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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Gauge Swatch Time!

Welcome to the Raglan Mesh Cardigan Crochet-Along (CAL)! As an over-view, here's what you can expect in the upcoming blog posts, which go up every Thursday:

  • This week: Gauge!
  • 7/14: Starting chain and raglan increases
  • 7/21: Underarms and Body
  • 7/28: Sleeves
  • 8/4: Finishing and blocking - sweater is done!

Some people will work a little ahead of this, and others a little slower, but remember to check the blog each week for help in these different sections (and remember that the blog posts will remain online). Read the comments below and participate in the discussion for even more help. From the many comments in the last week I can tell that you are all as excited as I am to get started on this project, so let's get to it--onto the the swatch!

As you may know, the intended idea behind doing a gauge swatch is to find out if your working tension is giving you the same gauge as the pattern is written to--this is how you will know if your finished item will turn out to the intended measurements. If your gauge is fewer stitches per inch than the pattern, your gauge is too loose and you need to try another swatch with a smaller hook to tighten it up. If your gauge is more stitches per inch, your gauge is too tight and you need to try a larger hook to make it looser.

But your swatch tells you so much more than that! It is your first chance to try the yarn you have chosen for your project with the pattern stitch and see if you are happy with the resulting fabric. This is especially important when you are substituting yarns. If you have chosen a yarn that is a different fiber than the original, it may not produce the same affect, which can be good or bad. You may also find that although you are able to get the pattern gauge, you may not like how the resulting fabric looks at that gauge and might have to use a different yarn.

Another useful purpose of a swatch is to see how it changes when washed. Wash your swatch according to the care instructions of your yarn to know how it will respond, as some fibers may fluff up or stretch after washing. You may also find the gauge or feel of the fiber changes with washing as well, which I'll get into shortly.

Now let's talk about how to swatch. The pattern states that the gauge is 18 stitches and 7 rows is 4" x 4" IN PATTERN. This means in the same stitch as the body of the pattern, which in this case is a mesh stitch worked as "dc in next dc, ch 1, skip next ch-1 sp, rep." I know the V-stitch is highlighted in the notes of the pattern, but it merely used for increasing as we'll see as we work through the yoke next week.

I always create a swatch that has more stitches than the intended four inches so that I have plenty to measure over. This gives me a more accurate idea of my gauge. In this case I used an H hook and created a chain of 30, worked my first double crochet in the 6th chain from the hook (5 chains skipped = one base chain + three for the turning chain + a chain-1 space), then worked across the chain by skipping 1 ch, dc, ch 1, repeat across. I also work more rows than the intended gauge, so I stopped after 10 rows. Nice big swatch to measure!

Next I washed the swatch because I'm going to want to get the finished sweater wet too for washing and I don't want any surprises! I soaked it on the sink for 10-15 minutes, gently squeezed out the excess water and laid it out flat to dry. Once it was completely dry, I was ready to measure.

Now how do you measure? Again since our pattern is "dc, ch1" each of those parts counts as their own stitch. This means I lay out my swatch and place a ruler on it, lining it up with the edge of one stitch then counting each double crochet and chain one across until I have counted 4 inches worth of stitches.

H Hook Swatch

Looks to me like 15.5 sts over 4 inches. Uh oh, too loose :( Time to try again with a smaller hook - a G hook in this case.

G Hook Swatch

This one is just about 18 stitches over 4 inches. Great, G hook it is! I know sometimes it's hard to know which hook to use, especially if your gauge is a little too tight with one hook and a little too loose with another. Just from personal experience with other garments, I've found that it's much easier to make something bigger with blocking than smaller, and also that crochet fabric is more likely to stretch a little than it is to shrink over time, so unless it's really tight, I'd suggest the smaller hook.

Editor's note: Some people may find that their gauge will also change with different types of hooks (metal, wood, plastic), since these provide a different amount of "grip" against different fibers. So if you're in between hooks, you may want to try a hook of a different material to see if that makes a difference.

