Gauge, Hooks, & Progress

Project – Flower Cardigan
Bernat Free Pattern (download here)
Yarn – Bernat Satin in 04431 Wine Mist Heather
Blogger – MichelleCrochets

I promised that I would discuss some other changes I’m making to the Flower Cardigan pattern. The first major change is the size hook I will use.  The pattern calls for a G hook, but I’m going to try a J hook.  
WHAT?  Yes, three hook sizes up.

One of the criticisms of crocheted garments is that they are too stiff.   Typically, there are two ways to combat this – use either a thinner yarn or a thicker hook than the pattern states.  This will allow the crocheted fabric to have drape so that it skims over your body in a flattering way.  In the picture, the "standing" swatch was done with the G hook and the drapey swatch was done  with the J hook.

When you change hooks, the gauge changes - drastically in this case since I went up three sizes.  What does that mean?  I should not chain the number of stitches called for in the pattern – I must do math of some sort to decide how many fewer stitches to chain to get the same size garment listed in the schematic drawing.

The risk was evident after I did the math and crocheted the first row of chains.  Here is what happened – my J hook swatch measured 14 hdc and 11 rows for a 4 inch square.  The pattern gauge is 16 hdc and 12 rows and the back of the garment (in the XS size) should measure 18 ¼ inches.  Since the length of the cardigan is less of an issue because I can always remove rows, I thought it would be simple algebra to the rescue.  Yes and no.  Let’s try this:

If MY gauge is 14 stitches over 4 inches, how many stitches should be in 18 ¼ inches?

14 =      x

4              18.25

Solving for x:  4x = 14*18.25, therefore x = 63.875 stitches

(Stay with me if you aren’t a math buff – it gets better)

So…I chain 63 to start the bottom of the back of the cardigan.  And the chain wraps clear around my body.  Um – what about the two front pieces?  Using the same calculation, I’d be using 31 chains for each piece. Uh oh.  “Math” is going to make my cardigan enormous.

I toss algebra to the wind and use common sense.  I chain until I reach 18 ¼ inches (plus 2 stitches for my turning chain).  Much better.

Why did this happen?  Using larger hooks will make a looser stitch.  This is great if you are between sizes in a garment and go up one hook size to create a little more ease.  Three sizes larger will make the stitches pretty loose.  While algebra gave me a guideline for not using a 74 stitch starting chain, the schematic drawing with measurements was really the appropriate tool to use to make these adjustments.

Now, did you notice how I didn’t mention precisely how many chains I did?  Welcome to major change number two.  I’m either very brave or quite insane, but I’m also changing how the sweater is constructed.  Instead of crocheting the back and then two exactly mirrored fronts, I thought that I’d consolidate and do more of an all in one piece semi-seamless construction.  I’ll discuss the particulars of how this worked (or didn’t) in next week’s post.  In the meantime, check out how fast a crochet garment starts to work up!



I'm going with SMART and BRAVE both. :) I can't wait to see what your alterations look like with the final pattern. I loved the suggestion to use a thinner yarn or bigger hook to get a more soft/stretchy fabric. Great tip! Thanks for sharing your process!

Eeeek, math! But I'm intrigued by the changes you've made. I hope your alterations work out. Looking forward to your next post.

Thanks Dina & Kristin! This is certainly turning into a seat of the pants modification adventure! Thanks for the encouragement!

Whoa! You're smarter than me! Do you teach Algebra? Are you an engineer?