How to Measure Gauge

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Now that you have learned the keys to making a good swatch (if you missed it, check out that post here), let’s talk about how to measure that bad boy.

You will want a good measuring tool. I used to use my sewing tape measure that was plastic and rolled up. But then I learned that those can stretch out over time and then you no longer get an accurate reading. So you want to use something sturdy and non-stretchy to measure. A super nice ruler to try is the Annie’s Needle & Hook Gauge with Yarn Cutter. This baby has it all. You can measure your gauge, double check your hook size  AND cut your yarn ends as you work. Super nice 3-in-1 tool!

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In our April 2022 issue, we did a product review over the gauge rulers from Katrinkles. All  you have to do is lay the square over your swatch and count inside the square much like the Annie’s one. Makes things nice and simple.

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Now that you have your perfect tool and you have followed all the advice from the previous gauge post about making a swatch, you are ready to start measuring the stitch gauge. This is the number of stitches across a certain measurement. Hitting the number stated in the pattern ensures your finished piece will fit correctly or be the same size as the one in the pattern.

Lay your ruler over your swatch. Try to place the ruler at the start of a stitch (along the stitch’s left side) and then count your stitches across to the 4 inch mark (or to the number of inches your pattern is telling you to count across).

Does the number match what the pattern says it should?

Now let’s check row gauge. Align the ruler along the base of a row of stitches. Now count each row up to the measurement given in the pattern. Again does it match what the pattern states?

It does! Great! Start working on your project.

If it doesn’t, what are your next steps? You will need to make a new gauge swatch but try a different hook size. Sometimes it is just a matter of going up or down one hook size but other times it may be several.  I have had to go up 4 hook sizes before to get the gauge in the given pattern. It just means your tension is a lot different than the designer’s.

  1. If you have more stitches than the pattern tells you gauge should be, you will need to go UP a hook size or more.
    1. Example: Pattern’s gauge is 14 sc = 4 inches.
    2. Your swatch reads: 16 sc = 4 inches.
    3. You need to use a larger hook to make fewer stitches over 4 inches.
  2. If you have fewer stitches than the pattern tells you gauge should be, you will need to go DOWN a hook size or more.
    1. Example: Pattern’s gauge is 14 sc= 4 inches.
    2. Your swatch reads: 11 sc = 4 inches.
    3. You need to use a smaller hook to create more stitches in that amount of space.

But what if your row gauge is off? This one is tougher because it means the height of your stitches is different than the designer’s. Height of stitches is harder to accommodate. Your stitches will get a little taller or shorter with a different hook size but not a lot. This is more of a matter of how high you are pulling up your loops as you create stitches and the angle you hold your hook at while creating stitches. Check out this video for more info on this tricky topic.

If you still have trouble getting gauge, you may need to switch up what material your hooks is made of. Like if you made your swatch with a wood hook and can’t get gauge, try a metal one. I know, sounds weird but it’s true. The yarn moves across the hook material differently. It will stick a bit on a wood hook and glide quickly across a slick metal hook. You may also just have to try a different yarn with your hook. Though a yarn may read that it is worsted, there are still lots of variation in the actual thickness from one worsted weight yarn to the next. But that is a whole different discussion.

—Britt Schmiesing, editor

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What You Need To Know About Tunisian Hooks

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

If you’ve been thinking about learning Tunisian Crochet, one thing you’ve undoubtedly heard about is that you’re going to need new hooks.

And this is true, to an extent. If you want to make any project that’s wider than 4 inches, you’ll have to get a Tunisian hook. If you just want to see if you like the new technique, you can try it out on any straight hook you already have (ergonomic isn’t going to work for this one). You can make a small chain and test out Tunisian Simple stitch, loading your hook up with as many loops as you can fit on it. If you want to keep going, you can make a skinny scarf, or make several skinny panels and sew them together to make a larger project.

Something to keep in mind—you’ll want to use a large hook than your yarn recommends. All of the Tunisian stitches have a tighter yarn tension than regular crochet stitches and it will make your projects want to curl in on themselves. Using a larger hook helps counter that. If your yarn recommends you use a 4mm hook, you’ll want to use a hook that’s between 5.5mm and 6.5mm.

