it to garment’s finished measurement, and see how much ease you will have. Another great way to pick a size is to measure a similar garment you already own.

Yarn Selection
The pattern calls for Nature's Choice Organic Cotton, which I’m going to use in the Olive color way. I love this sort of yellow-green color and it seems to be very popular this year. Nature's Choice is a single ply cotton wrapped with a thin thread, giving it a very plush look, but it also needs a little more delicate care than other cottons, as it requires hand washing. If this isn't the yarn for you, don't worry--there are plenty of other substitutes!

Nature's Choice is considered a worsted-weight yarn, so any other worsted (medium or category 4) yarn would do. Being a summer project, I suggest other cottons, such as Cotton-Ease, Recycled Cotton or Lion Cotton. All three are machine washable and create a little lighter fabric than Nature’s Choice. If you have never worked with it, Cotton-Ease is an excellent yarn: the cotton-acrylic blend makes it very smooth and adds a little more stretch than other cotton yarns. The Recycled Cotton has a multi-colored ply that gives it a heathered appearance, which could be a really great look for this cover-up, and Lion Cotton has a huge range of color options. Alternatively, any other worsted-weight yarn could work, such as Vanna’s Choice or Wool-Ease if you are looking for a warmer option.  When substituting, be sure to take the number of yards-per-ball of each yarn into account in order to calculate how many will be needed for the size you are making.

The Swatch
While sometimes we all want to skip this step, checking your gauge is super important. I personally like swatching because I feel like it’s the first chance to see what you are going to be working with--how the yarn and stitch pattern look together and how you like working with it. Plus, it's a great feeling to start a project knowing that you are on your way to a successful fit because you know your gauge is spot on!

I like to make my swatches larger than the four-by-four square so you can accurately measure across four inches in multiple places to get a truly accurate gauge. It’s a good idea to treat your finished swatch how you plan to treat your garment; this means washing and blocking it exactly as you will treat your finished piece. This is of particular importance when substituting yarns since some yarns, such as Recycled Cotton, "bloom" (i.e. expand) when washed which will change your count. I soaked the swatch in a mixture of water and my preferred fiber wash, according to directions on the bottle, then pinned it out to dry, just like I will do for blocking the cover-up.

Now measuring is just a matter of careful counting. In this garment, stitch gauge is more important that row gauge because the pattern is worked in inch instructions more so than numbered rows. This means you can work as many or as few rows as you need to get to the proper length, but the stitch gauge determines the measurement around and that’s where the fit comes from. For me, I was able to attain the gauge of 11 hdc + 8 rows on a size I-9 hook.

So pick your yarn and get those swatches going! Next week we’ll be starting the front and back pieces, then joining them to start creating the majority of the cover-up. I'll be going over the no-chain foundation and more, so look out for that!

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