The Life of (Crochet) Riley

The Riley Sweater

Say Hello to the Riley Jumper!

Or would you call it a sweater? I will probably use them interchangeably here but they are essentially the same thing. Here in the UK, Riley is a jumper. To my US chums and other worldly friends, I think it’d most likely be a sweater. Whatever you call it this is a crochet pullover (?!) that is sure to keep you warm as the season changes and the weather gets a bit more chill.

Get Your Hands on the Crochet Pattern

As usual, rather than make you jump through hoops, I’ll leave the info right up top. To get a copy of Riley (V2), pop over to Ravelry, Etsy or Lovecrafts, whichever is your fave place to shop for crochet patterns. This jumper is size inclusive for nine different sizes.

The crochet pattern is written and available in both US & UK terms. I don’t always get round to doing this (soz See My Vest) but given that this one uses a few different stitches (in a fun way) I thought it would be helpful for all makers.

Riley crochet sweater by Zeens and Roger
Riley, a Crochet jumper by Zeens and Roger

The Life Story of Crochet Riley

The incarnation I’m giving most of the attention to here is not the first Riley jumper. No it is not. Last year I was asked by Inside Crochet magazine if I was interested in designing a cosy sweater of simple construction with some lovely wintery colours in it. I think they asked me because they know I love chucking loads of random colours together to create peculiar rainbow palettes.

The first Riley

Riley was, at first, a frosty mornings sort of jumper. Something warm and cosy for January temps when the skies threaten, or promise, snow (yay, snow!). The colours didn’t go as far as bleak mid winter vibes but they weren’t totally into fiery fiestas either. I finished Riley V1 last October and in January of this year it was the front cover star of Inside Crochet magazine! It looked fab, it really did! It still looks fab. I will no doubt wear it again and again, much like I did last winter. But there were things I wanted to change…

Riley on the front cover of Inside Crochet!
Riley, a fun crochet jumper!

Adjusting a Handmade Garment

Here’s the thing, designers are never satisfied. There is never a moment when a design is as perfect as it could be. Designers are always striving to make one last tweak, one extra adjustment. Unfortunately there comes a time when you must accept that it is time to step back and say a project is finished. I had to do that with the first Riley but when August came to an end and I stumbled upon my leftover stash of chunky yarn, I had this idea that I needed to make an autumn version. So I did. But with tweaks.

The main differences between 1 & 2 are the colours, the stripe depth, and the sleeves.

If there are any changes you feel you want to make then go for it! Crochet, and making your own clothes in general should always have an element of freedom to change if that’s what you want. We all have different bodies and making adaptations to suit personal preference is all part of the joy of handmade.

Main Design Tweaks

Colours? So yes, mostly I had yarn in stash leftover from jumper number one but I swapped out three or four colours to liven up the palette. Simple. Job done. Obviously makers can choose their own shades should they wish, it’s great that handmade has this flexibilty. Go for whatever colours you want!

The body count (stitch count of the body that is) remains the same. It’s the stripes I changed. I wanted to know what more stripes looked like. Stripes that weren’t so deep so that I could squeeze more in and therefore get more of a colour party happening.

The depth of stripes is also up for mixing and matching but obviously has an impact on the amount of yarn required for each. More stripes means more texture, which is a win in my book. This is achieved by the front post stitches. Everytime a colour changes occurs, they are introduced and it creates superb little ridges and pops of colour. Another win, don’t you think?!

In the pattern I have only given the yardage/metereage for what I have done. I’d be here for weeks if I worked out every possibilty, Not prepared to do that I’m afraid. But the option for playing around is there if you want.

The last, and biggest, difference between versions is the sleeves. Upon giving Riley V1 its first proper bath, it stretched a little bit further beyond my initial blocking. Not horrendously, just enough that the sleeves (always the overstretch culprits!) covered hands almost to the finger tips. This didn’t surprise me in the slightest as it was intended to be a slouchy fit and as per the brief, long, digit tickling sleeves were part of the remit. Nevertheless, day to day wear? Bit annoying if sleeves are in your breakfast so I knocked off a few rows to accommodate.

Colourful crochet sweater

More on the Sleeves

I’ve also changed the stitch count on the sleeves a little bit. Not so much that it’s obvious, it’s important to keep the oversized nature of them. But here was the problem: I struggled to squeeze my arms into my favourite winter coat. There was way too much bulk in the upper arm.

My advice would be to read the measurements of the sleeves in the crochet pattern to determine what you want to go for. You don’t necessarily have to rely of the size you’re making if you want a snugger fit. However, do note that the upper arm depth is already a couple of centimetres smaller than the original.