I know I've focused on stitch gauge, but what about row gauge? Measuring in a similar manner by placing the ruler lined up with the bottom of one row and counting up over 4 inches, I found that I achieved roughly 7 rows over 4 inches with the H hook and 8.5 rows over 4 inches with the G hook, but I need the G hook to achieve the stitch gauge. Bummer!

Luckily with most garments, stitch gauge is much more important to achieve because that gives the width of the sweater, which is much harder to change, but if my garment needs more rows to get the correct length in the end, that's OK and easy to adjust! Again, we'll talk pattern modifications in upcoming posts, but if you can only get the stitch OR the row gauge (very common!), go with the hook that gets you the correct stitch gauge.

As an aside, this sweater is made from the top down in one piece which is incredibly helpful because you can try it on as you go! More on that next week as we finally jump into starting the sweater! For now, work on your swatch (or swatches!), and next week I'll be showing you how to get this sweater going. See you then!

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  • Ellyn

    Did anyone else have a terrible time finding the Recycled Cotton in stores? I know I could have ordered it, but I waited until this week in order to use my coupons with Michaels or Hobby Lobby or Joannes. Turns out none of them carry the recycled cotton, or any of the substitutes mentioned. I hate to admit this on the Lion Brand blog.. but I will be using "I Love This Cotton" in dark denim. It's all cotton, so we shall see how that turns out!
    Still very excited. I love Lion Brand yarn, but I guess I'll have to buy more of it online in the future - seems to be fewer and fewer of the lines I like in stores lately.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1127797094 Jean Michael

    Okay, I did my first row of my gauge swatch and got to the end and don't know how to turn. I got to the end, did a dc, chained 1 and now I know I have to chain to turn but how many? And then once I turn, where do I start? Can you tell I have never done a gauge swatch?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1654022228 Sarah Sarina Reiss

    A new Joann store opened in Paramus NJ and I was there today and did not see Recycled there either.  The only Lion Brand that I saw and caught my eye was the Vanna that was it.  Now they were still stocking the shelves and they said that the color set-up is going to be like a rainbow (?).  I think Recycled Cotton is more on the level of LYS type of yarn not the chain type. 

  • Linda

    I did find the Recycled Cotton yarn at A.C. Moore in Sunshine.  I'm almost finished the sweater.  It is really easy, although I had to use a size F hook to match the gauge.  I'm making the small which fits but could be a little larger.  I will make this pattern again.  Next time I'll make the small to start, but add one more row before marking off for the sleeves.  I also will probably add the chains for the medium instead of the small so that there is a little more give in the body.  I loved working from the top down and may use this pattern with other stitches for a different look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1127797094 Jean Michael

    I have now completed the gauge swatch and it was great so started the yoke and am on round 4.

  • http://www.restlessgrace.blogspot.com Grace

    Don't forget to WASH and DRY your cotton swwatches!!! I knit a sweater with recycled cotton and it did shrink after the first wash. Luckily it still fits, but when I swatch for this project I will definitely wash my swatch. Consider yourself warned! :)

  • CatalpaKay

    Thanks for the tips Kendra.  I'm going with the F hook.  It's right for the stitches but too small for the rows.  I'll be looking at your tips on how to adjust for that. 

  • CatalpaKay

    Thanks for the tips Kendra.  I'm going with the F hook.  It's right for the stitches but too small for the rows.  I'll be looking at your tips on how to adjust for that. 

  • Debbie

    Finished my guage swatch and started on the yoke. I am trying to work it in the round rather than the alternate round 1 in the notes. As carefull as I was I still ended up with a twist in my chain. Going to try working the first row in the round once more and then will try the alternate method.
    Any tips on not getting a twist in my chain?

  • Mnau

    Hi Kendra.  I'm looking forward to my first CAL.  Could not find the recycled cotton locally, so ordered it from LBY yesterday.  Hopefully will be able to work on my swatch next week.  The pattern looks great, I will probably want to add a few rows to the arm length.  May need some advice on increasing the rows, yet tapering the sleeve width. 

  • Jan >^..^<

    Kendra,

    Great article!  I never heard to wash the swatch before measuring but it makes so much sense!

