Designing everyday garments to crochet

Here are posts related to crocheting real everyday garments:


Manipulating Increase Lines

Single increase on each
side of a center point
Single increases
centered over
several rows
Increases stack over each other to create a visual seam line.  When increasing only one stitch, you can increase in the first stitch of the increase in the previous row (see picture on left) - so from one row to the next the increases balance out to create a line over several rows.  The reason that top-down sweaters tend to be raglans is that the increases are centered over each other, like corners on a motif.  Often there is a point (see picture to right), and the stitcher increases one stitch on each side of that point stitch, with the increased stitches get added to its own side.  The effect at that whole increase point is to add 2 stitches.

Another option is to make a double increase in the point stitch.  That visual line can be manipulated:  Increases don't have to be centered over each other.
Double increase
centered over each other
Increase to the sleeve for 3 rows,
then to the front for 4 rows - we
don't know which way the increase
at the top of the picture goes.

To manipulate the visual line, the increases still have to line up over each other, somehow -- just not centered.  In the next increase row, choose whether to increase in the first stitch, or in the last stitch, of the previous increase point.  That way, the increases from the previous increase get allocated to one side or the other.  Notice that where the current increase being made is going (like the top double increase in the picture to the left) hasn't been decided yet -- that gets decided in the next row.

What is tricky about this is how to write it in a pattern.  In the case of adding one stitch on either side of a marker, if you look at the fabric, you are adding 1 stitch  in the 2nd stitch of the previous increase, then in the 1st stitch of the next previous increase - which sounds really complicated.  It sounds easier to say simply "increase 1 on each side of the marker." The orientation of the instructions is to focus on the relationship between the increase and the marker -- not on placing the current increase in a certain relationship to the previous increase in the line, which involves looking at the fabric structure.  It is easier to write the instructions that way.  On the down side, it creates a dependency on instructions and plays down the relevance in knowing what is happening in the fabric.

If the relationship in the project is between the stitcher and the yarn, with the pattern on the side, it is easier to look at the stitches, see what structure is going on, and simply say, "Increase to the front (or to the sleeve, or to the back)."  If more knitters and crocheters engage with the fabric, maybe that kind of pattern-writing will evolve.  It could happen.


Entrelac in crochet

Two entrelac sweaters in crochet, a bit fuzzy photo
Some years ago I played with entrelac in crochet. Here are two sweaters I made that way.  The one on the left is out of DK weight yarn; the one on the right is out of worsted weight. Traditional entrelac in knitting makes a fabric that is a bit puffy because the blocks are in stockinette stitch, and knitting is like that. Garter stitch entrelac comes out flat.  Crocheted entrelac comes out flat, too.  These were done in single crochet. For each of these sweaters, each square has the same number of rows and stitches.  I chose a block size geared to the armhole depth I wanted.  Of course, the neckline was shaped by omitting blocks or half blocks.

To get a straight edge, I started with a row of triangles along the bottom.  For sweaters, this had the advantage of pulling in the bottom edge.  For an afghan, I might make the block fabric first, with the jagged edges, then fill in the edges afterward.

Annie's Attic had afghan patterns using the entrelac technique.  One really interesting one used a variety of stitches from single all the way to trebles, so the blocks were not square but formed scallops.  Annie did a lot of really creative crocheting.

SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2014

Net backdrop.

Booth construction is a new challenge.  Fishing line, specifically 20 or 25 pound fishing line, 10mm crochet hook.  Ch-3 net stitch.  Fairly quick to make.  Very stretchy.  Feels kind of fun.  Tied to the side beams and a few points across the top, I have a net ground for hanging things.  Still need to arrange how things will hang, but here I’m just testing to make sure it won’t break easily – some archival pieces (contest winners from the 70’s and 80’s, plus sweaters pictured in my Threads articles, and some fun little cardigans for smalls).  The black background simply covers my bookshelves – at the show it will be a clear view to the next booth on each side.  I may like this.  We’ll see if it works.

SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2014

And then the garment wall ...

The swatch/sampler wall is done, for now, pending adding additional swatches as I find them (I know a couple are missing).  Next step is hanging the garments on another wall.  There isn't room for all, so I may rotate them over the three days.  It’s kind of fun.
A batch of garments to show - all are either really simply shaped or are
examples of the top-down pattern I use a lot.

On the table, there will be the baby and doll things on one side, and hats/socks/other small stuff on the other.  I have a bunch of stuff.

Wrapping up the brochure.  It’s a good start.  There is the brochure, proper, and an additional page with lots of measurement charts:  for people, for 18” dolls, and for square/rectangle things including scarves, pillows, and throws.

And once it is done, we get to take it all down and ship it.


Translating knit patterns into crochet

Every once in a while there is a buzz about how to crochet from knit patterns. It is tempting for crocheters to take a knit pattern, use the same yarn, adjust for gauge, and basically follow the pattern.  The result can work just fine, or it might be kind of clunky and not so good.  Conceptually, the process is not that hard.