I’m hoping Riley V2 fits inside my fave coat now. At the beginning of the year, when I forced my arms inside that coat, I had the bulky appearance of a muscle man. We’d been watching Henry Cavill in the Witcher and I looked just like him, I swear! So yeah, sleeves are improved.

Chunky, Woolly Yarn

For both jumpers I used Re:Treat by West Yorkshire Spinners. (This is an affiliate link which means rather than Lovecrafts getting all your money a percentage of it comes to me instead with no extra cost to you).

The colours are gorgeous and very modern. I really liked using a roving yarn in the design, just the glide through the fingers was enough for me to be sold but once worked into a fabric it is also incredibly warm. I would definitely recommend giving this yarn a go, but if you wanted to use something else, try visiting Yarn Sub. Here’s a direct link to the Re:treat in case you fancied checking out some alternatives.

The Photoshoot

Photo shoots for my crochet designs are sometimes great fun, sometimes not. As has happened before, I rather bossily turned a lovely family weekend walk into a crochet fashion shoot (see the Dreckly mittens blog post – one of my fave posts ever by the way. I was in a very silly mood that day!) I did it for the January Hues hats too, and others, so it is a bit of a habit. It’s not always fun for the kids as they get fed up with their mother stopping countless times for good light and taking “just one more” picture in case all the others are a disaster. The husband also has to take a big sigh every time I expect him to read my mind about how the composition should be set up. He’s often the designated pusher of (camera) buttons.

I did think about sharing some additional pics of where we were but this would be a very long blog post if I did that. Maybe there needs to be a separate one for those? It is a very pretty part of Devon, all we need to do is walk a little bit out of town and there’s countryside. A story for another day I think.

Anyway, I very nearly forgot to say! Riley has nothing to do with the ubiquitous “Life of” I’m afraid. Riley is named after British artist, Bridget Riley. It’s all the stripes you see. Google her name and you’ll see what I mean. She’s cool.

PS If you have scrolled to the bottom looking for the pattern, the links to my shops are at the top! But since you’re here: Ravelry, Etsy, Lovecrafts is where you will find my crochet designs. And don’t forget to share your makes on Instagram!

Zeens and Roger wearing a Crochet jumper
Living the Life of Riley.
Use up leftovers on the Hepworth Mittens

Crochet Mittens

And finally, as a PPS, you can also get the crochet pattern for the Hepworth mittens (named after another female artist, Barbara Hepworth). You can find them on Ravelry here.

PPPS. Cheers! xx

Z&R Crochet Podcast 101. The Curse of the Creative

Fancy Watching a Crochet Podcast?

It has been a while but here is Episode 101, the latest crochet podcast which, you can watch over on YouTube now! I hope it’s worth the wait. It’s chock full of lots of different yarny projects so I think (I hope), you will enjoy spending some time with me.

To watch the episode, you can find it by clicking on the picture above, or popping across my YouTube channel HERE.

The list below is representative of the topics discussed in this latest crafty chat but if there is anything missing please do give me a shout…

Perpetual Dawn for The Fibre Company

Notes & Links to the Crochet Good Stuff:

A couple of blog posts that might interest you are: Working with Mohair Yarn which has a few tips on working with the fluffy stuff. And another, which is an easy guide to How to get Gauge for crochet clothes.

The cotton bucket hat is my latest free pattern. You can find it on the blog right HERE. There’s lots more detail on that blog post about the yarn I used and the pattern itself.

More is to follow about the Farmer’s Field cowl so no actual links yet. I’m feeling self conscious about it. Is it good enough? I like it, I am pleased with the eyelet details. Having a few wholes makes the yarn go further and is a bit different from my usual Corner to Corner crochet patterns.

I did mention about the John Arbon Knit By Numbers yarn though, that is now a C2C cowl but was once an early version of Harvest Moon. Check out crochet podcast episode 36 with that old edging!

The Granny Square Market features in issue 149 of Inside Crochet magazine. Since recording I have already started working on a V stitch version. The release date for it on my own online sales platforms will be at the end of October.

Have you seen Perpetual Dawn yet? It’s a granny square shawl designed by yours truly for The Fibre Company’s “By Hook” Collection. There’s nothing quite like a giant granny project is there?! And I like how this one looks very grown up. I don’t know if you remember but I used their yarn before in the Foragers’ Shawl.