If you enjoy the technique and you want to be able to make a larger variety of projects, there are a few hook options to think about.

# 1: Straight Hooks

Metal Tunisian Straight Hook with Yarn Cast On

Straight Tunisian Crochet Hook

Straight Hooks are really great for beginners, and they’re what I started with. They come in a few different lengths, but the common length is between 10-14 inches. If you’re just looking to play around, you can grab a full set online for a few dollars to get a feel for what you’re looking for in a hook. With these sets, I definitely only recommend them as starter hooks to get into Tunisian Crochet. The most common you’ll find are metal and plastic, or resin. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can pick up some gorgeous bamboo straight hooks from ChiaGoo or Furls.

With straight hooks, you’re limited on the size on project you can make. Unless you want to make multiple panels and sew them together later, you won’t be able to make a larger project like an afghan. These hooks are incredible for scarves, hats (not worked in the round), and other smaller projects.

# 2: Interchangeable Hooks

Denise Interchangeable Hook Set Plastic Tunisian Hooks

Denise Interchangeable Hook Set

Interchangeable hooks are the favorite of most crocheters. The interchangeable hooks give you the most options when it comes to making projects. With these, you can easily change the length of your hook, meaning you can make a mug rug or you can make a massive bedspread. You can even pick up a second hook of your favorite size and use it like a double-ended circular hook, which allows you to crochet in the round.

ChiaGoo Bamboo Interchangeable Hook Set Tunisian Hooks

ChiaGoo Interchangeable Bamboo Hook Set

There are a lot of different hooks you can get, but the top 2 favorites are the Denise Interchangeable Hook Set, which is one of the cheapest on the market with the best quality of plastic hooks, and the bamboo set from ChiaGoo, which is the best bamboo set on the market. Both are easy to use and the cords lock on to the hooks, which stops you from worrying about the cord disconnecting in the middle of a row.

# 3: Hooks with Set Cords

Wood Hook Tunisian with Set Cord

Tunisian Hook with Set Cord

Hooks with set cords give you that added length and flexibility that you wouldn’t get from the straight hooks. You could use these to make afghans, but, depending on the length of the cord, you won’t be able to make anything bigger than that. You would also have to deal with all of that extra cord while making smaller projects.

A lot of people love these because the cords are set, so you don’t have to worry about the cord not being connected properly and falling off in the middle of a row, which can be a problem with some of the interchangeable sets. With these, you can pick up the hook and start crocheting immediately. Check out Annie’s Craft Store to pick up a size K hook with a 24 inch cable!

# 4: Double-Ended Hooks & Double-Ended Circular Hooks

Double-Ended Crochet Hooks Tunisian Hooks

Double-Ended Crochet Hook

Double-Ended Hooks are a necessity if you have any plans of crocheting in the round.

With these hooks, you want to really think about the project you’re working on before choosing one. You can get straight hooks that are the same length as a regular crochet hook (about 5 ½ inches), which are perfect for small projects like leg warmers or mittens, or you can get straight hooks that are 10-14 inches long and work perfectly for most other projects in the round. Using a long hook for a small project can be difficult, though it is possible, and the same could be said about using a small hook for a larger project. Either way, using a hook that doesn’t fit your project is going to be a lot more work for you.

Double-Ended Circular Crochet Hooks Tunisian Crochet

Double-Ended Circular Crochet Hooks

Double-Ended Circular Hooks are just two hooks that are connected by a set cord. They’re really great for projects like sweaters and other larger projects that you have to work in the round. The cord tends to get in the way when using these with the smaller projects, so I definitely recommend using this one with big projects.

Have you tried Tunisian Crochet yet?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

Need hooks? Check out Annie’s Craft Store

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FAQ: Beach Waves Blanket

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Hello everyone! It seems you all love our June 2022 cover project, the Beach Waves Blanket by designer Alessandra Hayden. With all that love has come some questions about how to create this stunner, so I thought I would put all your questions into a blog post to help you out! Some of the questions below kind of repeat in a way other questions, but I thought it best to include them all. The different wordings of the questions may strike a better chord with you. I will add more questions as they pop up! If you don’t have a copy yet, be sure to subscribe or head over here to get one!

