Gauge and all

We're working on the Ocean Pearls Cardigan over at the Crochet-Along. Come join us!

Here's what I've learned from swatching for this sweater.

Here we have a mess o' swatches.

At upper left is Misti Alpaca Handpaint Baby Suri Silk. in Marino. It is far lovelier than it looks here. It's a dream to work with, but IMHO not a dream to look at in this pattern. The hand-paint looks pretty blotchy. It did give me the idea that I want to work with a hand-paint, but one with less color going on. At upper right is KnitPicks Shine Sport. Love this! And: It has Perfect Gauge. But I was already bitten by the color-change bug. (I will be using Shine Sport in Sky to make the Ocean Pearls Cardigan out of  for my daughter—cropped & with short sleeves.)

At the lower left is Ester Bitran Linares in 501. When I saw this yarn in my LYS, I knew it would be just lovely. And it is.

I worked one swatch with a G / 4 mm hook, as suggested in pattern. Then I worked one with a 7 / 4.25 mm hook. (btw, be sure to read my blog about the recommended type of hook.) When I worked up the swatches, I really thought I would be working the sweater with the 7 hook. It just felt right.

But then I did the thing you must do with swatches: Block them.

I put the squares on the ironing board and blasted them with steam from the iron. Then I smoothed them out and let them dry. (For a really thorough and useful expose on the methods of blocking, check out Lily Chin's Crochet Tips and Techniques pub by Potter Craft. This new, Flamie-Award-winning book really should find a home on your shelf.)

When I blocked the Linares swatches, the fabric really opened up:

The swatch done with the 7 hook (on the right) was way more open than it should be. Floppy fabric. Not good.

So I focused on the G swatch. My gauge tool showed me that I had 16 st / 4 inches, or about 4 st / inch. The pattern calls for 19 st / 4 inches or 4.75 st / inch.

If I made the sweater according to the pattern, it would be too big. How much too big? I did a little math, dividing the number of stitches by my gauge, and found that it would be two sizes too big. I divided the number of stitches for two sizes down by my gauge and came up with the right number of inches. So I worked the number of stitches for two sizes down and lined it up with a favorite sweater than I wear a lot:

And this looks just right.

So I'll be following the pattern for two sizes smaller than I thought I'd make. Because this is a really unscientific method, I'll be measuring a lot as I go along, holding the pieces up to this well-loved sweater to keep my crochet in check, especially as I move into shaping.

(And, because I know you want to know: Yes, that sweater is knitted. It is the February Lady Sweater. If you dabble in knitting sports, it is a lot of fun to make. The yarn is Reynolds Odyssey)

Let us know how your crocheting is coming along!



Other topics you may enjoy:


Shaping, Fit, and Blocking, Yarn Info and Tips

2 thoughts on “Gauge and all

  1. Thanks, again, Marcy. Checking the measurements on my favorite sweater gives me some confidence that I chose the right size to crochet.
    I’ve only crocheted a few rows on the back. Would you still recommend blocking my swatch?

  2. Hey there!
    Yes, stop all activity on the back and block that swatch. You need to know how that yarn behaves. As I noted above, my yarn really opened up and it would have been way too big if I’d used the larger hook. Your yarn may behave itself nicely, but you want to know now, not when you finish.
    It won’t take long — blast of steam, even out the edges, let it dry, then measure.
    Let me know how it works out!