Yarn Substitution

Finding Different Yarns that Match

I remember when I first started crocheting, I didn’t have a clue about yarn substitution, I didn’t give a second thought to buying aran instead of double knit (DK) for a cardigan I wanted to make. It kind of looked the same so it didn’t occur to me that it would have an effect on the final outcome of my exciting new crochet project. Oh dear.

Therefore, the first rule of Yarn Sub: do not use a different weight of yarn.

If a pattern calls for DK, it’s likely that other DK yarns will work. Checking other DK yarns would be my first port of call. But, hmmm, not all DK yarns are created equal. A cotton DK can be quite a bit different to a wool DK. I still find cotton DK confusing because some of them are super fine compared to fluffier fibres. Oh my, this is not a straightforward subject!

Please don’t worry, keep reading because I will explain all about different yarn weights. I will explain about different fibres and yardage/meterage too. Together, each of these elements should be considered when selecting your new yarn choice.

Why Substitute Yarn?

So, what yarn are you going to choose for your new project crochet or knitting project? It’s great when you can use the recommended yarn choices but what about when you can’t? This is the perfect moment for yarn substitution step forward and wave hello!

There are loads of reasons why a suggested yarn isn’t the right choice for you. Here are some examples I can think of:

  • The original yarn has been discontinued. Side note:: I’m writing this post because a new design that’s launching very soon, Little Fluffy Clouds, has a lovely sample (the pink one below) and since making and writing the pattern, poooff, the yarn is no longer available!! Arghh… I didn’t fret for long, I met gauge with a different DK and made a new sample. Yay!
  • You can’t buy the yarn where you live. Different countries often sell different yarn brands.
  • You’re allergic to the fibres.
  • It’s not within your budget (some yarns are super expensive!).
  • Wool in the heat? No thanks. Maybe you want to sub it for a cooler plant-based fibre.
  • Maybe it’s for ethical reasons. For example, if you’re a vegan you wouldn’t choose animal fibres to work with.
  • And what if you have plenty of yarn already and need to stashbust?!

In this blog post I will cover the main aspects of yarn substitution so that you know what you need to consider when investing in the new yarn you need for that gorgeous sweater you want to make.

Little Fluffy Clouds crochet cardigans. Yarn substitution for when your yarn is unavailable.
Little Fluffy Clouds, a crochet cardigan with two DK yarns. One light & fluffy, one with a more standard wool yarn.

Top Tips for Yarn Substitution

If the following article looks like a TLDR type of thing, allow me to help with a shortcut to some info. It isn’t all included below but there are definitely quick ways to find yarn alternatives:

  • If you’d like to try different brands or fibres of various DK yarns (for example), maybe ask fellow makers for recommendations. Put a question to Instagram or a Facebook group that you’re in. In the past, I have cheekily asked if friends can send me samples of yarn in the post, just enough for a swatch so I can try before I buy. Maybe offer a yarn swap.
  • Or, pop to your LYS to ask for advice.
  • Check out the ball band/details of the yarn. Find a similar family of fibres, match the yarn weight (how thick the yarn is), match the yardage. A close match of all suggests you could meet gauge quite nicely.
  • Visit Yarnsub.com and check out what they’ve got in terms of a close match.
  • Use the filter in online yarn stores to zone in on similar products. Tick on all the filters that apply and narrow down your search.
  • If you find yourself staring at the screen, torn between a few different options, check out some finished projects for recommended yarns on Ravelry to see if it helps you make a decision.

Easy Ways to Substitute Yarn

So, onto a bit more detail. How do you substitute yarn? It can be minefield for sure, there is a vast sea of different choices and knowing where to start can be discombobulating. However, there are a couple of resources to take away the stress of deciding which yarn to choose.

Firstly, yarnsub.com is your friend. I pop by this website every now and then. It’s great for discovering close matches and exploring alternatives. It breaks down the different elements of other yarn options so that you can see how they are similar to the yarn you’re trying to substitute.

I’ve heard that Ravelry also has an enhanced search function for checking out subs too. It’s not something I have used but it’s good to know that there are options. And to be honest, you can always go to an online yarn store and filter the specifics until you find some matches to check out.

Yarn Subbing: An Overview of the Different Elements

Let’s move away from the quick fix resources. It’s not the only way of finding what you’re looking for. I believe that learning more about yarn substitutions will give you more control over your choices. It’s also a good idea to explore how different yarns behave by playing around with lots of them. Experiment with lots of swatches, use a bit of trial and error and with time, you’ll know which ones work for you and your next big project. Of course, I know I know, this won’t be for everyone because (sadly) we can’t get our hands on all the yarn…

What are Yarn Weights?

You will see the following “weights” of yarn, from very fine to very thick: Laceweight (0), Fingering/sock (1), 4ply, Sport (2), Double Knit (3), Aran/ US Worsted (4), Chunky / US Bulky (5) and Super Chunky / US Super Bulky (6). It is not how heavy they are but how thick.

Usually, depending on the category, they are sold in 25 gram, 50 gram, 100 gram or 200 gram skeins, balls, cakes, hanks or skeins. Generally speaking, the finer the yarn, the smaller the ball.

When substituting yarn, it is best to match weights like for like: A DK for a DK, an aran for an aran. However, look at the photos below. These are all categorised as DK weights. You get variations in thickness and that will affect the size, drape, volume and texture of what you’re making. Please check the yardage to see how close they are to what you’re looking for.

Same with the aran weights below… These ones are also pretty diverse thicknesses too.

Yarn Fibres Behave Differently

Each yarn fibre acts differently and there are quite a few options out there. I don’t think I will ever have a full understanding of all the fibres. It is an enormous, far reaching subject.

The most important thing to understand about different fibres is that they will each affect things like stitch definition, drape, stretch, bounce, warmth, softness, texture, lustre, halo and durability. How important is it that your new yarn captures these elements? It’s up to you to determine which matter most.

Animal Fibres for Yarn

Wool is warm, bouncy and very durable. If you read up on animal fibres, you learn that it wicks away moisture. Yum.

I am in awe of people who compare the wools that come from all the different sheep. That’s some serious deep diving and my attention span doesn’t allow for me to absorb that level of detail! Even if I mention the word wool, well… there’s woollen spun woolly wool, softer, worsted spun merino, breeds like Texel, Bluefaced Leicester, Longwool, Corriedale, Masham…. Eep, it’s so intimidating to think that creatives out there understand how each of these types of wool behave.

Alpaca is another animal fibre, which is still warm and cosy but has a different drape and stretch. It’s one to try if you have lanolin allergies and therefore can’t use sheep based yarn. It is also stronger and warmer than sheep wool.

Then there’s lovely, fluffy mohair (my current fave!), which is often held with another yarn (see below). Mohair is a fibre from the angora goat. It is not beloved by everyone but that’s where substitution comes into play, yes?! You can get synthetic fluff too.

I have just remembered I have yak yarn in my yarn stash! There are a few more animal based fibres as well but I won’t cover them all. Silk is another. Cashmere etc…

Plant Based Yarn

If you’re not into using animal fibres for your crochet and knitting, there is a decent array of plant based fibres too. Cotton, bamboo, hemp, linen, tencel (which originates from wood) and there’s even yarn from nettle and seaweed! I think this area will grow and we will see more plant based yarns arrive on the scene.

Changing the fibre from one that’s not the same as suggested in a pattern will alter the appearance of the end item. If you use cotton instead of wool, there won’t be as much bounce. It will hang and drape differently and won’t ping back like wool can.

It’s also worth noting that some cottons, for example, are much finer than wool of the same weight. Be sure to check out the yardage on the ball band to see how it compares.

Acrylic Yarn and other Manmade Fibres

Acyrlic yarn is a cheap and popular choice. You get a lot of metres for your money. Acrylic yarn is bascially a petroleum product in that it comes from fossil fuels. Whether blended with another fibre or not, it’s a go to product for lots of crocheters and knitters. And you can get a wider range of colours because it’s easy to dye in saturated shades.

Acrylic yarn can mimic other yarns well, which is perfect for recreating lots of looks. Brushed suri alpaca is currently on trend, and you can now get brushed acrylic which looks super similar. It has the fuzzy halo and replicates the floof perfectly.

Acrylic yarn will be fine for a few washes and doesn’t need blocking for many projects. Instead, use fabric conditioner and tumble dry so it doesn’t come out squeaky. It will grow and stretch a little bit upon wearing it a few times. Usually, it’s not a drastic change but eventually, over time, acrylic becomes a bit flatter and more plasticky than its original fluffy self. That’s my experience anyway.

Other synthetic yarns are nylon (great in sock yarns) and polyamide. I shan’t deep dive on this, but each provides different properties to yarn.

Different aran weight yarns. Be careful with yarn substitution!
These are all called aran weight on their labels.

Check the Yardage

The information you need is on the ball band. Check this out so you can see if your sub is a close match in terms of how many yards or metres there are per 100 grams. The number of yards or metres per 100 grams determines the weight of the yarn (as in whether it’s 4ply, dk or aran etc).

I don’t think I’ll touch upon WPI (wraps per inch) as, I confess, I don’t use it! But I hear it’s very useful for identifying the weight of yarns. I also quite like this Ravelry chart too.

Holding Yarn Double

I’m a big fan of holding two yarns and working them together at the same time. This works especially well for fine mohair yarn that benefits from the structure of another fibre.

