Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Notes for basic caps to crochet, part 2

The caps are finished.  Got 3 caps, and they all fit me (medium, adult) just fine.  The yarn was 182 grams of KnitPicks Brava Sport, which comes in 100 gram balls of 273 yards each, according to the label.  I had a full ball and an almost-full ball.  I used a size G Boye hook, and the main stitch was half double crochet.

Doing the math:

1.82 x 273 yards = 496 yards for the 3 caps, or an average of 165 yards per cap.  The caps came out all about the same size.

What is interesting is that the Lion Brand chart of approximate yardage indicates that an adult cap should take 230 - 360 yards of sport/DK or worsted weight yarn to crochet an adult hat, or 225-275 yards to knit.  Way more yarn.  Hmm.

Nancy's Knit Knacks yarn yardage card suggests that a woman's knit hat would take 175 yards in sport or DK weight yarn, which is closer to what I got.

Clearly, Lion Brand wanted to err on the side of safety.

On to the next project!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Notes for basic caps to crochet

Today I’m wrapping up some caps for foster kids.  A woman visited the charity knitting group last week with a bag of yarn she was donating, along with a request for caps for foster kids in a camp where she helps out.  She was particularly interested in guy-colors for the caps, to end up with caps the kids would actually want to have and wear.  I like lighter-weight yarns, so I was happy to see the two balls of KnitPicks sport weight in a very sensible brown.  So I took those.  One was a full ball; the other, almost full.  Which got me thinking about cap patterns.

There are a lot of cap patterns out there, and many of us have our favorite go-to patterns, depending on the yarn and how much yarn there is.

When I know there is plenty of yarn for a cap, my favorite pattern is a side-to-side design:

Foundation sc about 1.5-2 inches, then foundation half double crochet (hdc) enough for a first row that measures 10 inches (for an adult size).  The pattern stitch is to stitch in rows of single crochet into the back loop only of the 1.5-2 inches of stitches on the one edge, and then hdc all the other stitches, until the piece measures 20 inches on the long edge.  The side with the single crochets will be shorter, so it makes almost a rectangle that is 10” wide, 20” long on the long edge, and shorter on the other edge.

Make a seam joining the last row to the first row (you can see the dip of the seam on the cap on the left of the picture, where the seam is).  Thread a yarn needle with about 12” of yarn, and use it to gather the single crochet edge and fasten it snugly.  I use a double strand and run the yarn through the edge twice, knot tightly, and tuck in the loose ends.  In this photo the ends haven’t been tucked in yet, but I’ll get there.

The average adult head seems to be about 22-24 inches around.  The 20” size for this hat means there is negative ease of 10-20% – which just means that the cap has to stretch a bit to fit, which is fine and as it ought to be.

There was enough yarn left over to start a second cap, using a top-down pattern I like when I’m not sure if there’s enough yarn:

Starting and round 1:  Ch3, slip stitch to make a ring.  Hdc 7 into the ring.
Round 2:  Continuing in a coil, hdc 2 into each of the 7 stitches.

If you can see your stitches, continue in a coil, making 2 hdc into the 2nd stitch of the increase in the previous round, until the piece measures 7 inches across.

If you don’t know how to see your stitches:  Mark the last stitch of each round, if needed to keep track.
Round 3:  (hdc1, hdc2 in next st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 4:  (hdc2, hdc2 in next st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 5:  (hdc 3, hdc2 in nest st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 6:  (hdc 4, hdc2 in nest st) 7 times – one time around.
Continue in this progression until the piece measures 7 inches across.

Depending on your gauge and yarn, the piece may lie flat, or it may cup a bit – either way is fine.  If you want it to lie flat, increase 9 times per round instead of 7.  Since I don’t know if I will have enough yarn, I figure this is one place I can skimp and still have the cap fit just fine.  Since the cap is for someone who isn’t a full adult size (early teens), having it a bit on the smaller size should still work well.

Once the crown is 7 inches across, stop increasing.  Continue stitching in hdc in a coil until the cap measures at least 8 inches from the center.  If I have more yarn, I will make it longer so it can fold up.

Top down cap, with ears and flaps added
I didn’t specify yarn or hook or gauge for any of this because these are basic concepts that work with just about any yarn.  The kitten hat in this picture is the top-down pattern done with a super bulky yarn and a size N or so hook.  The thicker the yarn, the thicker the fabric.

About sizes:  for the adult size given here, 7” across for the crown should be good.  For a child size, 6” works.  For a baby, 5”.  Anything bigger can work for a tea cozy.

Half double crochet is great for caps:  It makes a thicker, cushier fabric than single crochet, and it doesn’t have the bigger gaps between stitches of double crochet.  It also works well with textured yarns, where you can’t always see your stitches, but my fingers can feel where the hook goes more easily than with single crochet.  It’s a handy stitch that way.

A third cap I like is the tam-style:  Make a flat round that measures 12 inches across.  Then decrease as needed for a band to fit around the head.  It occurred to me recently that if the decreases are space evenly around, you end up with a tam or beret, depending on the country of choice and how wide you make the band.  However, if the decreases are all on one half of the circle, with the other half stitched even (without decreases), the shape is the golf cap.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Afghan Edging

I've made a twin size granny square blanket for each of my kids, and I'm currently finishing the blanket for my third son. This time, I did the border a little differently than I have in the past.

Practical Crocheter once wrote a post about granny squares.  As motifs,  these squares are interesting because they have too many increases per round to lie flat as squares.  That means that, beyond a certain number of rounds, granny squares torque and then ruffle. The ruffling effect is mitigated when we make lots of squares and join them together, but it is not entirely negated.  And that is why granny square blankets often do not lie flat and don't fold neatly.

The seams that join granny squares also create stress points in the fabric.  The chain-3 loops at the corners are fairly weak, relative to the rest of the fabric, and these corners are where seams are most likely to come undone, in part because those loops move around and pull on the joins more than other places do.  Around the perimeter of the blanket, the pulling of these chain-3 loops also pulls on the stitches in the border, since the border stitches straddle the seam.

Since I am finishing a granny square afghan now, I decided to experiment and see if I could do something about both issues.  Normally, when working my way around an afghan, I would handle two joined chain-3 loops by putting two stitches in each chain-3 loop, but none in the seam itself.  This time, I put one stitch in each loop and a decrease (in this case a dc2tog decrease) over the seam, with one half of the decrease on one side of it and the other half in the other side.

Since this blanket hasn't been used yet, I don't have any evidence that my experiment will reinforce the stress points around the perimeter. I suspect it will, since there is now a stitch directly over each join, and that stitch is more substantial than a normal double crochet.

As for the other issue, this afghan lies flat.  It is not perfectly rectangular, but it does not ruffle at all when I spread it out on the floor.