Happy Crocheting. Cheers! X

Granny Market Bag for Inside Crochet magazine
An easy Crochet cotton bucket hat
A cardigan with no name. Yet
A new crochet design in progress
Farmer’s Field
Summer ripe figs.
Destined to be crochet socks
Cotton Crochet Bucket Hat
Blocking swatches

Cotton Crochet Bucket Hat

Crochet Bucket hat

A few weeks ago I shared this cotton bucket hat on Instagram and I’m really pleased to say that it has been quite popular. Well, I have seen lots of fab crafters make their own versions of what is a very easy hat to crochet, which must mean it’s something people want to make, right? Anyway I’ve made a second hat because I’ve already lost the first one… oops! As I was hooking it up I decided it deserved a place here on the blog, a blog that I’ve neglected since when? April? (my longest break ever!!)

Obvs bucket hats are every where at the moment, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that! It’s been at least a couple of years since they started popping up as a trend. I know because I made a straw hat version last year. This new pattern uses the US dc (UK treble) rather than a half double (UK htr) and the brim is different too. Essentially they are both bucket hats and they’re both free patterns right here for you to use! Also, let me point out that the other one even has a video tutorial!

changing colour every 2 rows for this crochet hat.

Crochet Pattern Preamble

The pattern then…here we go. I’m gonna use US terms here because I originally wrote the pattern to put in an Instagram post. A lot of followers over on my IG are from the US or are familiar with US terms so I thought that might be a good idea. Please know that all this dc stuff means a UK treble stitch. And because I boshed it out for Insta it also means that it is a pattern with basic detail. That just means I assume you already know the crochet basics, sound okay?

Zeens and Roger Crochet Bucket Hat
I changed colour every row for this one

Notes for before you start Crocheting your Hat

You will need to grab yourself a 4mm crochet hook and dk cotton yarn to make your bucket hat. I used King Cole Cottonsoft. If I’m using cotton in a project this is the yarn I go to first as I find it nice to work with and it has a good range of shades (plus, I’ve got loads of it as stash!). I’m not a major fan of cotton but it definitely has a place, which is usually crochet bags and summer items.

Chose whatever colours you like and change them as often as you want, tis up to you. You know there are no rules here for that sort of thing. For my first hat there is a colour change at every stripe. For the second hat I changed colour every other row. I think the two stripe is slightly more my cup of tea but that’s only if I’m being picky.

The hat fits an average adult human head. I believe my head is probs an average human size. To adapt the pattern to fit a different sized bonce, try going up or down a hook size, or add/take away an increase round. Remember to adjust the brim increases if you’re going to do this though. You can see that the increases follow a certain formula in that the number of stitches in between increases also grow regularly. Once you get to the brim, it’s a case of continuing on with that formula.

I mention crab stitch as an instruction in the last round. This is a reverse US single crochet. You literally work an sc (UK dc) the opposite way to normal. It creates a sort of spirally effect, which is great for edging lots of different crochet projects (I use it quite often!).

Crochet Bucket Hat

Cotton Bucket Hat. Crochet Pattern

Note that “Inc” means “increase” ie, to make 2 stitches in the same place.
Also note that you join each round by slip stitching to the first st of that round (I just don’t want to write that instruction multiple times!🤣).

Make a magic circle, or chain 4 and join ends with a slip stitch to make a circle, which you work into.
Rnd 1: 3ch, 11dc in circle [12 sts]
Rnd 2: 3ch, 1dc in same space, increase around [24 sts]
Rnd 3: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 1dc, *Inc, 1dc; rep from * around. [36 sts]
Rnd 4: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 2dc, *Inc, 2dc; rep from * around. [48 sts]
Rnd 5: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 3dc, *Inc, 3dc; rep from * around. [60 sts]
Rnd 6: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 4dc, *Inc, 4dc; rep from * around. [72 sts]
Rnd 7: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 5dc, *Inc, 5dc; rep from around. [84 sts]
Rnds 8 – 15: 3ch, dc around.
Rnd 16: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 6dc, *Inc, 6dc; rep from * around. [96 sts]
Rnd 17: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 7dc, *Inc, 7dc; rep from * around. [108 sts]
Rnd 18: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 8dc, *Inc, 8dc; rep from * around. [120 sts]
Rnd 19: 3ch, 1dc in same space, 9dc, *Inc, 9dc; rep from * around. [132 sts]
Rnd 20: 1ch, crab stitch around (remember, it’s a reverse single crochet). Done!

Having a chat with Pod.

