Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the importance of gauge swatches for crochet

Originally uploaded by orangeeener
As a happy birthday to me, I bought the Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I started in August and read the first entry. I then skipped around and I read where the Mrs. Zimmermann wrote about the importance of swatching. I've made quite a few projects lately where things did not turn out how I wanted them (the trellis pull-over, the felted hooded vest, zip-up vest). I had measured for gauge as I worked but did not make a swatch. I think if I had made the swatch and then washed and hung it, it would have given me a little bit of an inkling of how the yarn would behave.

In the case of the zip-up vest, I tend to crochet loosely and the Noro Himaraya yarn stretches over time because it is single ply and loosely spun.  Had I made a gauge, I would have used a smaller hook or adjusted the number of rows in the sleeves to allow for the stretch and prevented making a sweater that looks great on my son.

Same thing with Trellis. It was made with a rayon yarn and rayon is notorious for stretching. How many rayon skirts have I made that when I hung up had a funky hem in the morning?  Again, a smaller hook and I think a foundation single crochet so that each side of the garment stretched the same.  The side with the foundation chain did not stretch as much as the other.

So, I have resolved to begin making gauge swatches. While this one will not be made a wash cloth like Mrs. Zimmermann recommends, it could probably be a very plush rug for Sam's dollhouse.

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