There are a LOT of blog posts, instructions and YouTube videos about this topic, but perhaps I can put some of this in such a way that it might click for somebody. I am FAR from an expert on the topic so please take everything with a truck-load of salt. After all, I still have problems keeping my edges straight. And I somehow managed to drop two stitches when I was 2/3 of the way through this rug.
I read a blog post written by my friend “Jamie” the other day where she talked about her first knitting project. I thought it was very well done for her first try! However, it reminded me that not everybody is used to reading patterns and knowing how to substitute materials, etc. I thought that I would take you through my process of preparing to crochet from a pattern. I’ve already shown what I do to prepare to make my crocheted afghans for Project Linus, but this is a bit different.
If I am going to make a blanket then I will usually have a certain yarn in mind that I want to use. Almost all of my yarn stash is made up of #4 worsted. A lot of times your pattern will tell you what weight of yarn it suggests.
Typically if the pattern tells you to use a certain number, then any yarn that is rated at that weight should work. When I make blankets I really don’t sweat the weight because if it’s a bit thinner or thicker it won’t make that much of a difference. You will, however, want to make sure that you have enough of the yarn you will use before starting your project.
As an example, let’s say that I love the look of the free Diagonal Crochet Blanket pattern on Premier yarns’ website. Let’s take a look at what materials are required.
It doesn’t tell me what size yarn it uses because they have used a special yarn that is part of their line. The problem is that I have a TON of yarn in my stash that I want to use. I don’t care about the design that the yarn makes as it’s stitched, I just like the look of the stitched rows. I have a lot of AC Moore brand yarn (Studio Classic by Nicole) and I want to use one of the variegated colorways that I already have on hand.
The yarn label will give you all of the information you need. Looking at my yarn I see this:
The Premier yarn called for in the pattern is 7 oz/200g, 656 yds/600m and 100% Acrylic. How does this compare to my yarn?
*****WARNING – MATH AHEAD*****
If we divide the total yardage by the weight we will be able to tell just how many yards we get out of each ounce of yarn.
Premier = 656/7 = about 93 yards per ounce.
Stitch Studio = 520/9.87 = about 52 yards per ounce.
What does this mean? That tells me that the Stitch Studio yarn will be a little thicker than the Premier yarn. One ounce of yarn stretched across 93 yards will give you a thinner strand than only stretching it across 52 yards. For me this will be okay because a thicker blanket might be better anyway. But how many skeins of yarn will I need?
How big do you want to make your blanket? They give you three sets of finished measurements. Then when you look at the yarn it gives you three quantities. It says that we can use Sweet Pea, Peony or Hummingbird for the blanket and for the small size we will need 2 skeins. To make the medium (36″x36″) we will need 3 skeins, and then 5 skeins for the largest size given. Let’s say that I decide I want to make the biggest blanket.
Premier yarns = 656 yds x 5 skeins = 3,280 yards.
Stitch Studio = 3,280 yds / 520 yd per skein = 7 skeins (rounded up from 6.3)
So, I would want at least 7 skeins of yarn for this project. Are you ready for me to throw one more monkey wrench into the mix? Let’s say that I need to stick to the yarn that I have in my stash so that I can see the floor of my crochet corner.
After sorting through my entire pile I find that I only have four skeins of the yarn that I wanted to use. Before throwing yourself on the floor in despair and lamenting the fact that you have a zillion skeins, but only FOUR of the seven that you required for this project… not all is lost.
If we look at the blanket pattern we see that they used a size G hook. This means that using the G hook (4 mm) and this Bloom Premier Yarn it took 5 skeins of yarn to make a 48″ x 48″ blanket. Let’s do the math to see how much yarn would be required to make the 36″ square blanket.
Premier yarns = 656 yds x 3 skeins = 1,968 yards.
Stitch Studio = 1,968 yds / 520 yd per skein = 4 skeins (rounded up from 3.78)
You can easily make a 36″ square blanket using the four skeins of yarn that you found in your stash. But what, there’s more! If you use a larger hook, say a I or J, then your stitches will be slightly larger and your overall blanket will end up slightly bigger, too. That’s not to say that you’ll be able to get a 48″ square blanket (because that won’t happen), but it will be slightly bigger than the middle size. The only thing I caution with this is that by using a bigger hook you are using up more yarn. So you might not want to go crazy because you’re only going to have about a quarter of a skein left if using the G hook. Also by going up a larger hook size you are decreasing the density of the stitch, thus decreasing the density of the blanket. You can always crochet a swatch and see if you like the stitches that you are getting from your yarn and hook.
(This is a #5 yarn)
I think I’m going to leave that right there for now. It takes a little experimentation to get familiar with the yarns, hooks and what results when you put the two of them together. I just have a few more tips that I would like to share with you before I end this post.
There are some patterns that will give you directions for Row 1, Row 2, Row 3, Row 4 and then for Rows 5-40 they will tell you to repeat Row 2-4. Since not many of us will sit down and crochet a blanket all at once, how do you know where you’re at when you are able to pick it back up? This is where a little planning comes in VERY handy.
I’ll show you my cheat sheet and then explain what’s going on.
It looks like you need a magic decoder ring for this, doesn’t it? After I read a pattern I look to see how many rows in total there should be when it’s finished. In this case I am beginning work on a blanket with a very specific pattern stitched into it that has a total of 75 rows. You can see the pattern repeats every six rows until you get to the very last row, which is probably just a row of single or double crochet (I don’t have the pattern here in front of me). When I crochet I keep a stitch counter next to me so that as I finish a row I click the counter. I was using a plastic one, but I found this one on Amazon and I LOVE it. You do have to remember to click it because otherwise you will still lose track of your rows. However, if you’re consistent you will know that you are on row 56 when your counter says ’55’. If it helps you can also place a stitch marker on every 5th or 10th row, too. The stitch markers that I use look like little plastic safety pins. This way if you forget to click the stitch counter you should be able to quickly count how many rows you’ve already completed.
Also, on my cheat sheet above, I made a note as to when I will need to change colors. This way I shouldn’t be able to get too far before realizing that I needed to be using the other color. It takes a little bit of work to prepare, but it makes crocheting a LOT faster.
I hope that this was helpful to you. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll write up how I prepare to crochet a garment. Thanks!