You’ve just crocheted a hat

And that’s how to crochet a cotton bucket hat, I hope you like it. As patterns go, it’s really quite simple. One of the most basic crochet stitches creates a super summery hat that can be worn all throughout the year. Then there’s the option of adding a crab stitch to finish, if you’re feeling fancy, but you don’t have to add this if you’d rather not. As usual, do what you want, that’s the great thing about making your own stuff! Make some tweaks and adapt it so that it suits what you want.

Cheers! x

PS. This post contains an affiliate link, meaning I get a teeny fraction of the price if you spend spondoolies at Lovecrafts via this link at no extra cost to you.

Z&R Crochet Podcast 100. Intentional

With no messing about here is episode 100 of the Zeens and Roger crochet podcast! That’s just over five years of me blathering on about my favourite subject!

To watch episode 100 please click on the picture above or go HERE to visit my YouTube channel. Don’t forget, crochet podcast 99 is there too (there’s additional vest show & tell in that one, and the one before it so I believe).

Please note that I am having a Flash Sale on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of May. Use the code: MAYDAY22 on these days to get 25% off any of my patterns. The code is valid on Ravelry and Etsy.

Links to the Crochet Good Stuff

See My Vest is now available to buy! It is a written pattern with charts and you can find it as a PDF download from Ravelry, Etsy, Lovecrafts and Ribblr. I also wrote a blog post to have that information all in one place forever!

Gudrun is also available to buy now on Ravelry and Etsy! Gudrun is a granny stitch crochet shawl with a contemporary twist. It was featured in issue 1 of Moorit magazine last year.

I will be at the John Arbon Textiles Mill Open Weekend in June!! Lots of good stuff going on over the course of this woolly weekend. I’ll be running a C2C workshop on the Saturday afternoon.

Get Your Fluff On is a yarn I’m using in my new design. This is not an affiliate link (just in case you’re wondering).

The Dodgy Bag MAL has been going on for a few years and I think it’s time to get sewing again. It’s hosted by Claudia of Crochet Luna and Ali from Little Drops of Wonderful. You can find out about this years’ MAL on the latest Crochet Luna Podcast.

Join the Zeens and Roger Patreon gang! We are a small and friendly group. Zoom chats usually consist of lots of crochet/yarny chat plus what we’ve been watching on TV, and what we’re gonna have for dinner!

Conversely, feel free to buy me a Ko-fi!

Or, you can always buy my crochet patterns. I was looking on Ravelry the other day, How have I managed to design over 100 different crochet patterns!!? I’m bamboozled. … There are other ways to support a designer too. Watch their stuff on YouTube, check out blog posts, tell your yarny friends about them….

Thanks ever so much.

Gudrun crochet shawl.

See My Vest. Modern Crochet Fashion.

Crochet Vest

It is a relief and a delight to get to the stage where I release my second official crochet garment pattern. Wahoo! (My first official garment pattern is the Perfect Cardigan published last year). This new design is See My Vest, a granny stitch crochet vest pattern. It’s also known in the UK as a tank top.

Buy the Vest Pattern

It’s important that you have choice here. I know certain platforms aren’t for everyone so the answer to that is that you can purchase the pattern from Ravelry, Etsy and Lovecrafts.

Size Inclusive

See My Vest comes in 9 different sizes. It has been graded and tested and I can confirm that it looks great in each size. Please check out Ravelry or the Instagram hashtag #SeeMyVest to check it out for yourself.

See My Vest Features

I have really enjoyed working on this crochet vest pattern. It’s a project I have worked on to continue learning about designing crochet clothes. A couple of months ago I signed up for an online class run by Nomad Stitches about garment construction and grading. I needed a project for “homework” and thought this vest would be quick and easy. In many respects it has been but a sleeveless garment is far from being a breeze to grade and write up. I did it though! Another goal achieved! Feeling quite chuffed about that. The course really helped and added to the grading information I had already gathered from the Workbook written by Heather of HGDC.

Made using acrylic DK yarn this is a great top for stash busting yarn you already have in your collection. I didn’t enjoy sewing in the many many ends for the Hotchpotch version but it looks so good! I’ve made a couple of stash busters during the design process and also a crochet vest all in blue. The bonus of making it in one colour is the lack of ends. Just a couple of them to sew in, yay!

I really hope you like it. It has some good features that I reckon are very pleasing indeed. The most common comments from testing was how fab it was that this is a seamless garment. You don’t have to sew any thing other than a couple of inches at each shoulder. Not bad, hey? The second most popular comment was that it was just so easy to adjust. In the pattern I have included some different, easy to follow options for making tweaks. Thus, you get to create your own unique garment. And there are charts! Another winner!