You can also hold two yarns together to create a different weight of yarn. If you need a particular weight of yarn but don’t have that in stash, you can substitute it by holding two lighter weight yarns together.

Rather than over explain and confuse things even more, the easiest way to find out the detailed knitty gritty is to visit a fab multi-stranded blog post by Fay of ProvenanceCraft.com.

The Wheatfields shawl is a fingering weight yarn held with laceweight merino.

Meeting Gauge

Together, all of the above has an impact on your project. They’re all intertwined. If you have taken them all into account you will very likely meet gauge when you work up a swatch. If in doubt, check out my post of getting gauge for your garments.

And ugh, yes working up a swatch is not everyone’s favourite, but it is critical if you want to guarantee a good fit when making handmade clothes. I guess, not so much if you’re making a scarf. However, spending the short amount of time on a swatch is going to be a darned sight better than making a whole sweater that doesn’t fit and/or doesn’t feel very nice.

Make the swatch, Meet the gauge.

Blocking Swatches of Yarn

Essentially, blocking means to wash or steam your woolly items and then (gently or aggressively, depending on the situation) pin out to stretch the item as it dries. It will then be fixed in its new state and this is what you’ll use to measure gauge.

Spend a few minutes to work up a swatch that measures about 15cm (6 inches) and pop it in warm water (with a dash of detergent – I use wool wash soap for my handmade garments). Rinse, blot in a towel, then pin onto foam blocking boards and wait patiently for it to dry.

Do the swatches ping back? Stay as they are? Have they become softer? Have the swatches become drapier. A top tip here is to leave the swatch a further day or two to fully relax once the pins have been taken out. It will be a truer reflection of the finished article.

Washing and air drying doesn’t work on acrylic but heat does. Heat will also “kill” acrylic or worse, melt it. Forever changed. Be careful!

Matching Yarn is Not Easy!

Phew!! I think I’ve covered most things but I’m not gonna lie, this post was much trickier to write than I thought it would be! All of the different factors (yarn weight, fibre, yardage etc) are really hard to juggle. But yarn substitution isn’t always easy and that’s what I wanted to convey. Hopefully, you have discovered some ways that you can cut corners and do a bit of cheating to find what yarn you need. I would also hope that I’ve led you through some additional layers to explore, should you want to gain more experience in yarn substitution. At least now, you know where to start?!

Z&R Crochet Podcast 103. All the 2023 WIPs!!

zeens and roger crochet podcast

Zeens and Roger Crochet Podcast

Perhaps a couple of days later than I had intended, here is episode 103 of the Zeens and Roger Crochet Podcast. In this episode it’s all about my works in progress (WIPs!). Some are a little closer to finished objects, it’s true, but I have some tweaks that mean they’re not quite ready as patterns.

Hop across to my YouTube channel to take a further look. You’ll find loads more episodes and crochet tutorials. Or you can go straight to the episode by clicking on the picture above.

crochet granny squares

Yarny Things in the Crochet Chat

Firstly, as we’re talking about WIPs in this episode, some of these patterns aren’t going to be linked because they don’t exist yet! I will be sure to let you know when they are ready.

The first thing I can link is a little bit of knitting! I’m knitting the Sophie shawl! Who isn’t?! Well, I suppose most other people have finished now but I’m still making mine. Very slowly! You can find the pattern on Ravelry.

I chatted a little bit about my old Hotchpotch granny purses. Whilst I have adapted the original design slightly, you can use my first granny stripe bag pattern as a guide. With the video tutorial and blog post, you can make either the big or small colourful, crochet purses.

After many, many years I have finally gotten round to making a large granny square blanket like the one I made for my sister twelve or thirteen years ago. It will be a mixture of large and small granny squares. This time I am using an acrylic/wool blend of yarn: Paintbox Yarns wool blend DK in thirteen shades. The original granny square blanket is pictured below.

And not linked or added here are ALL of my WIPS. I have quite a few! I talk about a crochet cowl collection, another mini granny square cowl, a crochet cardigan crochet along and a new corner to corner sweater design. And I’m sure there’s more but that will do for now!

crochet granny blanket

What WIPS for 2024?

As 2023 draws to a close, I know which works in progress I’d like to see finished first. What about you? What would you like to see most of all? Not just my WIPS but yours too?

PS. This post contains an affiliate link for the Paintbox yarn. If you happened to click on the link and buy some yarn, it means I would receive a percentage of the cost. 🙂

Cheers. x

Z&R Crochet Podcast 102. Finished Objects of 2023

Crocheting in 2023

Halloooo! How are you?! It has been a LONG time since I put together a YouTube crochet podcast but the time has come for me to pop my head in to chat about some finished objects.

There has been a lot of crochet going on this year, I’m quite surprised at how much actually. But I did cheat slightly as I thought it would be acceptable to include a few items from 2022 that you won’t have seen because I stopped podcasting about 18 months ago. Therefore, a couple of the patterns are a bit older. Hopefully, I haven’t podcasted about them before. However, please forgive me, my memory of previous episodes is hazy…

Click on the picture above or go to crochet podcast 102 HERE.

Other Podcast Business

Not only do I waffle happily about garments, shawls and bags, but there are also a few other bits and bobs that I will add here too.

First bit of current news: until the end of the month (November 23), you can receive 25% off any of my independently published crochet patterns. I added the sale to my Etsy shop and on Ravelry. At the checkout, enter the code: NOVSALE

Next up…. fancy entering a Giveaway?! I (accidentally) have two copies of Modern Granny Crochet by Iron Lamb. I don’t need two so one will be gifted to a podcast viewer. To enter, just watch episode 102! Leave a comment in the episode’s chat and your name will be popped into a hat; a winner will be picked at random. The deadline is the 5th of December. Please note that I won’t ask for any irrelevant details, all I would need is for the winner to provide a postal address, that’s all.

And my other AOB concludes with… should I do a CAL at the beginning of 2024? It would be in line with the release of my Little Fluffy Clouds cardigan pattern. And if I am super organised I would also publish She Sells Sea Shells at the same time. Therefore, the idea is to do a Cardigan CAL or a garment CAL. Is it something you’re interested in?

Crochet Patterns of the Year

Scroll down for a few photos showing some of my finished objects, however, what I will do first is list everything I chatted about so you can find patterns that are available.

  • Before I list what’s featured, please do also check out my Free Patterns Page. There are several other 2023 patterns there that I couldn’t squeeze into this episode, including a hat, a granny shawl and some easy peasy striped wrist warmers.
  • Granny Square Jumpers. I have linked to the first, colourful rainbow version. From there you can also find the other patterns where I explored different adjustments.
  • Zigzag Chevron bag. A fully lined, crochet tote bag.
  • Wildcard – my new fave, a crochet market bag pattern. The link is to Ravelry but you can find it easily on Etsy and Lovecrafts too.
  • She Sells Sea Shells featured in Inside Crochet magazine, issue 162. I will release the pattern at the beginning of 2024.
  • The Rustic Ripple Wrap was in issue 161 and at some point, I’ll release it as well. It is very similar (but not the same as) the Lorax scarf.
  • Riley 2 is a bright and colourful, super chunky sweater. Find it HERE.
  • Sweety inspired Milis featured in issue 4 of Moorit magazine. It’s now available on Etsy and Ravelry. The idea for the combo of stitches came from my Mixtape Medley blanket.
  • The Barton Hap was commissioned for John Arbon Textiles Annual 3. I am immensely proud of this design. I pushed myself out of comfort zones for this one and I am very glad that I did!
  • I wrote a post for different crochet ribbing options. you’ll find a link to the video tutorial in that post too.
barton hap shawl

Let me know what you think? How has your 2023 been? Did you get much crochet completed?

For more crochet good stuff, it’s definitely worth following me on Instagram, I am there pretty often. I also love a bit of Pinterest so if you’re after crochet ideas, then you know where to find me. And finally, should I make more of an effort with Facebook, what do you reckon?!


5 Christmas Crochet Patterns

Christmas crochet bundle of patterns

What Will You Crochet For Christmas?

A couple of years ago I put together a Christmas crochet bundle of festive patterns. I did not make enough noise about it and it didn’t sell very well at all. At no point did I plan a fun publication party for it and I didn’t shout it from the rooftops. I am a silly sausage.

Essentially, I thought it would be a lovely idea to put together all of my Christmas crochet designs in one place so that there was all kinds of yuletide inspiration all in one place. Some of the patterns are available for free, you can find them in my Free Patterns page. A couple of the ideas are paid crochet patterns but in this bundle you can get them collectively for a bargain price!

Buy the Christmas Crochet bundle on Ravelry!! Or, if you don’t use Rav, you can find the bundle in my Etsy shop too. Up until the 30th of November you can receive a 25% discount with the code NOVSALE. Enter the code at the checkout.

This code applies to all of my patterns on Ravelry and Etsy at the moment, not just this bundle, so please have a look and see if there are any other crochet patterns that you fancy. Thanks!

Take a look at the Crochet Christmas collection of patterns below…

Cosy crochet socks

Easy Crochet Slippers Socks

A popular pattern of mine is for some very cosy crochet socks. I created a helpful “how to” video tutorial as well as the written sock pattern on the blog. The original pair weren’t festive but it is super easy to crochet a holly motif to pop onto a plain pair of winter white socks. In fact, my feet are cold right now so I think I’m going to dig these out and put them on. It’s definitely acceptable to wear Christmas socks in November, right?