    I admit I never do swatches - but I have also ended up regretting it.  SO ... I am going to go work on my swatch right now.  REALLY!  I promise!  :P

    I also think I might print out the articles and save them for easy referring back to when I want to.

  • Jan >^..^<

    Kendra,

    Great article!  I never heard to wash the swatch before measuring but it makes so much sense!

    I admit I never do swatches - but I have also ended up regretting it.  SO ... I am going to go work on my swatch right now.  REALLY!  I promise!  :P

    I also think I might print out the articles and save them for easy referring back to when I want to.

  • Jan >^..^<

    Kendra,

    Great article!  I never heard to wash the swatch before measuring but it makes so much sense!

    I admit I never do swatches - but I have also ended up regretting it.  SO ... I am going to go work on my swatch right now.  REALLY!  I promise!  :P

    I also think I might print out the articles and save them for easy referring back to when I want to.

  • Jan >^..^<

    Kendra,

    Great article!  I never heard to wash the swatch before measuring but it makes so much sense!

    I admit I never do swatches - but I have also ended up regretting it.  SO ... I am going to go work on my swatch right now.  REALLY!  I promise!  :P

    I also think I might print out the articles and save them for easy referring back to when I want to.

  • ronih

    OK.  Going to use Cotton Ease ... G hook.  Although the 'swatch' worked better with an F hook.. after washing it.  I see the difference.   I want to make it longer... so hoping that adjustment comes into play later but too late.   

  • ronih

    OK.  Going to use Cotton Ease ... G hook.  Although the 'swatch' worked better with an F hook.. after washing it.  I see the difference.   I want to make it longer... so hoping that adjustment comes into play later but too late.   

  • ronih

    not too much later.

  • ronih

    not too much later.

  • Fillyfiber

    Hi Kendra,

    I am not sure which color/yarn I will use yet.  I want to do a top for one of the skrits in my closet. I will do my swatch today.  I crochet lose so I will probably us a g hook because I know I will us size 4 cotton on the top.  I think I will do the yoke starting in rows...life's shot make it as stree free as posible. 

    Yvette from Philly

  • Evie T

    This top was a pattern I've wanted to try, also.  I still have my Beach Cardigan CAL from last year to finish but I did complete the Pearl's Cardigan CAL.  The finished item was a bit too small so gave it to my sister-in-law.   I have a couple of skeins of Cotton-Ease in the "Stone" (gray) color so enough to get started!  I have been printing out the instructions from each week's blog for each CAL and keep them in a folder, have found that to be helpful.

  • Jan >^..^<

    Oh crud!  I got busy and haven't done the swatch yet!  Plus I'm putting it off.

    OK, OK!  I'm going!  I just have to go put my sourdough bread dough in the bread pans to rise so I can bake it in the morning.  YUUUMMMY!  Then I'll do the swatch. 

    I really mean it this time!  I think ...........

  • Slrweimer

    I'm using Berrocco Weekend, a cotton acrylic blend - did my swatch, the stitch guage was correct using the H hook, but the row gauge was a bit off.  I'm on the 6th row.

  • Pat

    I'm thinking quite a few people had to order their yarn - my order is still "pending" which makes me think they're VERY busy, or short on that yarn/color.  I just hope it gets here before next week's post.

  • Jan >^..^<

    Yes!  Did my swatch!  I used an H hook and got the right stitch gauge.  I ended up with 8 rows instead of 7 in 4", but I am petite so that will help and I can adjust the length as I go - I hope ....

    I haven't washed it, though.  I figure it's acrylic so it shouldn't shrink .....

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6RAYQGJKMLSONRCYVMO57FKRBU Patty

    Wow, how old is that ruler in the photos?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1127797094 Jean Michael

    So I have started the yoke and am doing it in the round. I didn't have much trouble not twisting my chain, I just ran my fingers down it as I held it up in the air and then grabbed it when I got to the end and it wasn't twisted. But I have 5 rows of the yoke done and it is almost like a large square doughnut, did I do something wrong or is it supposed to be almost square?

