It's getting to that time of year again here when the weather starts to turn crisper and everyone suddenly remembers that winter will be here again this year before long and they really need a new hat/sweater/pair of mitts/seven cardigans!
1/ CHOOSE PATTERNS FOR STYLE FIRST AND TECHNIQUE SECOND:
If you want something you will wear and wear make sure it is a style you like to wear. Look to your existing wardrobe before you make that pattern purchase.
If you only ever choose cardigans with set-in sleeves normally don’t make a raglan jumper no matter how much you want to crochet that lace panel in it.
If you never wear chunky sweaters then, while it may be quicker to work up a chunky yarn, it will be time (and money) wasted when you don't wear it, pick a pattern calling for 4-ply!
Of course, choosing something that will be enjoyable to make is important too as you will be working on it for a while probably, so do choose based on interesting design features and techniques you'd like to try too. But only after you have considered the above.
2/ ASK SOMEONE TO MEASURE YOU PROPERLY:
There is a whopping TWO INCH (5cm) difference between the measurement I get when I measure my own bust and the measurement when someone else gets the tape measure to it. Ask a friend for help (if you have any that do dress making then nab them!) Its impossible to choose the right size to make if you don’t know what size you are. That means having a good set of measurements for bust, waist, hip and upper arm at least for sweater making. No rounding down for vanity or breathing in!
Whatever body part you need to measure always ensure that the tape measure lies flat and taught but not pulling in and is straight across all the way around at the fullest point (or slimmest for waist and wrists.)
3/ UNDERSTAND EASE:
Once you have good measurements you can’t just pick the closest size on the pattern leaflet. You need to add the ease. Often the pattern will suggest the amount of ease to add (or deduct for very fitted sweaters.)
Ease is the amount of give in a garment – probably almost none of the clothes in your wardrobe will have the same chest measurement as you. You add the ease to your measurement to give the finished size you will want to wear.
Functional ease is about allowing enough room for the garment to be wearable. Can the head fit through the neck hole, can you move your arms, if the item is an over layer such as a sweater designed to go over a shirt then the functional ease often needs to allow for garments to be worn underneath. It is also really important for hats where a little negative ease is needed at the brim otherwise the damn thing won’t stay on! (too tight and you’ll have a massive headache!)
Design ease is about how it looks and drapes and this is more to do with style, fashions and personal preference.
Both functional ease and design ease requirements are affected by the type of fabric we are making so consider carefully how stiff or drapey and how elastic the fabric you are producing is. The thickness of the fabric is also an important consideration as the finished measurement of the inside of a very thick sweater will be less than the external measurement by twice the thickness. Therefore the fibre content and weight of the yarn and the tension/gauge you are working at will all affect the ease needed.
If you are unsure it is a really good idea to get your measuring tape out and head for your own wardrobe to see what ease that favourite sweater actually has – you may well be surprised.
There is no point measuring yourself carefully if you crochet blind. Do that tension swatch! For more information about swatching read our last post.
This post is rewritten and adapted from two posts originally published by Joanne on her personal blog.