C2C sweater pattern

Simple C2C Festive Lights Sweater

As someone decided to tell me on Pinterest recently, it’s not a very Christmassy jumper, is it?! Hmm, I know it isn’t full blown Christmas style but so what?! It’s a gentle nod to colourful Christmas lights against a snowy backdrop. I like the subtle seasonal hints of this crochet sweater design. Not everyone wants Christmas to be a punch in the face.

Plus, the PDF does have an additional Christmas themed C2C design!

Find the blog post about my C2C Christmas jumper here. You’ll find a link to the video tutorial in the same place. I have tried to cover everything in the vid to help you make your own C2C jumper!

Crochet Santa Hats!

christmas crochet bunting

This fun festive pattern has a real life-size granny stitch hat design alongside its mini-me version of Santa hat bunting. I love it and the bunting is festooned upon our walls every year. These lil crochet Santa hats don’t have to be a garland, take a peek at my tree in the corner of the photo above and you can see a hat hanging from the spruce’s branches.

Is it too early to start making paper chains yet? They look so lovely with the hat bunting!

Granny stitch crochet christmas hat

The life-size version of my granny stitch Santa hat was modelled by my baby (who does not look this young anymore!). This Christmas crochet hat fits most grown up heads too, not just kids. It has been a few years since I designed this chunky hat for festive heads and it is still going strong. We fight over who gets to wear it to which Christmas party! Perhaps I should make more….?

Christmas Crochet Baubles

I think these granny stitch baubles are my favourite! They are easy and very fast to make. Before you know it, you will have made a treeful! Every year I am tempted to make more crochet Christmas baubles but I resist. I really don’t need more, we have loads! How many would you make?

As well as being part of the bundle, these colourful decorations are also a Christmas Bauble video tutorial.

5 Christmas Crochet Ideas

What do you think? Hopefully you like these Christmas craft ideas as much as I do. Fingers crossed, you also think that having them as a bundle is a good idea too, so let’s have an overview…

I’ve thrown together a collection of my favourite festive crochet designs all in one document. A Festive collection of Christmas Crochet patterns. In this bundle you will find:
● Cosy Slipper Socks in 3 sizes
● Chunky Granny Santa Hat
● Mini Santa Hat Bunting
● Colourful Baubles
● Christmas C2C Sweater in 9 different sizes

As well as the written patterns, there are also video tutorials for the C2C jumper, colourful baubles and cosy slipper socks, which can also be found for free on my blog. The Granny Hat and hat bunting are only available elsewhere as a paid pattern. It is bargain bundle for quick Christmas makes!

Don’t forget to check out my other Free Patterns, plus I have even more patterns in my Ravelry store. And if you’re not a Rav user, then I also have an Etsy shop (Oh, gosh, and Lovecrafts and Ribblr, I have all the fingers in all the pies!)

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Crochet Christmas!

Crochet Zigzag Bag

Zigzag crochet bag from Zeens and Roger

Colourful Crochet Bag

A few years ago I made a colourful crochet zigzag bag using all of my yarny stash busting powers. My new bag used a chevron stitch and it immediately jumped out at me as a bag that other crocheting peeps would enjoy making too. However, I had made my bag out of acrylic yarn and I quickly learned that acrylic is not my favourite yarn for crochet bags.

The next photo is the original crochet zigzag bag and it has taken me three years to revisit and remake it in a more appropriate yarn: cotton. The colours are so pretty; the rainbow of different hues definitely had to stay. In fact, the design itself is very simple so I have only tweaked it slightly for the new iteration.

crochet chevron bag

Would you Like to Make a Zigzag Crochet Bag?!

Hopefully, you are stopping by to find out how to crochet your own colourful bag. Well, I am pleased to tell you that, you are very much in the right place. Welcome to zigzag town!

There isn’t much of a story to tell with this design, I just wanted to use a stitch I’d found a long time ago when making a baby blanket for my youngest son. I’ve just had a quick look, I wrote a blog post about my crazy chevron blanket here. It’s from a blanket pattern by Meet Me at Mike’s called the Zali Zigzag.

This kind of colourful crochet was perfect as a “pick up and put down” project, something easy to work on, just a couple of rows at a time. Also, great for telly watching with a kitty at your feet.

So let’s crack on, shall we?

Making a crochet zigzag bag

Make Your Own Chevron Bag

Crochet Video Tutorial or Written Pattern?

Below is lots of lovely written detail about how to crochet a zigzag bag and add a sewn lining. A pattern, if you will! However, I have also put together a video tutorial too. Watch my zigzag bag turial HERE.

I would have liked to include more sewing machine action in the video but as I watched back the recordings, I spotted toothpaste splattered down my t-shirt. Mind you, I’m less embarrassed about that than I am about some of the sewing techniques I employ. Watching back the vids and it is plain to see that I am very much an amateur sewist!! Please don’t judge my weird logic, sewing is not my forte!

What Yarn to Use for a Crochet Bag?

In the summer I purchased a whole selection of colourful cotton so I could experiment with lots of ideas for bags, totes and purses. So far so good. I have made this zigzag bag and another granny hotchpotch, which I’ve only just finished. (The original version of the Granny Hotchpotch is also made with acrylic, which started to look tatty after a couple of outings, acrylic also warps out of shape, whereas cotton is sturdier and longer lasting). For bags, cotton is my go-to. For this pattern, it’s all Paintbox cotton that I bought from Lovecrafts.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been very clever and I didn’t weigh how much I used. I am so sorry! The thing is, I get so excited about making the thing that I went straight ahead and completed it before I even thought about yarn weights. Apologies. However, use what you have. If you twisted my arm, I’d guess at a very approximate 200 grams?

Colourful Crochet

First and foremost, when it comes to the colours you use, this is a crochet project that you can really have fun with. I had a basket of colourful cotton double knit to randomly pluck out shades to use.

There is definitely less than a ball of each colour here. But I used 20, or thereabout, colours so that’s not a surprise. I threw in all the hues; ugly, clashy, pretty, complementary. If you’re unsure about how to do this, check out How to Choose Colours in Your Crochet.

I might miss out one or two shades here or accidentally have gotten one or two wrong, but I think I used:

  • Rose Red, Antique Pink, Vintage Heather, Kingfisher, Coffeebean, Buttercup or Mustard (Eeep, I can’t tell!
  • Marine, Dusty Rose, Lime, Pansy Purple, Raspberry, Washed Teal, Slate Green, Bubblegum Pink, Elephant,
  • Spearmint, Bloody Orange, Rich Teal, Pale Lilac, Dolphin

Adding a Lining to your Crochet Bag

Adding a lining to your crochet bag doesn’t have to be rocket science, I promise. I have basic sewing skills and that’s all you need. A lining will reinforce your bag and make it much sturdier to boot. It also does a great job of hiding the stitches where the handles get sewn to the bag. And, if you’re using them, you also need a decent lining to affix the magnetic clasps. Fear not, I show you how to do this in the video tutorial for my Zigzag bag.

The sewing is all in straight lines and your bag will look neat and tidy. It might also end up looking super professional! You can sew by hand if you don’t have a sewing machine.

My Lining Technique

I make two pockets of fabric and add medium interfacing to one of them. One pocket sits inside the other. I hide all stitches and clasp backs sandwiched between the pockets.

I recommend using iron-on interfacing as I got into a fiddly pickle with the sew-in stuff. Don’t be tempted to add heavy interfacing or use fabric that’s thick because at some point you’ll be cursing yourself and your poorly fingers when hand stitching on the handles. (you have to wriggle the needle through the fabric layers so get the sharpest needle you can that also has an eye big enough to fit the cotton yarn through). Crikey, it’s all a bit of a juggling act!

What would make life easier for you (and I’m not sure why I didn’t do this), is to treat the linings as the separate entities that they are. For example, attach the magnetic clasps to the inner lining before you pop it inside the outer lining. Or, how about you place the outer lining into the bag to stitch on the handles without the inner lining going along for the ride?! I persistently treated both pockets like they were glued together. They were not. Lesson learned.

Crochet Zigzag Bag Pattern


The main body of my bag measures 28 x 36 cm. 11 x 14 inches.

What you Need to Make a Zigzag Bag:

  • 3mm hook. Or a hook that creates a tight gauge. You don’t want floppy zigzags!
  • Cotton DK in lots of colours. Approx 200 grams. I used Paintbox but other dk cotton would be excellent as well.
  • Fabric lining and interfacing. Plus all the sewing gubbins that goes with this.
  • Magnetic clasp if you fancy attaching one.
  • Bag handles. I got mine from Amazon. Etsy always has good ones as well. Or, upcycle some from an existing bag that’s no longer used.
  • A needle that is pointy with a largish eye for sewing the bag handles.

Pattern Notes

  • Don’t forget, the Zigzag bag video tutorial is HERE.
  • Before you begin, please note that the pattern uses a UK dc stitch, which is the same as a US single crochet.
  • dc2tog is crocheting two dc stitches together (essentially, a decrease). In this pattern it’s only the first 2 stitches and the last 2 stitches of every row.
  • As you work the following pattern, change colours in this order:
    • Six rows of one colour
    • 3x two rows of different colours
    • 4 rows of another colour
    • 2x two rows of different colour.