  • Pat

    Well, I swatched - it was virtually perfect - not quite 18 stitches over 4 inches, and right at 7 rows.  Then I washed and dried it - even blocking it out  nice and wide: 16.5 stitches over 4 inches.  G hook, here I come.

    For those who were curious - yeah, looks like Recycled Cotton does shrink a little, even in cold water.

  • Gaduval1

    To my delight I received my yarn from LB on Friday and have been swatching ever since (not so much to my delight). I tried F (too small); I tried H (maybe a bit too big) - G might be better.... Much to my dismay (though I have the packaging for three of them), I could not for the life of me find a single G hook in the house! Soooo, off to Michael's. Decisions, decisions, decisions - Exotic Rosewood, Ergo soft touch, aluminum - so I bought the Exotic Rosewood and the Ergo. The Rosewood worked up approx. the same as the ergo soft touch F, had worked up (so sad, but I will return it). So I tried (4th or 5th swatch now), a different H hook (I have aluminum and ergo); the ergo is giving me just ever so slightly over the stitch guage, with a whole extra row, on the row gauge. So, though this may work fine once washed and blocked, I think I will try the exotic rosewood (haha I love the exotic part) in an H to see if I get closer on the row gauge. 

    Because I washed and sun-dried one of the swatches, I overlap folded it and stitched up the sides to get a cute little pursette to go in my tablet clutch..... waste not, what not....

    So off to Michael's and back to swatching I go!

  • Gaduval1

    So, my quest for the perfect needle continued through the day, today. I returned the exotic rosewood needle, size G and purchased one in size H. After walking about 4.5 miles to make the swap, I had the H hook in hand. Leave it to say that the expensive, exotic rosewood needle is slated for yet another return (I'll drive the next time).st, I tried the Ergo G - too small, then I went with the aluminum standard style H, a touch too big. Then, I worked up the swatch in the ergo H and though it's not perfect, the swatch came out as 17 stitches over 4" and 8 rows over 4, unwashed and unblocked. So it seems that is as close as I'm going to get. I will wash it mow and then remeasure... Unwashed swatch is attached, I will post with the changes...

  • Gaduval1

    Stitch guage:

  • Gaduval1

    Row guage:

  • CatalpaKay

    I'm on round 8 (of 10 for medium), and I'm thinking because I'm using an F hook for the stitch guage, it's not going to be the right length.  Will it be too small around the arms?   I'm afraid to go over 10 rows because I'll end up with too many stitches when I switch to do the body.  Hopefully Kendra will address on Thursday.  I think I'll wait, because I may have to rip it all out.

  • Tandi Hartle

    I hate to admit that this was my first gauge swatch,  Yes I've made plenty of sweaters without doing a gauge swatch but I am now a convert :-D    My gauge was right on so I've already finished the first 9 rows of the pattern, I'm so excited to see how it turns out. 

  • Donna

    So I made two swatches. The first with H hook only had 17 across and 8 rows... then                           I made one with G hook and got 18 stitches but somehow I still get 8 rows? I guess I should go with the G hook but will it be okay with an extra row?

  • Jeanette

    Ok, since I am on a very limited budget, I used my birthday wish to get yarn from an online discount shop. I still wanted to be as natural as possible but did not really want 100% cotton. I chose aMAIZing a 100% corn fiber yarn from SWTC. It feels a touch softer than cotton but works like a ribbon yarn. It feels like you are using strips of thin t-shirt material.

    I did do a swatch test... But did it wrong as I did not understand the in pattern part so had just don double crochets. I will now do a new one and will wash it before measuring. That's one nice thing about this corn yarn, it's machine washable.

  • Jan >^..^<

    I'm working on the market bag until Thursday!  It's a lot of fun!  Try it!!  I started it last night and should be finished today or tomorrow ...

  • Chelsea

    I knew this was too easy! I started working on the yoke without making a gauge swatch. No bueno! I read this and decided I better make a gauge swatch and I'm glad I did. I've got to use a G hook instead of the H too. Better safe then sorry :)

  • Deb4745

    Did my swatch with G hook because the H ended up to big.  But after I washed the swatch, it shrunk.  Wondering if I should use the H hook so it will be the right size in the end or if I should make 1 size larger.