The parts of a project are:
  • Construction or shaping
  • Yarn texture
  • Yarn color/s
  • Stitch properties - solid fabric, an open fabric, or a dimensional fabric
  • Embellishments
I thought of all that recently when I bought a kit for a knitted pullover using sport/DK weight alpaca, where the design was based on two rectangles of 1x1 rib knit.  Cool design, great yarn.  I wanted to crochet it, so I thought through the process:

Construction:  very simple - two rectangles.  I can do that in crochet.
Yarn texture:  dk weight alpaca, fairly smooth, not a fancy texture. Since this was a kit, the yarn was given - I had to figure out how to use the same yarn to make a comparable fabric.  Normally, if I am starting with just a pattern, I would choose a lighter weight yarn to crochet than to knit, but not in this case.
Yarn color:  neutral.  Sometimes what you like in a pattern is really the color. It can be a subliminal thing, so you may not notice this.
Stitch texture:  The 1x1 rib knit stitch makes a thicker fabric than regular stockinette stitch, with a lot of stretch, and is reversible.  The point of the exercise here is not about the visual look of a ribbed fabric, so I did not try to match that.  The whole issue of stretchy fabric in crochet is tricky because crochet doesn't have the stretch of knit -- the construction of the fabric is basically really different.  But I did notice that a chain-one net stitch worked on the diagonal makes a nice fabric.  The chain stitches add less weight than the single crochets, and the diagonal bias has more give than working back and forth in rows.

There weren't any particular embellishments here, so that wasn't an issue.

So I figured out the measurements of the rectangles, based on the given gauge in the pattern.  Made two rectangles in ch-1 net stitch on the diagonal (one of my favorite stitches), and followed the instructions for assembly.  Stitched around outside edges in single crochet and a row of crab stitch to finish, and voila - I was a happy camper.


Three balls of yarn

Casablanca wound in balls - long
stretches of color
There is a common wisdom that hand-dyed yarns should be worked 2 balls at a time, mixing rows from both balls, to minimize the dye-lot variations that happen with hand-dyed yarns.  Working between two balls of yarn can also help mix things up a bit so the colors don't pool so drastically.  Thing is, with two balls of yarn, you have to work two rows of each before switching.  With crochet rows being fairly tall, that can be pretty stripey.  As an alternative, I started working with three balls of yarn, changing yarn at the end of each row.

I recently started a sweater using Cascade's Casablanca yarn, which has long stretches in each color.  If I used only 1 skein at a time, the short rows of my sweater would have wide stripes, and the wider parts of the sweater would have skinnier stripes, and it would all look fairly color-blocked - an effect I didn't want.

By starting with three balls of yarn, each starting at a different point in the color sequence, my sweater is coming out with a more fair isle look. Still need to make more progress on the sweater to see how it all works out.

I also used the 3 balls of yarn trick on atoddler sweater, this time with one ball each of two solid colors and a coordinated ball of a variegated that includes those two colors.  Because they all blend, the variegated yarn helped soften the stripey effect of the solid colors, and made the whole piece more lady-like.

If you use 3 different colors (A, B, and C), changing every row, the color sequence will be ABCABCABC - a 3-row repeat.  If you use four colors (W, X, Y, and Z), and switch yarn at the end of each row, picking up the yarn that has been waiting the longest, you end up with an 8-row repeat:  W-X-Y-Z-X-W-Z-Y.  That puts the colors in slightly different sequence, making the fabric look fancier.  It's another easy way to look clever.


Variations on a Rectangle

Suddenly I have seen several sweater designs based on rectangles.  

This one, for example, is
a 6-foot scarf, about 20 inches wide,
worked in a lacy-kind-of-entrelac stitch.
The short ends were sewn together to make a tube,
then ribbing was added on one side to make a neck,
and on the other side to make two cuffs and the lower edge ribbing.
I saw it in a store for about $30.  The pattern stitch and the concept both seems really cool, so I bought it (and took the ribbing all undone).  The shape was not particularly wearable - there is no underarm sleeve length, but we're talking about the idea, here.

Then recently, a friend described another sweater made from a similar rectangular tube:  on one open side, mark a space for an arm opening,
then sew a bit for a shoulder,
leaving an opening for the neck.
On the other open side, mark a space for the other arm opening on the opposite side,
then sew a bit for a side seam,
leaving an opening for the lower edge.
Using the undone ribbing yarn from the store-bought sweater, I crocheted in a ch-2 net stitch to add to the two open sides to add width, and ended up with this:

And finally, a local yarn shop offered a kit for a rectangle pullover with dolman sleeves.  The pattern calls for knitting it in a 1x1 rib, but I will most likely crochet it in a ch-2 net stitch.  The kit should come in in a couple of weeks.

I like the idea of making things from simple shapes, especially if they work.  But even if they don't work, starting with a simple shape leads to understanding how shaping can make really good sense.


Standard Body Measurements

Following a pattern for a crocheted garment can be tricky because gauge is tricky in crochet. You might match the stitch gauge but not the row gauge. You might want the fabric to be looser or more firm than what you are getting by following the pattern. You might very well be using a different yarn than the pattern indicates. There are lots of factors.

So, knowing what kinds of measurements are involved can be really useful. And it turns out that there are size charts out there that include a lot more information than just the bust/chest measurement that we usually depend on when buying ready-made garments. The Craft Yarn Council has pages on their website with this information. Here are some links:

The kinds of information shown on this page and listed in the body charts


and there are charts for women and men, too)

give you a clue of what kinds of measurements to look for, for example, with making doll clothes, too.

These charts are handy tools in my information kit.

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