Crochet Zigzag Pattern

Row 1: Chain 101, turn.
Row 2: Starting in 2nd chain from the hook, dc2tog, 5dc, 3dc in next st, *7dc, miss 2 sts, 7dc, 3dc in next st; rep from * to last 7 sts, 5dc, dc2tog, turn.
Rows 3 – 120: ch1 (does not count as a stitch), working in the back loops only dc2tog, 5dc, 3dc in next st, *7dc, miss 2 sts, 7dc, 3dc in next st; rep from * to last 7 sts, 5dc, dc2tog, turn.

Fasten off and, with a needle and yarn, sew the two short ends together. Make sure the fabric is folded with right sides together. I talk about this in the video tutorial but one side is definitely better looking than the other side.

With the piece still inside out, work around the bottom and tie each end firmly together with its next dor neighbour. Then, using these ends, sew the bottom of the bag closed. Turn right side out to begin working a few rounds for the top of the bag.

For the following pattern, remember that I’m still working in UK terms, a UK htr is a US hdc.
Rnd 1: Attach yarn to the top of the bag and chain 1, 1dc in the end of each row around, join with a slip stitch and do not turn. Don’t change colour after this round, wait until you have completed Rnd 2. Then, change colour as often as you like.
Rnds 2 – 5: 1ch, htr in each stitch around, join with a slip stitch, do not turn.
Fasten off and sew in ends.

Use the crochet zigzag stitch to make a bag
A spot of car crochet on my way to a very sunny Wales at the beginning of September.

Lining Your Bag with Fabric

The next few paragraphs are a nutshell version of how to add a lining to a crochet bag. I show you each step in the Zigzag bag video tutorial, which will help if the following words are nowt but gobbledegook.

Measure Twice, Cut Once!

I like to make two pockets for the lining and place one inside the other. The outside lining pocket and the inner pocket are made in the same way, to the same measurements so that they are the same size. It’s a good idea to add interfacing to the outside fabric before you begin. The inner pocket will be the one that you see when you look inside your bag. I like to choose a prettier fabric for this.

Both pieces of fabric (for the outside and inside pockets) need to be bigger than your bag by half an inch on both sides (for seam allowance) and twice as long plus 2x hem length. I like a deep hem of at least 3 inches, which is hidden on the inside. Deep hems create reinforcement for the handles and clasps on both pockets respectively.

Fold a piece of fabric in half with the right sides facing each other. Sit your bag on top to use as a guide and draw onto the fabric where the seams need to be up (at the bag sides). Sew down the sides, press with an iron and press a hem in place. If using a sewing machine, top stitch the hem as well.

Repeat for the other piece of fabric. Check that both bag pockets are the same size. Press. Turn the inner lining inside out and press again. Place inside the outer pocket.

Pin everything in place and decide on where you want the handles to be. Attach those to the outside of the bag, ensuring that as you sew, you also stitch through the interfaced outer lining. You then add your magnetic clasps to the inner lining. Neatly hand stitch to the crochet bag ensuring your fabric lining doesn’t poke out over the top of the bag.

Adding a magnetic clasp

Phew, I find that writing about sewing is much harder than writing about crochet! And I haven’t even mentioned how to add the clasps to the bag yet!

Attaching Magnetic Clasps onto a Bag

This is where I get the ruler out. The clasps need to meet in the middle and fit nicely into each other without making everything else wonky.

What you need to do is find the very centre of the inner pocket and mark it on the wrong side (do this on both sides). I think it looks good to do this an inch (2.5 cm) from the top as you don’t want the clasps at the very top of the bag. Clasps come with little metal washers, so let’s use these to help mark where to place everything. Pop them in the centre and an inch down (essentially, where you marked the wrong side). Does that look alright? With a pen, draw little lines within the two vertical spaces of the washer.

These pics from an older bag project where I chose 1.5cm rather than an inch . Place them where you think is best.

By the way, inside the hem I also tucked in a couple of small, additional pieces of interfacing. It give the clasps something to really grab hold of and keep them firmly in place.

Now, double check that you’re happy with where you placed the markings because you need to make little slices into the fabric of the inner lining. I used a sharp seam ripper. This is a measure twice, cut once type of scenario, OK?! The little slices are where you marked the lines. Poke the legs of the clasps through and bend to close. Please poke them through from the right side so they are on the correct side.

Eww, that’s even more uncomfortable than writing sewing instructions. I hope it’s clear.

Zigzag crochet bag

A Finished Crochet Zigzag Bag!

Ooh lala! What do you think of my crochet Zigzag bag?!? I hope I haven’t frightened you away with all that sewing. I think it sounds worse when written down, don’t you? In practice, it’s actually very quick and straightforward to add a sewn lining to a crochet bag. It makes such a difference though and it really is well worth the effort.

If you have made it this far and you’ve enjoyed this free pattern, please feel free to buy me a cup of tea (or a bottle of wine?!) by supporting me on Ko-Fi. Also, don’t forget to check out my other Free Crochet Patterns here on the blog. And you’re welcome to check out my other designs in my Ravelry store and on Etsy too.

Thanks ever so much. Cheers. x

PS, this post contains an affiliate link for the yarn.

Free Crochet Bag Pattern. Zigzag bag

The Best Crochet Ribbing Stitches

Crochet Ribbing Stitches

I’ve been a crocheter for almost fourteen years and I think I can say that I have finally found crochet ribbing stitches that I actually, genuinely love! And no, there’s no single crochet in the back loop only here.

You can use crochet ribbing stitches in all kinds of projects. For the most part, I use them in the obvious scenario of adding a crochet edging to my designs. So we’re talking: cuffs on mittens, waistbands on jumpers & cardis, the brim of a hat or perhaps as fun edgings on a shawl or scarf.

Below I share my thoughts about my faves and their written patterns. I have also put together a video tutorial for YouTube: My Favourite Crochet Ribbing.

For the stitch patterns I used DK yarn and a 4mm hook. All swatches start with 24 stitches.

What I’m not going to do in this post is to talk about Join As You Go ribbing. I think I’ll save that for another day; it is a subject all by itself.

Favourite Crochet Ribbing

Ok, so in this blog post I am going to share my favourite crochet ribbing patterns. I will not share all the rib patterns out there because there are quite a few. Every time I discover a new stitch I will always try it to see if I like it. I know I don’t really like double crochet (US sc) in the back loop as I don’t think it’s the best ribbing. Neither am I keen on htr (US hdc) in the back loop only (blo). It’s not stretchy enough, it hasn’t got decent definition and it doesn’t look very rib-like. *shrugs*

However, I do have a soft spot for front and back post stitches. I think they can be really effective in a garment design or accessory. But I get it. Those raised post stitches don’t always fit other design elements and there are excellent alternatives which I love and use regularly. Luckily, for all of us, there’s lots of choice, which is awesome.

In terms of crocheting garments and accessories, I’m after a certain look in my ribbing that will complement the rest of the item and look fabulous too. If the stitch offers fab stitch definition and a bit of ba-doing, then yes, I’ll take some of that please!

Two Categories of Ribbing

I would split my faves into two categories of crochet ribbing. One, it’s all about getting the look using textured front and back stitches worked around the post of the stitches below. These are simple to work up and great for beginner friendly crochet makes.

The second category is about manipulating rows of stitches so that the tops of each row is pushed forward when the next row is worked, to become the rib itself. That’s why the htr (US hdc) is used so often as it has three top loops to use rather than the usual two.

I often start my ribbing with Foundation Starts as it is a more elastic technique than working into chains. Don’t be scared of starting your crochet this way, it’s awesome. I have a video tutorial on How to crochet a foundation start and it covers the main stitches: dc, htr & tr (US sc, hdc &dc).

Using back and front post stitches for crochet ribbing.

Post Stitches

I’ll get these out of the way first as post stitch ribbing is well known but seeing as I really enjoy using them in my design work I cannot leave them out of my collection of fave ribbing stitches. In the UK, they might be referred to as “raised stitches” as well.

More often than not, you would work these stitches in the same direction as the rest of your work.

Essentially, to create the textural quality that looks kinda like ribbing, standard treble (US dc) stitches are worked around the front and back post of a stitch rather than in the top of it.

Look at the picture above. There are three swatches to show post stitches acting as a rib. I like to refer to them as 1×1, 2×2, and 3×3.

  • 1×1: worked as a repeat of 1FPtr &1BPtr (US dc) over a multiple of 2 stitches.
  • 2×2: worked as a rep of 2FPtr & 2BPtr over a multiple of 4.
  • 3×3: worked as a rep of 3FPtr & 3BPtr over a multiple of 6.
  • You get the idea……

I find that post stitches look daintier and therefore more effective with finer weights of yarn. This is entirely subjective but it’s worth bearing in mind. Try out a few swatches and see what you think.

Take a look at post stitch ribbing in action….

We have See My Vest, my granny striped tank top. January Hues, a cosy hat. Companions, a cowl and wrist warmer set. And then there are the Bifrost mittens, gorgeous chunky rainbow stripes, and Dreckly crochet mittens, which kick-started an obsession with mittens and wrist warmers! I’ve linked these to Etsy but you can also find them on Ravelry as well.