  • Nanamagyk

    I was surprised to discover the difference between one worsted 4 weight and another brand!  I started this project with 100% cotton worsted then of course found the recycled Lion Brand later.  So I splurged and bought enough of LB's brand and have almost finished the yoke but what a difference.  I had to use an F hook for the 100% and a G for the LB recycled to get the same gauge.  But even with the same gauge they look different.  The 100% cotton is heavier and bulkier looking by far but stitch by row comes out the same.  This sure has taught me to do the swatch!

  • dinak

    I have the yoke almost completed - using Sugar & Cream cotton in an ombre with green, blue & white.  Size is going well - tried on the part that is finished and dh says it fits very well (actually a little large, but that's a good thing!).

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/07/14/mesh-raglan-pullover-crochet-along-starting-chain-and-raglan-increases/ Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Starting Chain & Raglan Increases | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Gauge Swatch Time! [...]

  • Janice Eagan

    Got my recycled yarn at JoAnns in the blue. Lucky me, I got the last 4 skeins in all the same dye lot! It cost me almost $20. I'm making the medium size but wanted the extra skein just in case. I prefer to purchase yarns that I haven't previously worked with in person otherwise I would have ordered online. On a side note...One of the reasons I voted for one of the other tops and not this one was that the top I liked was only $12 in yarn and was obvious I would need a camisole to wear under. But at least this pullover is not as hefty as the $75 top that was up for voting. Whew!

    I excitedly finished my swatch(es) today after 3 tries. I've never done a swatch before so, Thank you, Thank you Kendra for posting pictures/instructions. Originally, I was way too loose with the H hook (5mm) so dropped 2 hooks down to the 4mm only to figure out I was reading my ruler incorrectly and really needed to go up to the 5.5mm because my tension is on the tight side. Duh! Oddly, my rows are more than what I thought my tension would give me. I think that I've got exactly 18 stitches with 8 rows in a 4x4. Not sure how this will affect my sweater. I'm going to go ahead and read the next blog installment before starting my chain and ask questions later.

  • Debby Telfer

    I too could not find the recycled cotton in any stores close to home so purchased Caron - Simply Soft Paints that was a 4 weight.  I was delighted to see it crochets very nice and my swatch turned out perfect width and height using an "H" hook.  This is was the size recommended on the yarn too.  Color was multi-color (tapestry).  I have crocheted all of the yoke rows and really like the look and feel (similar to some other cottons I have used).

  • Cherylr56

    I looked at four stores, then ordered online. Glad I didn't substitute since this yarn seems thinner than cotton yarn. I see several posts saying that the recycled yarn shrinks, even in cool water. I did a swatch, but didn't see the tip to wash it til I'd already ripped it back out. Since I'm already working on two projects at home, I'm going to work on this at work, using 30 min of my lunch hour. I'm using the dark blue and have four rows of the yoke done. I'm just going to make it a bit big to allow for shrinkage. I broke down and bought stitch markers, which are easier to use than diaper pins, which I always used when my kids were little!

  • Sharon Richey

    I'm rather new to crocheting and I was wondering - if you're working in the round, why do you chain 4 & turn?  Why don't you just keep going around?

  • Tobborah

    I am late to the CAL, but had a question about the gauge. I have done gauges before, but when I was following along and counting the number of stitches, I can not get the same number as that posted. I want to be sure I know how to count my gauge before I start. Any help?

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  • mlp722

    I realize this is an old CAL, but I found the pattern on the lion brand website and have been trying to get the project started. However, I'm having problems with the swatch. I read above that Kendra started with a chain of 30....I just tried that and there aren't enough chains to make the 18 sts that the swatch requires if I am counting the pattern stitches the way she explains. Also, looking at the pictures of her using the ruler to count gauge, I don't understand how she's getting the counts that she is getting. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I tried a longer chain to get in the correct number of stitches, but then my swatch is way more than 4 inches...I can't seem to get 18sts into 4 inches. I usually don't have difficulty like this with gauge.