How is the colorwork accomplished? 

This pattern is worked in tapestry crochet. That means that you work over the color not in use until you need it. When you are one stitch before the color change, work the stitch until you have 2 loops on your hook, drop the old color and pull the new color through the loops. Now when you work the next stitch, work over the old color while stitching with the new color. This hides the color while not in use. If you need a visual of tapestry crochet, click here.

On the color change rows, am I to sc join both colors at the beginning and carry the yarn along?

You will sc join with the main color for that row and you will work over the second color until it is needed. On rows where you are using two colors, you have main color that starts the row and a second color that comes in later. Therefore you want to sc join over the top of the second color until you need it, see tapestry crochet info above. You will leave a long tail for both at the start that will become your fringe later. When you are doing using the second color in the row, you will continue to crochet over it through to the end. Eventually your row’s starting color will shift and then you will shift what color is considered the main color and which color is considered the second color.

Throughout the entire project the yarn colors switch from one color to another color after just a few stitches. Do I cut the yarn each time or leave it connected and then pick it back up. If I leave it connected doesn’t that make the back side of the blanket a mess. Also if you cut the yarn each time how do I finish off that stitch?

No cutting the yarn until you are completely done with the row. Again see tapestry crochet information in the first question. Working over the color not in use, saves you from cutting and keeps the back looking just as pretty as the front.

How do I leave a 7” tail on the second color that is used in the row?

Since you are working over the second color to the very end, you will be able to cut a leave a 7 inch tail at the same time you cut a 7 inch tail for the main color in the row.

What does it mean the “right side is facing at all times”?

You never turn the blanket. You will always be working this pattern with the right side (or public/pretty) side facing you. When you complete the row and cut all the yarn, you go back to the start of the blanket to start the next row. Do NOT turn the blanket to do so, just slide your work back until you are at the first stitch. Then leave your long yarn tails, sc join over the color not in use and work across the row from right to left (or left to right if you are a lefty) again. So you will always read the chart from right to left (or left to right if you are a lefty).

–Britt Schmiesing, editor

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6 Styles From the Roaring 20’s That You Have To Make

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

Vintage styles have been trending for the last few years, and don’t seem to be going anywhere.

With the rise in popularity of thrift shops, trending styles range through all of the decades of the last century. You can find pieces from 1940 just as easily as you can from 1990 in thrift shops and now regular stores too.

Let’s look at some pieces that were staples in the 1920’s that have come back into style 100 years later.

These projects will give any outfit a Roaring 20’s twist:

# 1: Beverly Head Wrap  

Sage Green Twisted Headband

Beverly Head Wrap by Jenia Daugherty of Jenia’s Designs

Headwraps were typically worn during the day and paired with casual outfits, and they were a fun alternative to the flashier headbands that were worn at night. This one can be worn on chilly spring mornings and while pampering yourself with a relaxing face mask at night.

# 2: Azure Scarf

Sky Blue Scarf with Fringe and Triangle Pattern

Azure Scarf by Alla Koval

The triangular designs in this scarf give it an Art Deco feel, which was as much of a necessity for fashion as it was for architecture and interior design. Fringe was a must on any fashion piece from the 1920’s too.

# 3: Madeline Split Front Dress

Knee-Length Dress Drop Waist and Plunging Neckline

Madeleine Split Front Dress by Tia Edwards

Dropped waistlines on dresses were the epitome of fashion throughout the Roaring 20’s, especially dresses that had the waistline sit at a woman’s hips and the hemline hit around her knees. The plunging neckline and lack of sleeves really gives this dress a true 20’s feel.

# 4: Eleanor Turban Hat

Turban Inspired Hat Gold and Bronze

Eleanor Turban Hat by Jenia Daugherty of Jenia’s Designs

While the cloche was the most popular hat, the turban was a close second. It originally became popular in the previous decade, but it remained a favorite through the 20’s and this one ties in gold and bronze—the top colors of the decade!