Crochet to Fit You

Whilst working on the grading I applied zero ease, meaning that I based the measurements on standard sizing without adding or taking away any room. So it’s not completely fitted but is not boxy either.

During the testing phase, myself and the See My Vest testing gang chatted about fit quite a lot. Shock, horror, guess what? We are all different shapes and sizes, with our own individual preferences for how we like to wear our handmade clothes. I was very lucky that in the testing group there were makers who loved the vest so much that they made two vests! They experimented with adding additional rows at the neck or back, they added or removed rows to the straps. To create different looks some made a smaller size to get negative ease (this creates a fitted look). The versatility is my favourite thing. As I have already mentioned, there are options within the pattern that tell you how to make alterations. I am a firm believer in tweaking, adjusting, and playing around to get a handmade garment that is unique and perfect for the wearer.

One of the things that helps with crochet fit is to make sure you have done a gauge swatch. Conveniently, I’ve got a blog post for that! The idea behind this post is that it’s an overview of the important bits without any major deep-dive. More of a tldr solution for people like me who are too lazy to read for more than a couple of minutes! I hope this isn’t revealing too much about my bone idle nature…

Getting the Vest Just Right.

There are four See My Vests in my house right now and potential for them to multiply. The first one was the ultimate in stash busting. Rather than sewing in ends, I knotted the ends and snipped them short having used the magic knot method. I don’t have a tutorial for this but it’s on my list of things to do.

Sample number one was made differently to the pattern so don’t zoom in on the pic below! The ribbing was added after as I suppose I wasn’t certain how the vest would be constructed at first. I also abandoned the idea of including this image in the final pattern. Not only is it not accurate, I also don’t have a clue how to instruct people to “chuck as much colour at it as possible. But not too much. Balance it by eyeballing. Add less in this bit, add more here…”. How do you write that professionally, in a document that people will pay money for?

Dithering over the placement of the shoulder straps was a bit of a thing. In the second sample I moved the positions of the straps but they fell off my shoulders. (I still have to rip the shoulders back and redo them because the yarn used in that top are my faves and to be treasured for a long time).

The yarn came in the form of Christmas presents from two fabulous people. Amanda, who is Queen Ambrosia on Insta sent me a beautiful, soft bundle of Polwarth DK minis all the way from Australia. The vibrancy of those shades are gorgeous and brought to life by the contrast of the creamy yarn that my long time podcasting pal, Claudia, sent to me from sunny California. Claudia has been on a mission to create yarn especially for crocheters. It’s a Z twist yarn with a textural quality I’ve never seen before. OMG it’s like butta! It works really well in the ribbing for this vest and I can’t help squidge it for comfort whenever I wear it.

Then I made the blue one, which is basically what the final pattern is. A low scoop neck crochet vest. But the pattern has options to make adjustments too! So I made a fourth sample. I added additional rows so make the scoop a little higher and returned to colour city with lots of different yarns thrown in to make a crazy rainbow.

This is the first sample. It went through a couple of changes after this.
Sample 2. Playing around with shoulder placement. Bit too wide and they dropped off my shoulders.

Crochet Community

When making something like this, I am not sure that I could do it entirely on my own and to claim as much would be dishonest. We all learn from each other and it would be remiss not to thank the amazing group of testers who made sure my first and second drafts got turned into a very clear third draft, with charts to boot. Thanks guys!

Same goes for the tech edit. This bit is essential for each and every designer. It’s best done by someone else as you can’t spot all the inevitable mistakes when it’s your own work. It’s not so bad for simpler patterns and you can sometimes edit your own work for those. But garments are a different kettle of fish and I think it’s an extremely valuable step in the process. So thank you Michelle for being brilliant, and reading me like book. She knows when I’m trying to cut corners and tells me so!

So that’s it. I really hope you enjoy making a crochet vest for yourself. Please let me know what you make and share pics on instagram or Ravelry etc. After all it isn’t much of a crochet community without you too!

Cheers. x

The blue one
Match with flouncy fabrics

Miu Miu Inspired Crochet Granny Stripe Scarf

Granny Scarf

What do you make when you have a couple of balls of yarn going spare? A crochet granny scarf of course! This one is directly inspired by the super pricey Miu Miu scarf that I have seen online over the last few months. It is a very simple crochet scarf made using the striped granny stitch. Super easy and quite speedy. And this one will cost you a great deal less money than £350!

