I know you’re eager to get started on your afghan but we’ve got some very handy tutorials below you might want to check out. This week we’re covering How to Check Your Gauge, and How to Read a Chart. If you want to skip the tutorials and get to the good stuff right now:
Each clue is being released as a PDF – these are easy to download and print. To open them you’ll need Adobe Reader, which you can download here.
Before we begin let’s all take a few minutes to make a gauge (tension) swatch and check our results against the pattern. I can’t stress enough how important this step is. If your gauge doesn’t match the one given in the pattern, your squares will not turn out the right size and your afghan may be disappointing. It’s much better to take an extra few minutes at the beginning to check this critical number than to have to rip out hours of work later on. The gauge swatch is even more important if you’re making a sweater or other item that needs to fit properly.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE
If you look under “gauge” in the pattern you’ll see that 11 single crochet stitches and 12 rows should equal 4 inches (10 cm) square using a 6 mm (US J/10) hook. It may be necessary for you to use a smaller or larger hook depending on the measurement you achieve with your gauge swatch. More about this in a moment.
Here’s a simple pattern you can use to check your gauge for this pattern:
Row 1: Chain 12. 1 single crochet in the 2nd chain from the hook. 1 single crochet in each chain to the end of the chain. Turn. (11 single crochet)
Rows 2 – 12: Chain 1. 1 single crochet in each single crochet to end of row. Turn. Fasten off at end of Row 12.
When working into the chain, you can work from the front of the chain under the top two loops of the stitch or you may find it easier to work into the bump on the back of the chain. This gives a neater edge that looks just like the edge of the last row you work before fastening off.
As you continue with your swatch, you’ll want to put your hook under both loops of the single crochet in the row below for each stitch.
Lay your swatch on a flat hard surface, get out your ruler and measure both width and length.
If you have a width number that is less than 4 inches (10 cm), make a swatch with a larger hook. If your width number is more than 4 inches (10 cm), make a swatch with a smaller hook. If your width number is right on but your length number is more or less than 4 inches (10 cm), changing hook size is not going to help. In this case if your length is more than 4 inches (10 cm), you may need to try making your single crochet stitches a little shorter by not pulling your working loop quite so high; if it’s less than 4 inches (10 cm) you need to make your stitches a little taller by pulling the loop a bit higher before you make your yarn over and pull through the last 2 loops.
This will take a little practice because it means changing the way you normally make the stitch but it’s worth the effort to have your project turn out looking perfect. Keep experimenting until you get a 4 inch (10 cm) square. Once you have that magic number, you’re ready to begin working the first clue.
HOW TO READ A CHART
You’ll notice that we give the pattern in two formats, one written and one a chart, which is basically a picture of the pattern stitch. If you haven’t worked with charts before and want to give it a try, here’s how to read them.
- Look at the key below the chart. It tells you what stitch is represented by each of the symbols in the chart. These symbols are standard and always stand for the same stitch, no matter what chart you’re reading.
- Now look at the chart. You’ll see that there is a number at one end of each row (1, 2, 3…) You begin reading the row at the end where the number is: Odd number rows are read from right to left and even number rows are read from left to right. This corresponds to the back and forth way that you’ll be working the rows.
- You’ll notice that the chart doesn’t show the whole square, only the beginning chain and the first 3 rows. That’s because you’ll be repeating the last 2 rows (2 and 3) of the chart as shown by the bracket on the right hand side next to those rows.
- The base row tells you to chain 23. Row 1 shows 1 sc in the 2nd chain from the hook (remember we never count the chain that is on the hook so it doesn’t appear on the chart; we begin counting with the chain next to the one on the hook), then you make 1 sc in each chain to the end. Row 2 shows a beginning chain 3, then 1 dc in each of the sc you made in Row 1. (The chart doesn’t say to turn but you know you have to turn your work so you can work into the stitches of the previous row.) Row 3 shows a beginning ch 1 and 1 sc in each dc that you made in Row 2. Row 4 will be the same as Row 2, Row 5 will be the same as Row 3 and so on. You always have the written instructions to refer back to if you need any help.
Charts are wonderful to use because they save a lot of reading time (a picture is worth a thousand words they say.) You can even work patterns that are written in other languages without having to learn that language. Symbols are the international language of crochet.
Have fun working Clue #1 whether you use the written pattern or the chart. We’ll be back next week with a picture of this square and Clue #2. In the meantime, if you have questions, problems, exciting things to share…the blog is always open. We’ll check back often to offer help, advice or encouragement.