# 5: Flirty Filigree Necklace

Lavender Necklace with Beads and Tassels

Flirty Filigree Necklace by Cherie Bernatt of Crochet Mon Cherie

With the introduction of costume jewelry, beads became essential for any outfit. This necklace combines the important addition of beads with the popularity of fringe, giving it that must-have vintage-feel!

# 6: Half Circle Pineapple Shawl

Half Circle Gray Shawl with Pineapple Stitches

Half Circle Pineapple Shawl by Sharon Silverman

Feathers were incredibly popular with Flappers in the early 1920’s, and could often be found in headdresses and on gowns. The pineapple stitches of this shawl are reminiscent of the most popular feather on that time—the Peacock feather.

What’s your favorite vintage style?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

Need more inspiration? Check out Annie’s Craft Store for more incredible crochet patterns! 

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Keys to Making an Accurate Gauge Swatch

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Let’s talk some more about gauge. If you missed my first post about gauge, go here.

Work a swatch that is at least 4 inches by 4 inches. For garments, the larger the gauge swatch the more accurate.

Swatches can lie so it is always important that you make one that is a decent size. What do I mean by they lie? Well you may work your swatch and get the correct measurements but then you start working the piece. You work for so long, take a time out and check the measurements and it is the wrong size. What? Your swatch lied. The larger the swatch the more accurate it will be because as you work a piece you get more comfortable with it and your gauge may change. Also the size and weight of the actual piece can shift the stitches, thus a large swatch is ideal. A 6 inch square swatch or larger is going to be best.

Block your swatch the same way you plan on blocking your finished item.

This will also help you get the most accurate gauge. If you plan on wet blocking your finished piece, then wet block the swatch. If you plan on steaming it, then steam the swatch. If you wet block your swatch but then steam block your finished piece, you are going to end up with two different measurements. Things can grow and change with blocking. Wet blocking opens up the work a lot while a steam block is more gentle. You want the most accurate information from your swatch so you want to work with it like you will work with the piece. One final note, blocking acrylic isn’t really going to change it much as it is a manmade fiber.

Work the swatch like the dominant stitch pattern and in the same manner as the pattern (ie flat or in the round).

First, always work in the stitches or stitch pattern the gauge information states. However, sometimes gauge will just read so many stitches = 4 inches and isn’t specific. In that case, work in the dominant stitch pattern. This gives you a bit of practice with the stitch pattern as well as a more direct read of the gauge. Second, if your project is worked in the round, you want to work your swatch in the same manner. Believe it or not, folks tension changes with how the piece is worked. I tend to crochet tighter in the round than on flat pieces. Also items with smaller circumferences, like sleeves, folks tend to crochet tighter.

Bring your blocked gauge swatch around with you for a couple of days and fiddle with it every once in a while. This is especially important for garments.

A garment gets a lot of wear and abuse during the day. Think about how many times you push your sleeves up or fiddle with the hem or tug the back down or untuck it when somehow it has miraculously ended up pinched in your waistband. All this abuse and movement can change the gauge of the piece. If you take your swatch around with you for a day or two you will get a more accurate reading. Toss it in your purse or pocket. Pull it out from time to time and fiddle with it and then toss it back in. After a day or so, measure it and use that gauge information. This isn’t really necessary for most other types of crochet.

If substituting yarn, pick a yarn that is the same weight and a similar fiber content.

Using a yarn with a different fiber content, even if if is the same yarn weight, can make it difficult to get gauge. If the designer used a wool, which grows a bit and fluffs up more with blocking, and you choose an acrylic that blocking isn’t really going to do much for…well you may have a hard time get a gauge that matches the pattern. The twist on the yarn, as in how it was spun up, can also affect your gauge. A tightly spun yarn is going to behave differently than a loose spun one. If you can get or see a small sample of the yarn in the pattern and compare it to the new yarn you want to use, that would be best for ensuring you are making a good swatch. Tara Orchard has already had a couple of posts on this blog about yarn substitutions so be sure to check those out!

Next time, I talk about gauge, I will outline how to accurately measure your swatch. Be sure to visit here often to learn more!

—Britt Schmiesing

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