Post Stitch Pattern

Pattern Notes

Here is an example of the pattern for working a 2×2 post crochet rib worked in the round.

  • Rnd 1 (r/s): 32ftr, join with sl st to form a circle, right side facing out. 
  • Rnd 2 (r/s): 1ch (does not count as a st here & throughout), *2FPtr, 2BPtr in next st; rep from * around, join with sl st, do not turn.
  • Rnds 3 – 6: Rep Rnd 2.

Simple Front Third Loop

And so, we move on from post stitches…

The rest of these smashing stitch patterns are, most likely, worked perpendicular to your main piece of crochet.

Simple Front Third Loop. I’ve used this easy stitch in a few projects now and it can be really effective. It’s for days when anything with a slip stitch is too much like hard work. I find it intriguing that a lot of people choose to work the stitches in the back loop rather than the loop that sits at the front of an hdc. There is definitely a difference, which you’ll notice in the video tutorial and in the pics below.

The left shows htr back loop only (blo), the right, shows the stitches when worked in the front third loop. It creates much better stitch definition and squatter, compact stitches.

Note that the photos were taken at different times of day and the swatch on the right has two extra rows.

The anatomy of the half treble (US dc) stitch is that it has 3 loops on the top rather than the usual 2. Instead of working under the usual 2 loops that form a “V” at the top of the stitch, insert the hook into the horizontal loop that sits at the front of the stitch below that “V”.  This pushes the top of the stitch forward to produce a rib-like effect, creating the neat linear wedges.

As I said, I’ve used this in a few projects because it’s simple yet effective. My stripey sweater, Riley Too not only uses it for the cuffs and waistband but it’s also used as a feature at the boat neckline, which I think looks great! It is really effective as the button band in my Perfect Cardigan and my free recipe for a crochet JW Anderson cardigan.

Front Third Loop Pattern

Note, again I’m using UK terms in the pattern here. Just swap the htr for hdc and voila!

  • Row 1: Work as many fhtr stitches as desired, turn.
  • Row 2: 1ch (does not count as a st here & throughout), htr in front third loop to end, turn.
  • Rows 3 – however many you like: Rep Row 2 ending on an even number if joining ends together.

Using Slip Stitches for Crochet Ribbing

Ok, so we’re moving into more fiddly territory here but it is well worth the effort. This is where the stitches are, relatively speaking, more recent for me so I don’t have quite so many photo examples of my own work.

Slip stitches in back loops do a great job of pushing the stitches forward and create the most springy fabric out of all the crochet ribbing stitches. The important thing here is to work the stitches quite loosely. Wriggling a hook into teeny stitches that are too tight is what put me off slip stitch ribbing for years. Another trick is not to pull on the individual stitches once you’ve worked them.

I often see slip stitches made in two clunky parts, especially when worked slowly. Practice a few times to become comfortable making deft, singular movements with the hook. This kind of swift movement definitely helps achieve the right tension.

Hdc With Slip Stitches

htr and slip stitches for ribbing

In my green jumper (sorry, no pattern!) I used a ribbing stitch that I first used in the Color Pop Sweater from My Square Hat (below). I used it for the cuffs and waistband but, funnily enough, I used a htr (US hdc) back loop only for the cowl neck to ensure a loose drape. I’d be tempted to make the cowl with a htr front 3rd loop if I revisited this crochet sweater.

Color pop sweater with htr and slip stitches for ribbing

Htr and Slip Stitch Ribbing Pattern

  • Row 1: Work a row of ftr stitches, turn.
  • Row 2: 1ch (does not count as a st here & throughout), sl st in BLO in each st along, turn.
  • Row 3: 1ch, htr in blo along, turn.
  • Rows 4 – How ever many you like: Rep Rows 2 & 3. If joining in a round, make your last row a slip stitch row.

Yarn Over Slip Stitch

The ultimate, best ever crochet ribbing! It looks so good and is lovely and springy and bouncy. I first discovered this stitch at the beginning of last year when I made Ana D’s Rockmore cardigan (note that the sleeves are all yarn over slip stitches. Every row. Looks good, hey?!). It’s used on the button band and it looks Uh.may.zinG! I went on to use it in my crochet Granny Sweaters.

For such a small change from htr to a yarn over slip stitch (also referred to as an htr sl st (US hdc sl st), I am gobsmacked. Essentially, you just yarn over before the slip stitch is made. But this one minor change really adds extra spring, squish and the magic ba-doing. I love it! And, it’s not as fiddly as if it was solely working regular slip stitches. We have a winner!!

Take a look at the two photos above. It is the same swatch in both pics showing the “wrong” side on the left and the “right” side on the right. Both sides look great to be honest, but it’s the one on the right where you could argue that it looks more traditionally rib-like.

YO slip stitch ribbing on the Rockmore cardigan

Yarn Over Slip Stitch Pattern

Let’s work into a chain for this one. Work as many chains as you like.

  • Row 1: Working in back bumps, YO sl st in second ch from hook, YO sl st to end, turn. [you’ll have one stitch fewer than your original chain].
  • Row 2: ch1 (does not count as a st here & throughout), sl st BLO along to end, turn.
  • Row 3: ch1, YO slst BLO, turn.
  • Rep Rows 2 & 3 to end. End of a slip stitch row if joining the ends together.

And there we are, all my faves in one place!! Remember that you can hop over to youTube to watch my tutorial on The Best Crochet Ribbing stitches here. Listen out for the cute cat sneeze…

Which is your favourite crochet ribbing? Let me know in the comments.

If you like any of the patterns pictured, check out my Free Patterns Page, my Ravelry store, and take a look at Etsy shop, and Lovecrafts store.

Cheers! x

Ten Crochet Bag Patterns

crochet bag patterns

Crochet Bags

If you didn’t know already, I am a massive fan of crochet bags. I love quick crochet projects that are not only fun to make, they are practical too. I love love love crochet items that have a real use. And a bag really fits into this category!

Without really trying, a crochet bag is reusable, it doesn’t take up too much room and is easy to wash (cotton works best). A crochet bag also make the perfect handmade gift. You can whip one up in no time and the recipient will have totally unique crochet to enjoy.

Some of the patterns below are free on my blog, check out my Free Crochet Patterns page. Or I have added links to buy some of the patterns.

Wildcard, Crochet Market Bag

First up is my latest design: a crochet market bag that is easy to make and looks pretty fancy. This is Wildcard, named because the mesh and bobble stitches remind me of tennis. Bobbles for tennis balls? The lacy section as the net? Perhaps I should have launched it for Wimbledon…

This kind of handmade market bag is made all in one piece. It starts out as an easy square shape, which is then transformed into a gathered holdall using a few basic crochet stitches.

You can find Wildcard on Ravelry, or in my Etsy shop and, also Lovecrafts.

Granny Market Bag

Crochet Market Bag Pattern

My Wildcard market bag is super similar to this slouchy Granny Market Bag (available on Ravelry, Etsy & Lovecrafts). This crochet design came to life after I was contacted by a crochet magazine asking for a simple, colourful shopping bag idea. There wasn’t much time so I knew I needed ideas that would work up quickly. This bag style fits the bill perfectly.

My favourite design element is that granny stripes are worked using the corner to corner method, which means that the stripes are on the diagonal. It’s modern crochet at its finest!

This granny stripe market bag is larger than Wildcard, with deliberately loose stitches to give it drape. I use this bag when it’s my turn to go on my weekly shop; it fits loads in it! You could always go down a hook size to tighten up the stitches if preferred.

granny crochet bag

Granny Stripe Tote Bag

Whilst we’re on the subject of a granny stitch crochet bag, do you like my free pattern for a colourful hotchpotch tote? This one can made in all sorts of sizes. Check out my blog post on How to make your own Granny Stripe Purse. It also has an accompanying video tutorial for a lil purse size version too.

corner to corner crochet bag

C2C Hotchpotch Bag

Another brilliant stitch that works fantastically well for a crochet bag is the corner to corner (c2c) stitch, aka the diagonal box stitch. Find this C2C crochet bag here.

If you know how to crochet the C2C stitch you can easily make this bag. This one is more of a recipe than a pattern because C2C is the same no matter the project. However, I have lots of C2C projects on YouTube if you need a bit of guidance.

Granny Crochet bag

Another Drapey Market Bag

Are you starting to see a familiar theme?! Yes yes, there are lots of granny patterns here but I make no apologies for that. It just so happens that granny is a very versatile stitch and looks great in crochet bags.

Check out my pattern for a round bottomed granny market bag, here. It’s another crochet bag that I have made again and again. You absolutely cannot have too many crochet bags!

Small cotton crochet purse

Mini Cotton Coin Purse

This is a teeny cotton purse that I put together so I could demonstrate how to add a zipper to a crochet bag. I also line the crochet purse with fabric too so it’s a useful tutorial for crocheters. This one is from my early days as a designer but it’s still effective and helpful.

Retro Granny Square Bag

Handmade Project Bag

Wahey, it’s another granny project (still not sorry!). This time it’s using the ubiquitous granny square. I created two video tutorials for this cute tote. One video demonstrates the Join as You Go Technique (JAYG) so you can crochet the squares together rather than fiddle about with a sewing needle. The second tutorial shows you how to turn a rectangle of crochet fabric into this retro inspired crochet bag.