Who gets that £350 I wonder? Is it the maker of those designer scarves? I doubt it. We seem to have Fast Fashion churning out crochet garments and accessories everywhere at the moment. It gives me the ick. Crochet is such an undervalued skill.

As well as cheap fast fashion, there are designer items at prices which would reflect the makers time but I am still dubious about where the money is going. I suppose that’s something to explore for another day. The subject is huge and complex. What we can do today is make these items ourselves so no profits end up lining the pockets of those in fast fashion. However, I am not an authority on the subject so won’t go on a rant but something is off about the practice. What do you make of the latest crochet fashion trends?

Aaaaannyway, let’s crack on with the crochet…

A Simple Crochet Project

This is a crochet scarf that is great for a beginner or someone who just needs something mindless and mindful to work on. I made this granny stripe scarf in no time at all. Perhaps a couple of evenings. Something like that.

It’s just two 100g balls of Fluffy Day that I got from Hobbii (gifted). It says it’s an aran weight yarn on the label but I would liken it to a plump DK. It has a halo akin to a mohair yarn or brushed alpaca but it’s actually 100% brushed acrylic. This amount of yarn gave me a scarf that measures approx 62 inches in length.

I used a 4mm hook here but it doesn’t really matter with this project. You can use any yarn you have and a hook size that gives you a drape you like. If you’re going to go wildly off piste with a much finer or chunkier yarn, then this will affect the width of the scarf you make. Add or remove multiples of 3 stitches to change the width.

Crochet Granny Stripe Pattern

The following patterns uses UK terms. Fear not, where I write “tr” (UK treble, I mean a US” dc” (double crochet). The “htr” is the same stitch as “hdc”. Easy as pie!

Row 1: 43ftr, turn. [Ftr means foundation treble and it is brilliant. I have a tutorial HERE.]
Row 2: 1ch, 43htr, turn.
Row 3: 1ch, 2tr in the first st, *miss 2 sts, 3 tr in next; rep from * to end finishing with 2tr in the last st, turn.
Row 4: 1ch, 1tr in the first st, 3tr (called a cluster) in each space along, 1tr in last st, turn.
Row 5: 1ch, 2tr in the first st, *miss cluster, 3 tr in next sp; rep from * to end finishing with 2tr in the last st, turn.
Rep Rows 4 & 5 for as long as you want.
Next Row: 1ch, htr in each st to end, turn.
Last Row: 1ch, 1tr in each st to end. Fasten off and wear your scarf when it’s cold.

You might also find this crochet chart useful, if you read charts then this one is quite straightforward. So straightforward that I haven’t drawn a key (cos I forgot)…

It’s deceptively simple and I think sometimes this is the best sort of crochet. The simplicity is very modern and the grannies hark back to the 70’s. Love that juxtaposition! What do you think? Let me know by making one. Cheers. x

For more free patterns from me please go HERE.

Z&R Crochet Podcast 99. Fluffy Mission

Hi! Welcome to the Zeens and Roger Crochet Podcast. This is episode 99!! To go directly to the episode, please click on the above pic or go HERE to my YouTube channel for all podcast episode and crochet tutorials.

Please see below for any links to yarn, crochet patterns and other good stuff.

All the Crochet Good Stuff:

See My Vest is coming soon. It is still in the testing phase. I will let you know as soon as possible when it is ready.

Hobbii Fluffy Day yarn features in one of my granny vests, and I have made a Miu Miu inspired granny stripe crochet scarf too. I need to find the time to put together a blog post and video tutorial for this scarf because it is super easy and looks great.

Speaking of blog posts. I did actually manage to get one out this week. If you are curious to have an overview about gauge in your crochet garments, go HERE to read my tips and tricks. Gauge is soooo important!!

I finished the Rockmore cardigan by Ana D. It is from issue 39 of Pompom Quarterly,

I am using Get Your Fluff On by Hobbycraft for a new cardi design. Will keep you posted.

You can watch my books vids HERE and HERE. I split it into two because it would have been quite long as one.

I will be at the John Arbon Textiles Mill Open Weekend in June. More on this on the next episode because I don’t feel like I have given you enough info about this!

Mind the Gap self striping yarn by Trailing Clouds.

Join the small but perfectly formed Patreon gang. Free patterns and Zoom chats await!!

Crochet Tension: How to Get Gauge for your Garments

What is Crochet Gauge?

First off I want to tell you that the concept of gauge (or tension) is actually pretty easy. It is most important for handmade garments but it is super useful to have a basic understanding for any crochet or knitting that you do. So, what is it?

