Tuesday, November 10, 2009

pattern creation

I am thinking of working up some patterns that would be handy for the Afghans For Afghans program. Right now I am thinking about sweaters for youth. Here are a few areas where I would love feedback from other crocheters:

Fabric: for the sake of warmth, the fabric wants to be fairly dense. Single crochet will make the densest fabric (even more so with variations like long sc). Double crochet will make a looser fabric, but goes faster. Half double crochet is a possible compromise -- makes an interesting texture, goes a little more quickly than sc but is more dense than dc. There are various stitch combinations, often some various of a short stitch (like sc or sl st) with a taller stitch (dc orh dc), where one alternates on each row putting the "tall" stitch into the shorter stitch in the row below and vice versa. It can make an interesting texture and can be a little more fun to make. Post crochets can be used to make cable-like or basketweave textures and add to the density, but they use up a lot of yarn. Shells are pretty, but generally are less dense.

Style: pullover or cardigan? Pullovers feel quicker and easier, but cardigans may be more flexible. One idea is to make a pullover with a something like a henley or polo shirt type collar (a slit with a few buttons and various collar styles). This lets the pullover be snug against the neck if the wearer chooses and gives plenty of room to pull it on.

Edges: ribbing or not? Ribbing at the waist and sleeve cuff makes the sweater fit more snugly and keepts out drafts. It is also more work than just making a straight body/sleeve and takes longer. Ribbing in crochet can be done with post stitches worked vertically across rows, or worked side to side with with rows of sc worked in the back loop, the width of the rows being equal to the height of the ribbing (usually with a smaller hook than the body). The ribbing band then gets turned on its side. There are 3 ways to deal with the second kind of ribbing: 1.) make the ribbing first and then work a base row of sc along one long side of the ribbing band as the foundation for the body, 2.) make the ribbing last (sl st into the body and ch a base for the ribbing, turn and sc in back loop only, sl st into the body to end a row and sl st again to begin the next row), 3.) make the ribbing separately (crochet a separate band) and sew it on.

Sleeves: many modern patterns have no sleeve cap or armhole shaping. This makes it very easy to do, but the shoulder seam is well below the actual shoulder/arm joint. This can make it a bit bulky, or if the sleeve isn't wide enough at the top there can be a problem with not enough ease. Does the convenience of working straight blocks of fabric override the shaping? There are some compromises here -- the sleeve doesn't have to be as formed as a suit jacket, but can be more trapezoidal in shape and set into a relative square armhole indented in the body.

Color: I like putting decorative color patterns on things. I also think it is good if a design encourages the use of small leftovers of yarn, like the Invest for Peace vest does. An easy way to use multiple colors is with stripes, of course. The ribbing and such can be a different color from the body. And one can use tapestry crochet methods to work colored patterns across the work.

Your thoughts and preferences on all these aspects of a pattern are much appreciated, whatever your experience level!


  1. Cti, I'll need to mull this over for a day or two. I've made a lot of the crochet In-Vest for Peace pattern, and have adapted parts of it (fair game, since I'm one of the designers of the original!). What I like about the vest is its simplicity. If there were a way to make a sweater that simple, it would be great.

    I have an old McCall's crochet pattern book that has a really nice sweater pattern in it. I can't get to it right now, it's buried behind a big pile of "stuff," but when I can get it out, I'll let you know what it's called. Maybe you already own it, and can adapt the pattern. I don't remember it exactly, but it wasn't too hard.

    Seems to me, from watching Shirley struggle at a4A, and having made a couple sweaters myself, one area that is a problem is shaping the fronts and backs. It would be great if you can figure out an easy way to do that. Here's a curiosity question: can one make raglan-style sleeves in crochet? that would be cool. A neck-down, raglan, crochet sweater.

    Ok, off I go to think about stitches, patterns, etc. If I don't remember to come back and give you more feedback, poke me on the a4A blog and remind me!


  2. yes, you can make raglan style sleeves in crochet. I should have thought of that as one of the options!

    I am very fond of old Women's Day, McCall's and other vintage magazines for their patterns and I have a few favorites. When you get around to it, I'd love to know which one you are thinking of...

  3. C, I love your work and can't wait to see what you come up with. Although I'm a very good knitter, I'm a beginner at crochet and haven't ever made anything that wasn't rectangular. I'd love to see a simple, easy pullover that doesn't look like a grocery bag with a hole cut in it for the wearer's head! Such a pattern would not only be perfect for me -- and, of course, it's all about me :) -- but would also be more likely to provide A4A with wearable, usable garments. I've been involved in all sorts of collections of knitted and crocheted goods over the years, and that experience just reinforces the fact that a pattern that reliably comes out well would be an invaluable resource. Looking forward to trying out whatever you come up with.


  4. Ok, it was bugging me, so I went digging. The book I mentioned above is "McCall's Crochet Treasury," copyright 1977. The specific sweater I was thinking of is called "Plaid Pullover," and the pattern starts on page 150. It's an easy pattern, and I think it could be readily adapted so that you wouldn't have to worry about copyright problems.

    The sweater is in the "Men's" section, even though the sizes are for a teen-aged boy. But, if it were made in different colors, it might work for a young girl, too. Not for an older girl, there's no darting or shaping in it, but...

    When I made this for a4A, I did not make it plaid. I didn't want to mess with that. I made it striped, I think. I probably have a photo of it, if you want me to try to find it. Only, I don't know how to upload it here.

    Ok, off I go to think some more. Don't forget to poke me if you need to! or you can email me directly at genknit at verizon dot net.


  5. Hi, me again. Been thinking about this...

    I think ribbed cuffs and hem would be good. I prefer the fpdc type of ribbing, but some beginner crocheters might not want to do that.

    Pullover would be my style of choice. When I was a kid, I always preferred pullovers (well, ok, till I was in high school and worried about my hair). They're warmer than button-up, and don't "leak" around the buttons.

    When I make hdc's they are more holey than either my sc's or my dc's. Is that the case with you? This tendency of my crochet would lead me to say the fabric would probably be best as either sc, or as a combination of long and short stitches (as you suggested above). Those are fun to make, too--much less boring than straight sc. The sweater I made from McCalls was a combination of long and short.

    As far as the sleeves go, since I also sew, putting in a set-in sleeve is not an issue for me. I can see where it could be a problem for some, though. That's why I thought the raglan sleeve would be good, if it's something that would work.

    Hope my ruminations have helped some. If I can be of help during your planning stages, or if you need someone to try out your directions, let me know. It'd probably be best to email me, because even if Fred is on the computer, he will let me check my email.

    Just so you know, he's only a computer hog on the weekends during football season, because we don't have cable TV and sometimes the only way to hear the Michigan State games is over the internet radio broadcasts (we live in Texas). =^_^=


  6. thanks for your ruminations Sue! based on your suggestion earlier, I am right this minute working on a raglan pullover, made from the most recent baby blanket leftovers. It's acrylic, so it will probably go to one of my friend's 5 kids if it comes out ok :). I'll share a pic and directions as soon as I have anything!