Pop across to the granny square bag blog post for the tutorial links.

Small Cotton Tote

This crochet bag is a bit different to the others. The single crochet ribbing with the shell clusters are a lovely contrast that create an impactful crochet design. The bag in this pattern is small enough for kids but you can increase the size if you prefer.

The pattern shares the stitch multiples used so you can play around with different sizes. I called it We Don’t Need Roads as it’s a sort of sister project to a shlanketty shawl I designed with the same motifs, that crochet shawl is named Road to Nowhere.

kids crochet bag

A Crochet Bag for Kids

The last Granny bag (I’m obsessed!).

I created this petite crochet granny stitch bag to film the making of video tutorial. I didn’t want to make the large version as the process would have taken much much longer. Therefore, boom, new crochet pattern!

I think of this as a great crochet bag for kids. Find the video tutorial here.

One Skein Net Crochet Bag

Finally, here’s another from my early days of crochet design. This easy crochet market bag pattern is perfect for scrunching up in your pocket and whipping out, ready to add a few bits on a small shop.

Looks can be deceiving with this crochet bag. You wouldn’t believe how many messages I’ve received over the years telling me one skein is DEFINITELY not enough to crochet a market bag. My response is always the same: Yes, it is! I can fit a bottle of soda water, a bag of sugar, pack of mint leaves, 3 limes and a small bottle of rum in this bag. So there.

Too Many Crochet Bags?

In my opinion, you can never have too many crochet bags. Be it a tote, market bag, purse, or other style, bags are useful and tidy away to nothing. I have them in my car, in my pockets, tucked away in my other bags, ready to grab as and when they’re needed. Phew, I admit it, I’m a bag lady!

Which ones would you make?

Quick Crochet Granny Sweater

A crochet Granny sweater from Zeens and Roger

Obsessed with Crocheting Granny Sweaters

Yep, I got the yarn and hooks out again to work up a third Granny Square Sweater! I have a funny feeling that it won’t be the last one I crochet either.

I used the notes and charts based on my first (stashbusting colour fest granny) and second (blue and black mohair) Granny Square sweater.

Crochet Granny Sweater by Zeens and Roger

Why Crochet Another Sweater?

Each jumper builds on the last. Some people sketch a lot, swatch religiously, and try everything out first before finalising a design. Eh, yes I could do that too and sometimes I do but I still have the impulse to get an idea out of my head, turning it into a physical thing as quickly as possible. In this case I have had to crochet each sweater to see how I can adapt the recipe to make it better and/or different.

I will often make something again and again. I find it an interesting challenge to analyse why a design isn’t quite right. I enjoy tweaking the fabric, tension, shaping etc to what affect that has. It’s how one gets better at the thing they do, isn’t it? It’s the same reason I come back to my fave sitches again and again too.

I love love love my two other granny jumpers but I want to try all the things. It isn’t only about striving for perfection but also seeing how different fibres and colours work together. Isn’t it fascinating how a few changes and adjustments can create a brand new look?

Therefore, this time I wondered what a looser stitch with block colours would look like. Influenced by some leftover stash from a recent scarf project, off I went and Granny Sweater No. 3 was born.

Granny sweater. Crochet your own granny square jumper

Granny Sweater No. 3

The first two blog posts have extensive information about how to crochet a granny square jumper so I am not going to do that here. The first blog post (and accompanying video tutorial) is all about crochet sweater basics, with a little bit of optional maths thrown in for making it in the size you want. Then the second post is all about how I made adjustments to take my granny sweater to the next level. There are crochet charts too, which help with things like sleeve shaping and shoulder tabs.

Adjusting My Crochet Sweater

The first two sweaters use aran weight yarn and so does this one. I used Stylecraft Grace, which feels quite fine for an aran weight yarn. I also went up to a 6mm hook, therefore my gauge is different. 10cm only gives me 6.5 rows here. I used a larger hook as I wanted a looser, drapier fabric. As Grace is a light, fluffy yarn and I think it deserves a floaty kind of treatment.

Because my tension created bigger clusters my main squares are only 12 rounds. You would not believe how quickly this sweater worked up. So fast! Front and back weigh approx 75 grams each which, in jumper terms is nothing.

The shoulder tabs and sides are worked in a very similar fashion to jumper No.2. Tweak them as you see fit.

More About the Yarn

Stylecraft Grace only comes in 8 colours. When there is a limited range it can be quite nice because most of the agonising over which colours to choose is gone. I used Ocean for the main body as that’s what I had most of. Therefore, I had zero concerns about playing yarn chicken. The sleeves are Long Grass, and I used Petals, Hibiscus and Storm for the ribbing.

I bought the Ocean and Long Grass shades last winter when I had planned to crochet a jumper for one of the kids. It never happened… The other shades are left over from a recent commission that’s coming out in a few months.

I like it. It’s less than a fiver per 100 grams and seeing as I’m a big fan of mohair, I like that it has 10% mohair mixed with (5%) wool and (85%) acrylic. This Granny sweater would be a good project if you’re tempted to try mohair for the first time. It’s one that’s not too arduous to frog if you need to (but still a bit of a bugger, so don’t get too smug).

The Main Body

The Front has stripes of granny clusters added to either side of the square. I added four rows on each side. A square of 12 rounds plus 4+4 rows of stripes in total creates a (blocked) width of 50cm (20 inches).

The back needs additional height as well as the width, so work around three sides of the main square here. I did three rounds and then added just one stripe on either side.

I know I’m glossing over this quite quickly but there’s more detail about these adjustments in the Blue and Black jumper post. Hopefully, I can support the words with this basic diagram too:

Shoulders Tabs

The front panel has five rows of shaping to create the tabs and rounded neckline.

For the Back I only added two rows for the tabs. It doesn’t need much at the back, just a bit so the jumper hugs the top of your shoulders rather than riding up the nape of the neck.

Granny stripe sleeves
I pinned out and steam blocked my pieces before sewing together.

Granny Stripe Sleeves

My sleeves measure 51cm long (20 inches approx) with an upper arm depth of 22cm (8.5 inches). The wrist circumference is 22cm as well. Oh, and my sleeves only weigh 53 grams each.

The change here (from my original version) is that the increases are more frequent. There are only 26 rows of granny stripes (plus the foundation row of US single crochet) for this jumper’s sleeves. I wanted to see obvious shaping and the way to do that was to work increases every three rows.

To be honest, I also fancy some batwing style sleeves too, I wonder if I’d achieve this by increasing every row? Hmm…Granny Sweater No.4 anyone??

Anyway, I began with a foundation row of 28 stitches (multiples of 3 +1). I am not a fan of working into chains so this is a crochet foundation start, for which I have a lovely video tutorial!

Crochet Ribbing

Due to the loose drape created by using a 6mm hook, I went down to a 5mm for the ribbing. I didn’t want floppy cuffs and neck! I don’t think anybody does.

Unlike my colourful stashbusting version you’ll notice that I added the ribbing at the end here. It doesn’t really matter which order you do it in. However, if you do it at the end and mess it up, at least you can frog it at this stage without unpicking the entire thing.

You’ll also notice in the picture below that I’ve worked a foundation in the same colour as the ribbing. It looks sooooo much neater when you do this.

I have used my fave ribbing again, which is demonstrated in the video tutorial, around 44 minutes in.

The best crochet ribbing

Look at the image below. Around the neckline, I actually worked one round of US sc stitches in the main body colour, followed by a round of the ribbing colour. This is about little finishing touches to ensure it looks tidy.

Making a granny sweater
Trying it on for size!

Make a Sweater Lickety Split

And that’s about it. I think this one is a winner. I cannot tell you how satisfying Granny sweater No.3 was to make. There are so many things going for it.

  • The yarn is a bargain and you don’t need loads.
  • It is a crochet sweater that’s ridiculously quick to make.
  • It’s bang on trend. Crochet, especially granny crochet, is totes down with the kidz.
  • The boxy nature means you don’t have to get a perfect fit.
  • …Voila!
  • Now you can practice yoga and fall over a bit…

I hope you’ve found these blog posts useful. WIthin them you have the means to make the perfect sweater just for you. As much as I love an official, graded pattern I also love making things up as I go. The idea behind these posts is to encourage you to do the same. Embrace winging it and let me know what you think!

Cheers! x

10 Tips for Starting a Small Creative Business

Zeens and Roger. My small creative business is crochet design.

Get Yourself a “Side Hustle”

I have a Small Creative Business as a crochet designer. It’s called Zeens and Roger (two of my nicknames). To some this is considered a “side hustle” but to me, it’s the part time job that I love. It’s all of my own making and, don’t tell my boss but, I prefer it to my real, non-crochet job (with its guaranteed income).

People I know consider my woolly obsession to be more of a hobby. But if I can earn an income from it, albeit a relatively small one, to me it is a bonafide job. It feeds the yarn habit too. Money goes back into the industry, supporting other small creative businesses, like indie dyers, who I give all my money to so I can buy my body weight in colourful skeins of merino.

Check out my post on how I became a crochet designer. I also put together a couple of Youtube videos: Get Your Crochet Designs Published and Publish Your Crochet Designs.

Crochet Design and Marketing Experience

Whilst my small biz is all about crochet design, I reckon a lot of the top tips below are relevant to many creative “side hustles”. The advice is based on my own experience for ways of increasing sales in my creative business. It’ll guide you towards setting up your own small business side hustle if you haven’t already started.