Basically, gauge is measuring how many stitches and rows you have within a specific area of crochet or knit fabric. Most commonly, 10×10 cm (4×4 inches) is used. Making a small swatch of at least 15cm (6 inches) square will mean you can use a tape measure against that swatch to count how many stitches and rows you have over 10cm. Making the swatch slightly bigger means it’s more accurate. Those stitches in the middle of your swatch will be a better representation of the stitches in a garment, as opposed to the ones around the edge.

If you want the garments you make to work out as a designer intended, then I’m very sorry, you really must make time to work up a lovely swatch! Ignoring this important step before you start on the project itself, and you are at risk of messing it up!

Meeting gauge is matching the measurements given in a pattern. To do this more successfully, start with the same yarn weight that is suggested in the pattern and use the recommended hook size. You can’t use any yarn you want. It just doesn’t work that way!

How to Measure Gauge

OK, so you know what gauge is now (I hope!) but how do you measure it? It can sometimes be difficult to find precisely where a stitch begins and ends (fluffy yarns are my foe here). For the longest time I didn’t really think this was an issue and just kinda guessed at it. However, since I’ve started designing and grading crochet garments I have come to rely heavily on accuracy. You need to as well.

Below is a paragraph on blocking. Before you get out your tape measure, do you need to block your swatch first? Yarn changes after wearing and washing. I block everything apart from 100% acrylic. I will tell you more in a sec.

To measure stitches, lay out your measuring device (ruler, tape measure, whatever) then count how many stitches you have in a 10cm / 4 inch length. Do the same for rows. Put the first end between two stitches rather than at the beginning of one. The spaces between stitches count towards the measurement. This is more relevant with lace patterns and heavier yarn weights because the spaces between stitches will most likely be bigger.

Not Meeting Gauge

As I suggested above, you are basically going to mess up your project if your rows and stitches don’t match those in the pattern you’re following. It is literally the most important step in crocheting handmade garments. Yeah, I know it’s not exciting but come on, suck it up. You can do it!

If you meet gauge and have the same as the pattern then Bingo, get crocheting asap! If not then, sorry, you are mostly likely going to have to swatch again. How many stitches did you get? If you have fewer stitches than you need per 10cm, try going down a hook size. If you have more stitches, then go up a hook size.

If it’s a drastic difference then perhaps the yarn isn’t suitable for the project and you need to have a rethink. For example, it is not recommended to use a 4ply for a DK pattern. Don’t buy Chunky/Bulky when the pattern says to use Worsted! I’ve been there, I understand, but we are in an age where there are loads of yarns to choose from, loads of patterns. Please match the yarn weight and yardage/metreage to the pattern.

Crochet’s Golden Loop

I did not know this had a name until recently! I was aware that, depending on the person, the working loop on the hook has a different tension, and I had heard the names for each, but apparently, the trio of Yanker, Rider and Lifter are known as the Golden Loops. They will determine the height of your stitches. If you’re not meeting gauge on your row height, this is probably why. None of them are right or wrong but if you’re aware of your crochet style you can make adjustments to the change gauge, and therefore, row height.

Are You a bit of a Yanker?

You’re a Yanker if the loop on your hook is tight from drawing the hook down and close to the work.

Enjoy being a Rider?

Your hook is held level with the fabric as you pull through. Neither too tight or too loose. Arguably the most balanced.

Maybe you’re a Lifter?

This is me. I lift my hook upwards as I work each stitch, especially when crocheting quickly. It’s the reason I get quite tall stitches.

Blocking your Swatch

I briefly mentioned blocking a moment ago, this comes into play for swatching too. If using natural fibres a pattern will probably suggest gently washing and pinning a swatch out to dry. Or, if it doesn’t but it says to block the final thing, please assume that you’re blocking the swatch too. Yep, it does mean things take longer. Once again: sorry!

Once it’s dry you then take gauge measurements from that. Natural fibres act differently to acrylic and will stretch and drape differently once washed and dried. I don’t block acrylic because it doesn’t behave the same way. It keeps its shape quite well for the most part. I have killed acrylic swatches in the past by aggressively steam blocking. I don’t want to melt 20+ hours of work, thanks very much. If it’s acrylic blended with natural fibres then I will risk a gentle steam blocking. Just be very very careful!

