Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Learning to Crochet & Finishing a Long Forgotten Jumper

I realised over the weekend I learnt to crochet just over eight years ago now!
I used the book, "Good Housekeeping Crochet" which I had bought in a charity shop. It is still available second-hand from Amazon here and I've just noticed it's almost the same age as me (first published in 1981). I think it's great (as do both people who gave it 5* reviews on Amazon) and still regularly refer to it if I'm looking for a stitch. It doesn't contain patterns for items, it's more a directory of stitches and gives examples of things each stitch may be good for and suggested yarn, etc.

The first book I bought which contained patterns for finished items, just after I had mastered the basics, was "Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet" by Nancy Queen & Mary Ellen O'Connell. I bought it whilst in Ireland for my Grandma's 80th birthday party, she would have turned 88 last weekend so I know it's been eight years.
This book also has a good "how-to" section and discusses different yarn types etc. However, it is an American book and as such uses American terminology which I had to get my head around as I had only just got the hang of British terms.
I'm not a fan of every item in the book but there were a few items I really liked and it seemed like a good choice for a beginner especially from the options available in the general book shop I was in.
My favourite pattern is easily the shell stitch hat, Surfer Chick Quick Cap, on page 109. 
I have made this hat I don't know how many times, most female members of my family have received one at some point! I've made them in lots of sizes by changing the wool and hook size, right from newborn upwards. I also quite often add a accent such as a crocheted flower or a button. I also tend to make it a bit longer and not quite so tight as the one pictured in the book.
There's no scale in this picture but it's for a newborn and the yarn was a super soft mix.
The first item of clothing crochet item I attempted was the "No Sweat Hoodie" on page 91. This was just after the first hat I made. As I had found that nice and easy, I was buzzing with confidence. 
Unfortunately I never actually finished the hoodie though, I made all the sections but when it came to sewing it together I couldn't get it to work. So I folded it up, but it in a storage box and promptly forgot all about it. 
I decided now was the time to rescue the sections from the depths of my storage mountain and see if it's clear to me now that I have a good bit of experience behind me and I have to say I must have been a complete moron back then!!
I honestly don't know what was wrong with me but I can't have been thinking straight. The hoodie features raglan sleeves- I know full well what raglan sleeves are and did so long before I could crochet, so I don't know what my excuse is for completely missing an entire section of the pattern; this resulted in both my sleeves ending with straight tops without raglan shaping at all?!? 
Like I said, moron. I'm going to put it down to the fact I was very inexperienced at reading patterns. Suffice to say it would be impossible to finish it as it was. Thankfully I've come a long way since then so decided to finish the jumper.
I looked up to see if there were any discussions online and found some comments on Ravelry. That made me feel a whole lot better as other people were struggling with the back and I managed that at least. Although, looking at the pencil notes I made all over the place I don't think I found it super straight forward.
I finished the arms to a nice raglan point (yay!) 
After- raglan style!
I sewed the front, back and arms together and tried it on. It was okay but not great, a big short and tighter than I would have liked. To be honest the yarn I chose may have been a factor but it is the correct weight suggested and after doing a tension square I used a 12mm hook instead of 11.5mm to obtain the gauge needed. I loosely attached the hood and decided against it altogether, it didn't look right at all only coming up to the top of my head. 
So to increase the length, I decided to add a waist band using three rows of half treble stitches (US= half double stitches) and a row of double stitches (US = single stitch). 
Once I had done this I decided to make it a polo neck jumper with 4 rows of half trebles and a row of doubles to match the bottom and I completely disposed of the hood altogether. 
(If the sleeves hadn't been plenty long enough as they were, I would have added wristbands to match also.)
That's the great thing about a bit of experience, it gives you the confidence to change the pattern up a bit and even make your own patterns. In many ways I actually prefer to make it up as I go along now rather than reading a pattern but you do have to allow for trial and error!

I used Patons' "Eco Wool Chunky" to make the jumper and while it is really nice to crochet with and the result is lovely and snuggly, I'm not very keen on the colours. I think my taste must have changed since then, although it looks better as a ball. It is ecological though and knowing me it was probably on offer? ;-)

What do you think? Thanks so much for reading this post!

Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

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