It is not a major, deep dive as they are all extensive subjects in their own right. However, a simple overview will be a nice and gentle introduction here. I know very well how difficult and overwhelming it can be to start when there is so much info out there.

Top Tips for Your Small Creative Business

Get Featured in a Magazine

I was inspired to write this blog post because I was interviewed for a recent issue of Inside Crochet magazine about being an entrepreneur and having a “side hustle” creative business. I would be missing a trick if I didn’t also share my experience of working as a freelance crochet designer here!

I love the working relationships I have with craft magazines. My work has been featured many times now and I get excited each and every time publication day comes along. Not only do you get to see your hard work show up in print, so does everyone else. it’s a genius way of getting known in your specialist field.

Perhaps you’ve already read how I started as a crochet designer. Essentially, I bit the bullet and contacted my favourite magazines asking to be featured. No point waiting for them to come to me! I say it so confidently now, but at the time I was bricking it. Putting yourself out there is hard but you can do it!

Learn About Small Business Marketing

Marketing is a huge subject and I’m no expert. However, I have picked up knowledge by trial and error. Marketing is a big investment of time (and sometimes, money). Crikey, all of these things are! But you can encompass it into your daily/weekly/quarterly work routine.

For me, a lot of marketing is about getting to know my audience through social media. Like, who are my customers? What do they like about my crochet designs and my brand? I used to be terrified of talking to people online but I find it much easier now. It’s massively important to be entirely yourself because trust is important, customers can definitely smell the stench of nonsense.

Personally, I hate marketing ploys being shoved down my throat. Then I have to remind myself that I am not my customer and just because I’ve seen my work quite a lot, it doesn’t mean that my customers have. So what if I shared the same picture on Insta three times over the last 18 months! Not everyone saw it the first or second time. Sometimes, reminding folks about a popular design or product isn’t going to feel forced at all. It’s gentle promotion, I guess.

One of the most fun things I did to market Zeens and Roger was answer a Facebook post asking for artists to display their work in empty highstreet windows. I got a very sweet spot to showcase my crochet designs, just in time for lockdown March 2020. People still saw it and I got a lot of emails, even during peak quarantine days.

Showcasing crochet on the high street.

Write Newsletters

Um, I am useless at turning up for this and much to my detriment too. Despite being a Newsletter chump who has only set up basic campaigns and then managed to send ONE Newsletter, I know without a shadow of a doubt that a direct bulletin to people who want to know more is massively valuable. This is a marketing tool that is super buzzy right now. Everyone is encouraged to write a Newsletter so that you can point customers to where your stuff is.

Please can someone kick me up the bum and tell me to write more Newsletters from my creative business please?!

Become a Pinterest Whizz

Oh Pinterest, how I love thee! Pinterest takes long term commitment to get people pinning your lovely images. For the longest time, I didn’t pay this platform enough attention. And it showed. Then, about 18 months ago I signed up for a series of free Pinterest webinars. I learned that whatever I had been doing was terribly old school. I had not kept up with the pinning times. As soon as I linked my website to my Pinterest account, and once I knew how to create pins on Canva, I was off!

The pic below is a typical Pin that does pretty well.

Some Pins take off immediately, some are a slow trickle of attention, and many pins fall flat on their face. A mix of all three has been my experience, and I’ve seen my small audience go up from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand in just over a year. Perhaps you don’t think that’s a lot but it’s a decent start. I’m happy with that. And even if images don’t get pinned, I can see from my blog stats, that I still get a lot of visitors because of Pinterest.

An example of a Pin for Pinterest. A good way for a small business to get spotted.

Be Consistent in your Work

Show up for Instagram. Show up for your blog. Show up in any of the places you’ve decided to focus on for your creative work. The amount of times I have seen people set everything up, to then sit back and expect miracles is crazy.

I’m definitely guilty of neglecting some elements of the behind the scenes work because life really does get in the way and that’s OK. It’s important that none of us give ourselves a hard time on this. However, you can nearly always see the difference in stats between sitting back and doing bog all, and sitting down at your desk and writing a blog post or creating a handful of Pins, or whatever.

Evaluate what needs changing and make little improvements. No need to go in all guns blazing cos that’ll backfire too.

Your Crafty Skills are Valuable

Something you know already: Exposure doesn’t pay the bills! The reason you’re reading this is because you have a talent that you believe can be turned into a bit of a money spinner. Doing stuff for free won’t help with that. I have learned this by accepting “gifts” in exchange for reviews. They are never gifts, something is expected in return.

No, I won’t do 2 Instagram Posts, 4 Stories, 2 Reels, a blog post and YouTube review for your three balls of fancy new yarn. But you can pay me for those things! I swear big brands know to target smaller and up and coming creative businesses because they know those are the ones who will jump at an “amazing opportunity”

I’m contacted on a reasonably regular basis asking if I will do the influencer thing. Nine times out of ten, I won’t as I know it devalues a maker’s time. It’s exciting to hear from well known brands but in the back of my mind is the knowledge that they have huge marketing budgets and that money doesn’t filter down to talented creators, needing to be paid for their work.

Just to add, I’m not a misery guts. There are times when there’s a positive gut feeling and I jump on board for a collaboration.

A colourful crochet sweater pattern called Milis. Featured in specialist crochet magazine, Moorit .

Blogging for Your Small Business

The longevity of blogs is incredible. The power they still have has blown my mind a little bit. At one point I remember everyone predicting the death of blogging but nope, it has shown amazing staying power.

I started my blog for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to record the things I crocheted and secondly, had a vague notion that perhaps I could earn money from it if enough visitors stopped by. A big dream was to sell designs too. As a total novice, I learned new skills just by having a go. Funnily enough, the skills I learned from blogging had an influence on getting my first “real” job back in the workplace, after being a stay at home parent for ten years.

Monetize your creative blog when you start seeing the traffic picking up. Are you able to attract visitors by offering freebies? Mostly, I like to offer free crochet patterns that are relatively quick and easy. That way you’re not spending more time than it may be worth. I also enjoy blog posts about crochet related techniques and tips too. That way, crocheters who make my patterns can also discover some snazzy tricks and advice too.

Don’t forget that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is where it’s at for bloggers. It’s more than just keywords and my understanding of SEO grows year on year. I used to be a very lazy blogger so every now and then I spend the time going over old blog posts to make them SEO relevant, make sure the links work and actually answer questions about crochet rather than assume people know the same things I do.

I also use a plugin called Yoast to help me make sure I hit all the SEO things I need to hit.

Try YouTube Vlogging

If you have the time for recording content such as podcasts and tutorials (and then putting it all together via the power of editing software) this could be for you. All the Youtube video making takes time but you find a whole new audience. Be aware that to make YouTube work for you, you need to be present regularly. I couldn’t commit to once or twice a week so have taken a step back for now. You need a lot of views to bring in income but if you enjoy talking about your small creative business then this is a great option.

I miss my YouTube channel a lot and if I could, I would be there every week, making all the crochet videos!

Fancy being a crochet designer? Here's ten tips for starting a small creative business based on my experience of making it up as I go!

Build a Network of Friends

Sometimes, running a small business can be lonely. This is one of the reasons I haven’t quit my day job as I like working with people. My job as a crochet designer can be pretty solitary. Sharing the experience with friends and peers who have similar creative businesses can make a huge difference to how you feel about your work.

A lot of negative stuff can be said about Instagram but I have made genuine friends by being on that app. I love that you can go to a yarn festival on your own and bump into someone you know and have a great old gasbagging session. I love that I have even been on holiday with my crochet pals.

Whether you’re having a catch up over cake in real life or a chinwag on Zoom, I greatly value these awesome friendships.

Get Small Business Advice from the Experts

You can get loads of free small business advice online and it helps to know where you can find specific resources. Webinars, courses or subscriptions sometimes have a small cost associated with them. I’m happy to spend the equivalent of a few pattern sales to gain access to superior knowledge. They are fantastic investments. To be honest you can spend hundreds on signing up for courses etc but you can pick and chose what ones work for you.

Keep your eyes peeled on social media too and discuss with your network of crafty friends to find out what’s going on in the community. This is where I have discovered many helpful courses to do with marketing, Pinterest, SEO etc. In fact, this weekend I’m attending an online copywriting course!

A list of People and Places to help with your Creative Business

  • Studio Cotton: Aime shares a tonne of expert advice on small creative businesses.
  • Sara Tasker AKA Me & Orla: I particularly enjoy her Hashtag Authentic podcast.
  • Indie Roller: Lots of positive encouragement about selling your work from Leona.
  • The Design Trust: A Business School for creative professionals.
  • Inspired To Write: Amie McNee, a Creativity Coach who is relatively new to me but I like what I see.

These are just a few. The top two are my faves and work with how I like to run my crochet biz. Is there a resource that you swear by?

Working with brands like Hobbycraft  elevates my creative business.
Filming the Mixtape Medley CAL for a Hobbycraft collaboration.

Well, lordy, who knew a creative business person wore so many hats!!

By the way, please don’t let this list worry you. It’s not all done in one giant whammy. It is very much a one step at a time kind of thing. Pick and choose what to tackle first and take your time. Don’t give up too soon either, it’s a long-game and with patience, you’ll see changes start to happen.