Top Tips for Great Gauge

  1. Replace your tape measure on a regular basis. The cheaper, plasticky ones will stretch with lots of use and therefore lead to incorrect numbers.
  2. Make your swatch at least 15cm square. I have heard of people only measuring 5cm and doubling it. For a garment, NO! Don’t do that, it allows more room for error. Big bad No!
  3. Wash and block it (unless 100% acrylic).
  4. Set your tape measure to start evenly between two stitches. That seemingly inconsequential space adds up when multiplied.
  5. Swap to a bigger or smaller hook size if you aren’t meeting gauge.
  6. Watch how you crochet. Are you a Yanker, Rider, or Lifter? This will affect row height.
  7. Burn it into your brain that swatching is always part of the garment making process.
  8. Use the recommended yarn weight. Look at the yardage/metreage per hundred grams for matchy matchy figures.

Dodgy Gauge

There are a few consequences of ignoring gauge. The biggie: hours and hours have been potentially wasted because you’ve made a garment that doesn’t fit. You might also run out of yarn, which means you have to buy more. But what if the shop doesn’t have the same dye lot anymore? You end up with half the left sleeve is a different shade of grey. Plus, you ordered even more yarn to get free postage and now you have loads of leftovers that will sit in the cupboard for three years.

Then you have to start all over again!

Z&R Crochet Podcast 98. Fast & Loose.

Halllooooo, and welcome to the Zeens & Roger Crochet Podcast (vlogcast)!! The latest video squeezes in loads of crochet good stuff so please click on the image above to watch or go to my YouTube channel HERE.

Isca is now released!! Isca is a rib & bobble crochet cowl design with matching headband / crochet ear warmer. There is 25% off until the 25th Feb. Use the code ISCA25 on Ravelry & Etsy to get the new release discount.

The yarn I used for Isca is from Along Avec Anna. Anna has a new shop in Exeter selling her beautiful yarn and knitting patterns.

I briefly mentioned a free C2C cowl pattern. You can find that HERE.

Nomad Stitches. This online course about the basics of grading and garment construction has been invaluable. But I do have homework to do! Follow Sandra to hear about similar courses about crochet design.

Inside Crochet – issue 144 has the Riley jumper, plus an interview with me. And an additional 2 patterns in a pretty shawl supplement.

Hotchpotch crochet grannies. I have a thing about hotchpotch granny projects. Mostly bags and purses. Here is a link to a how to make a little purse.

Kate from Jellybean Junction has just released a lovely new crochet book. Lots of quick fix crochet for when you need a yarn hit. I’m working on one of the patterns as part of a book tour. It has a real mix of pretty projects for yourself and your home.

One of the garment ideas I have, and would like to design using the new grading skills I’ve been learning this last year, is a cardigan. I did want a raglan design construction but with the stitch pattern I want to use, I’m not yet certain how to tackle it. So a drop sleeve it is for this one! I am using Hobbii Yarn called Fluffy Day, which was sent to me as a gift. It’s the perfect electric blue and has a lovely brushed look , which is currently all the rage! I have a few swatches and I’m nearly ready to put those numbers into a spreadsheet!

Lastly, I have a new design with Scheepjes! It’s called Rainbow Interrupted, a pretty crescent shawl using Scheepjes Metropolis. It’s such nice yarn to use. A proper buttery, soft one.

Come and join the Patreon party!! We meet up every month for a Zoom chat and there is usually a free pattern every month, plus behind the scenes catch ups too. Patreon support is hugely important to me. We are small but perfectly formed!

Think that’s it!! Cheers. x

Z&R Crochet Podcast 97. Thirsty for Hugs

Hi, welcome to the Zeens and Roger Crochet podcast. Episode 97 is the first crochet vid of 2022 and for this year whenever I do a podcast I’m going to try and keep it to around 30 minutes. Let’s see if I can do it! Click on the pic above to go directly to the episode or go HERE to my YouTube channel where you’ll find all previous podcasts and crochet tutorials.

The video with tips and advice on publishing your own crochet designs is HERE.

The latest issue of Inside Crochet magazine is out on the 20th January both digitally and in lots of retailers.

The Mohair blog post is HERE. Again, some good tips and advice on using mohair yarn in your crafty projects.

The Mixtape Medley blanket is now available in US terms. Go HERE for that.

You can get my hat patterns: January Hues, Ansome and Seven Summits at a lower price until the end of the month. The code: HATJAN22 is valid until the 31st of January. You can use that on Ravelry and/or Etsy.

I’m making the Rockmore cardigan from issue 39 of Pompom Quarterly.

If you would like to, buy me a ko-fi HERE! Or join the Patreon gang HERE

Check out Zeens & Roger on Instagram, Ravelry, Etsy, Lovecrafts, Ribblr, Pinterest