Also, a caveat. I made this list up based on what I fumble my way through. The list is not exhaustive and perhaps not what my peers do. There are loads of other ways to wing it as a small creative business person but I hope this offers some kind of starting point. It’s not really possible to cover everything in one blog post. I’m pretty sure I’d end up with a book if I tried to talk about it all!

As always, let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.


My ten tips for starting a small creative business based on my experience of making it up as I go!

Blue Granny Square Sweater

Crochet Granny Square Sweater from Zeens and Roger

Crochet your Own Sweater!

So good I made it twice, here is my second Granny Square Jumper!! I’m here to write about it again as, not content with leaving things as they are, I made adjustments which I think you will find useful.

If you haven’t seen my first post about how I made a super colourful version (with lots of fabulous yarn stashbusting), you can find that HERE, on a post imaginatively titled Granny Square Sweater. That’s where you will find the original recipe on how to crochet a jumper of your own. I also created a crochet video tutorial to show how to put everything together.

If you’re a beginner crocheter, you can make this sweater with the resources I have provided. However, it’s not just some granny squares stitched together. There is shaping (at the shoulders and sleeves), nice ribbing, and techniques that will up your skill level.

If you like this granny square sweater, perhaps you’ll like my other crochet ideas. Please peruse my free crochet patterns page. And if you really really like what you see, you can buy me a Ko Fi! Although, it’ll most likely be tea because I’m not a coffee drinker…

Colourful stash busting granny square sweater.
My stashbusting original Granny Square Sweater

What’s Changed?

Ok, so, it would be easy for me to say that this is just the same jumper as my original stashbusting sweater but that’s not technically true. Here are the things that I tweaked:

  • I used different yarn – a merino DK held with mohair lace weight.
  • I only used two colours.
  • The main body granny squares are smaller, allowing me to add width later by using a few rows of granny stripes at each side. This also made room for a slightly deeper neckline because….
  • I changed the shoulder tabs – fronts are longer than the orginal, and different to the back tabs.

The plan for this blog post is to talk you through these changes so they’re not scary. I have drawn up some rudimentary charts, which will help visual learners, and hopefully I won’t bamboozle you with information overload!

Black and Blue granny square sweater from Zeens and Roger

Using Mohair Yarn

As I’ve mentioned above, I used different yarn to make this black and blue fluffy jumper. The original is made with aran weight yarn with wool content. Rather fortuitously, my gauge is the same.

Whilst this black and blue sweater/jumper was also intended as a stash buster (using yarn I had leftover from other projects), I wasn’t sure there was enough of the black so ordered more. I vastly overestimated and have ended up with the same amount that I started with. A little bit more, in fact. So much for stash busting!

If you’re daunted by the fluffy stuff, fear not, read my blog post with some top tips for using mohair yarn. Ultimately, please don’t be scared. This is actually a really good project for mohair yarn because the stitches and design are simple. And holding the mohair with a non fluffy yarn, eases any anxiety too.

I used Drops Kid Silk, I had loads of Cobalt blue in stash from a neglected then rejected design idea.

Merino DK Yarn

I chose to use West Yorkshire Spinners Bo Peep Luxury Baby DK (double knit). The black (Incy Wincy) is leftover from a knitted jumper that went into a Vivienne Westwood inspired Sex Pistols jumper that was the husband’s Christmas present (I didn’t knit it, I asked MiL to do it!). There was leftover Drops Kid Silk black mohair from the same project as well.

More blue (Space Hopper) was purchased as I think I only had one ball in stash. This shade went beautifully with the Cobalt mohair.

I sometimes find that merino can be quite heavy, this one is lovely and light (probably because it’s a nylon mix). It doesn’t create a cumbersome jumper, which can be a bit much for an item of clothing.

Two Colours of Yarn

As a stashbuster, the choice of yarn was made for me. I didn’t have to worry about colour because black and blue were what I had and that was that.

The best thing about only using two colours is that for the main squares, you can float the yarn. No snipping, no time spent sewing in loads of ends, huzzah! Obviously, float along what you decide is the wrong side of the granny square.

I’ve worked out that for this jumper (an approximate size 3), I used:

  • 7x50g blue DK
  • 5x50g black DK
  • 4x25g blue mohair
  • 3x25g black mohair

As a general rule, every 100 grams of the DK merino uses a 25 gram ball of mohair. However, meterage is 112m per 50 gram ball of the DK (therefore 224m per 100g) and the meterage for the mohair is 210m per 25g ball. There’s a little bit of an imbalance so an extra ball of mohair is a good idea, to make up the shortfall.

The amount needed will vary depending on the size you make and how much adjusting you do. You will need more than me if you’re making a larger size. I have not done the maths to find out precisely how much for each size.

Float your yarn
Float your yarn

Cropped Granny Sweater

Two large granny squares are the basis for the main body panels of both sweaters. For this version, the two main squares are four rounds fewer than the colourful jumper. This is so the final sweater doesn’t have the length of the extra rounds but it has the width because I add granny stripes to each side of the front square.

Front and back granny squares have 19 rounds. The front square then has 5 granny stripes at each side. 19+5 is equivalent to a 24 round square for the width, which is one round more than version 1 (cos, why not?!). I added the shoulder tabs to the top, working into gaps between stripes, and gaps between clusters. See pics and charts below.

The back doesn’t have separate side stripes, instead, I crocheted around three sides of the square five times to get the same amount of extra sides and also add it across the top too. Hopefully this is not gobbeldegook!! It’s difficult to put into words but I think the charts are my saviour.

You can use the maths from the original post to work out gauge and measurements if you’re not keen on eyeballing.

Front panel
A pic highlighting how the front panel is put together. Granny Square, side stripes, and shoulder tabs.

Shoulder Tabs

If you make a sweater with the more basic elements, like I did for the original, by the time you’ve added shoulders and a waistband, the sweater is longer than it is wide. For version no.2 I wanted a more cropped style. In order to achieve this there are the additional steps, discussed above. They are arguably more tricky to wrap your head around but I absolutely love the result.

The first jumper has the same number of rows for both front and back shoulder tabs. It’s super easy to do it this way because it means you don’t need to think about maths and stitch placement too much.

However, what would happen if you attached different length tabs (front v back) to main body granny squares? Let’s say 8 rows for the front tabs and 3 rows for the back tabs. Your front body panel would be 5 rows longer than the back panel. This difference needs to be accommodated.

Below I have included the basic charts. I think they are the easiest way to show you all the shaping shenanigans. The charts are truncated so they show you the intention without literally showing every row. The real life jumper has 8 rows of front shoulder tabs (repeat the last two granny stripes rows of the chart to get 8) and 3 rows of back shoulder tabs (samesies as the chart).

Shoulder Tabs Clusters

The important bit is that shoulder tabs should end up the same width across at their last rows. Or thereabouts. I don’t think it matters if there is one stitch difference (mine were!). If there is more of a difference then it might be worth going back to the drawing board.

FYI, My shoulder tabs end measuring approx 16cm.

To begin, the first row of my front tabs has 7 full clusters, plus the end stitches. After four rows of shaping/decreasing and four rows of even granny striping, the tabs end with 6 full clusters and 1 stitch either side = 20 stitches.

The back tabs start with 6 full clusters plus the ends. These tabs are only three rows but because of a little manipulation/decrease at the neckline, I ended with 5 full clusters and 2 stitches at either end, that’s 19 stitches. I’m happy matching 20 stitches to 19. You can’t tell on the finished garment.

However many clusters you choose to add, make sure the width (no. of clusters per tab) isn’t going to create a massive neck hole.

Black and blue granny square sweater

Front Main Body

The first chart (below) is for the front of the jumper. Make the granny square first, then join as many stripes you want to either side. That’s the black and blue section of the chart. Then work the shoulder tabs. I have only shown one tab here but it gives you the picture of what you need to do for both. Don’t forget that more is explained in the colourful granny square sweater post, go check it out.

Back Main Body

The second chart shows the back. Now, here is where it gets more than just a tweak, we’re making different adjustments to ensure everything is the same size and will fit together. You can see that rather than working some side stripes, the chart shows three worked sides of the square (chart has three rows/rounds, in real life I did five). This is to accommodate the different lengths of the front and back shoulder tabs. So, five additional rows along the top of the back, plus 3 shoulder tab rows = 8, which equals the same as the front tab rows.

Crikey, at this point, I feel like I need to say “Thaaaat’s Numberwang!”

Granny Stripe Sleeves

Sleeves remain the same, thank goodness! But because they are stripes, you still have loads of ends to sew in. I started using the ends to sew the sleeves together but it was a major faff so decided to sew them all in first and then sew together using a length of the DK. There’s no need to use the mohair as well when you’re sewing your pieces together.

Ready to Wear Crochet Sweater

And everything else is the same! When writing out the differences it feels like it’s quite complex but in real life, once you have the hook in your hand and the yarn gliding through your fingers, it’s actually a lot simpler. In no time whatsoever you’ll be wearing your new handmade jumper! And it will look great!!

Please share your makes on Instagram by tagging me @zeensandroger and using #ZeensAndRoger

Also, there’s Ravelry too. Adding your project there is super helpful as it helps others see what designs look like when made by others.

Crochet jumper schematic
Granny Square Sweater
Granny Square Sweater Pattern